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Waterford and Visitors

July 26, 2017

Waterford city welcomes visitors. They have been doing it since the Vikings sailed up the river Suir in the 9th century and the first inhabitants they met greeted them with the familiar Waterford greeting “Well? How are ya?”

Not all visitors came in peace. Not all were welcome. Cities bring out the best and the worst in visitors. It depends on why they came in the first place.

The Vikings would have been regarded as “grand lads”. They became part of the Waterford scene in next to no time, after a bit of fighting, settling in, trading and marrying into the local population.


They were the sort of neighbours you would be happy to have around when the tribe across the river grew stroppy and started up the cattle rustling and sheep stealing, again. Plus, those Viking lads knew a thing of two about sailing. They travelled to some unusual places and were happy to teach their knowledge to their new neighbours.

After that the locals were off - all over the world. Whole squads of them settled in Newfoundland, not to mention Australia (not all went there voluntarily, it must be said), the Americas, South Africa, India and all over Europe. In fact they travelled to any part of the world that had a harbour or a decent beach where they could moor a ship or jump off one and swim ashore.

Normans, Welsh, English paraded through the city after the Vikings, not always leaving good feelings behind them.

Cromwell left his mark on the city when he lodged one of his cannonballs in the main tower in the city walls. He sailed his ships right up to the edge of the walls and he could hardly miss.

The inhabitants were not impressed by his pious and penitential Protestantism and told him to clear off back to where he came from.

The locals were happy with their own version of Christianity that allowed for fun and games and a pragmatic approach to morality. A quick dash to confession and a show of the Irish version of Catholicism allowed them to straighten out their accounts with the Almighty when the time was right. A wholesome tradition that persists to this day. 

Incensed by their independence, Cromwell took out his spite on the city and wrecked the place. Not the sort of conduct you would expect from someone only passing through.

You have to admire the citizens of a city who called one area, Christendom and named another, Mount Misery. It sums up the balance there is in life.

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