After a couple of days in Dublin, we began our journey towards Waterford, Ireland. If you’re unfamiliar with Ireland, here is the route of that trip.
As far back as I can remember, we’ve bought Waterford Crystal Christmas ornaments and items for the china cabinet. It was a treat to visit the factory where these heirlooms are all hand-made.
Waterford Crystal is almost as old as the United States, it started in 1783 by George and William Penrose. Upon the death of the owners, the business was sold several times. In 1825, Great Britan and Ireland placed a hefty duty on glassware and this eventually caused Waterford to go belly up. However, in 1947, Charles Bacik and Noel Griffin reopened Waterford Crystal and it has thrived ever since.
The artisans of Waterford Crystal go through intensive training. They first go through 5 years of apprentice training before they can test as a Master. If they fail to pass the Master test, they normally leave the company. If they pass the test, it takes another 3 years to become a Master artisan.
I was really surprised at the types of crystal they make. It’s not just vases, glasses, and ornaments — you will find NBA and NCAA trophies and all kinds of odd uses of crystal.
Irish National Stud Farm
On our way to Waterford, we stopped by the Irish National Stud Farm. This is where championship horses are bred. The property is beautifully manicured and has even been visited by the Queen of the United Kingdom.
It’s amazing how much they charge to breed Champion studs. The most expensive Stud on the farm is Invincible Spirit. His stud fee is £ 120,000 — that’s $158,168! This horse is bred about 4 times a day so he brings in $632,672 per day. Now that’s some serious money!
On the grounds of the Irish Stud Farm sits a Japanese Garden. It’s an incredibly manicured garden of various native (and even some non-native) plants.
Jack Meades Original Irish Pub
We had a special dinner at the Jack Meades Irish Pub. This is a traditional Irish pub that carries a lot of history.
The pub dates back to 1705 and it has been in the current family since 1857. As you walk into the pub, you must duck your head because the ceiling height is only about 6 feet and some of the header boards are just over 5 feet high. As you look around the 200 square foot bar, you see locals bellied up to the bar sipping Guinness.
The upstairs is bigger and that’s where we had dinner. A local talent serenaded us with Old Irish songs and we all sang along. Danny Boy and 40 Shades of Green were the crowd pleasers.
The singer also told us about Galway girls. Galway is a coastal town we visited later and they supposedly have the most beautiful Irish girls there. Most have dark hair and blue eyes. They think this happened as the Spanish visited the coastal city and left a bit of their heritage behind.
The singer also said that in recessionary times, they converted the upstairs of the pub into a funeral home because in Ireland they like to celebrate a person’s life by pounding pints of Guinness. This was a logical fit and it ran as a pub/funeral home for many years.
I had the best seafood chowder I’ve ever tasted at this pub — it was a wonderful night of craic.
Next Stop: Cork and Killarney
We spent 2 weeks on this trip to Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland, so I will continue chronicling our journeys over the coming weeks. The next blog will cover our visit to Cork and Killarney.
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If you missed the post covering Dublin, you can read it here.