Waterford (Irish: Port Láirge [pˠɔɾˠt̪ˠ ˈl̪ˠaːɾʲ(ə)ɟə]; from Old Norse Veðrafjǫrðr [ˈweðrɑˌfjɒrðr̩], meaning "ram (wether) fjord") is a city in Ireland. It is in County Waterford in the south-east of Ireland and is located in the province of Munster. The city is situated at the head of Waterford Harbour. It is the oldest and the fifth most populous city in the Republic of Ireland. It is the tenth most populous settlement on the island of Ireland. Waterford City and County Council is the local government authority for the city. According to the 2016 Census, 53,504 people live in the city, with a wider metropolitan population of 82,963.
Today, Waterford is known for Waterford Crystal, a legacy of the city's former glassmaking industry. Glass, or crystal, was manufactured in the city from 1783 until early 2009, when the factory there was shut down after the receivership of Waterford Wedgwood plc. The Waterford Crystal visitor centre in the Viking Quarter, under new owners, opened in June 2010, after the intervention of Waterford City Council and Waterford Chamber of Commerce, and resumed production. Waterford is also known for being the starting point of Ryanair's first flight, a 14-seat Embraer Bandeirante turboprop aircraft flying between Waterford and Gatwick Airport.
Viking raiders first established a settlement near Waterford in 853. It and all the other longphorts were vacated in 902, the Vikings having been driven out by the native Irish. The Vikings re-established themselves in Ireland at Waterford in 914, led at first by Ottir Iarla (Jarl Ottar) until 917, and after that by Ragnall ua Ímair and the Uí Ímair dynasty, and built what would be Ireland's first city. Among the most prominent rulers of Waterford was Ivar of Waterford.
In 1167, Diarmait Mac Murchada, the deposed King of Leinster, failed in an attempt to take Waterford. He returned in 1170 with Cambro-Norman mercenaries under Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke (known as Strongbow); together they besieged and took the city after a desperate defence. In furtherance of the Norman invasion of Ireland, King Henry II of England landed at Waterford in 1171. Waterford and then Dublin were declared royal cities, with Dublin also declared capital of Ireland.
Throughout the medieval period, Waterford was Ireland's second city after Dublin. In the 15th century Waterford repelled two pretenders to the English throne: Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck. As a result, King Henry VII gave the city its motto: Urbs Intacta Manet Waterfordia (Waterford remains the untaken city).
After the Protestant Reformation, Waterford remained a Catholic city and participated in the confederation of Kilkenny – an independent Catholic government from 1642 to 1649. This was ended abruptly by Oliver Cromwell, who brought the country back under English rule; his son-in-law Henry Ireton finally took Waterford in 1650 after a major siege. In 1690, during the Williamite War, the Jacobite Irish Army was forced to surrender Waterford in the wake of the Battle of the Boyne.
The 18th century was a period of huge prosperity for Waterford. Most of the city's best architecture appeared during this time. A permanent military presence was established in the city with the completion of the Cavalry Barracks at the end of the 18th century.
In the early 19th century, Waterford City was deemed vulnerable and the British government erected three Martello towers on the Hook Peninsula to reinforce the existing Fort at Duncannon. During the 19th century, great industries such as glass making and ship building thrived in the city.
The city was represented in the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1891 to 1918 by John Redmond MP, leader (from January 1900) of the Irish Parliamentary Party. Redmond, then leader of the pro-Parnell faction of the party, defeated David Sheehy in 1891. In 1911, Br. Jerome Foley, Br. Dunstan Drumm and Br. Leopold Loughran left Waterford for Malvern, Australia. Here, they founded a Catholic college which is still in existence today.
Following the Local Government Reform Act 2014, Waterford City and County Council is the local government authority for the city. The authority came into operation on 1 June 2014. Prior to this the city had its own local council, Waterford City Council. The new Council is the result of a merger of Waterford City Council and Waterford County Council. The Council has 32 representatives (councillors) who are elected from five electoral areas. The city itself forms three of the electoral areas – which when combined form the Metropolitan District of Waterford – and returns a total of 18 councillors to Waterford City and County Council. Residents in these areas are restricted to voting for candidates located in their ward for local elections. The office of the Mayor of Waterford was established in 1377. A mayor is then elected by the councillors from the two electoral areas of the Metropolitan District of Waterford every year, and there is no limit to the number of terms an individual may serve. Mary O'Halloran who was mayor during 2007–2008 was the first woman to hold the post. The current mayor is Adam Wyse.
For the purposes of elections to Dáil Éireann, the city is part of the Waterford constituency, which includes the county of Waterford except for those parts of the county near Clonmel that lie in Tipperary South. The constituency elects four deputies to Dáil Éireann. There are no such ward restrictions for these elections and voters are entitled to vote for any candidate throughout the city and county.
Waterford has a long history with the defence forces, with the Department of Defence operating a reserve defence forces barracks in the city centre housing the army reserve, naval reserve and civil defence.
The city is situated at the head of Waterford Harbour (Loch Dá Chaoch or Cuan Phort Láirge). The city motto Urbs Intacta Manet Waterfordia ("Waterford remains the untaken city") was granted by King Henry VII of England in 1497 after Waterford refused to recognise the claims of the pretenders Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck to the English throne. Waterford was subjected to two sieges in 1649 and 1650, during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland. It withstood the first siege but surrendered during the second siege to Henry Ireton on 6 August 1650.
Reginald's Tower is the oldest urban civic building in Ireland, and the oldest monument to retain its Viking name. To this day, it remains Waterford's most recognisable landmark. It is believed to be the first building in Ireland to use mortar. The River Suir, which flows through Waterford City, has provided a basis for the city's long maritime history. The place downriver from Waterford where the Nore and the Barrow join the River Suir is known in Irish as Cumar na dTrí Uisce ("The confluence of the three waters"). Waterford Port has been one of Ireland's major ports for over a millennium. In the 19th century, shipbuilding was a major industry. The owners of the Neptune Shipyard, the Malcomson family, built and operated the largest fleet of iron steamers in the world between the mid-1850s and the late 1860s, including five trans-Atlantic passenger liners.
Today, Waterford is known for Waterford Crystal, a legacy of the city's former glass making industry. Glass, or crystal, was manufactured in the city from 1783 until early 2009, when the factory there was shut down after the receivership of Waterford Wedgwood plc. The Waterford Crystal visitor centre in the Viking Quarter, under new owners, opened in June 2010, after the intervention of Waterford City Council and Waterford Chamber of Commerce, and resumed production.
Waterford is also known for being the "starting point" of one of the biggest European airlines (as of 2013) – Ryanair's first flight was a 14-seat Embraer Bandeirante turboprop aircraft, flying between Waterford and Gatwick Airport.
The climate of Waterford is, like the rest of Ireland, classified as a maritime temperate climate (Cfb) according to the Köppen climate classification system. It is mild and changeable with abundant rainfall and a lack of temperature extremes. The counties in the Waterford area are often referred to as the 'Sunny Southeast'. The hottest months of the year are June, July and August with average daytime temperatures of around 17 – 22 degrees. Rainfall is evenly distributed year round, however, the period from late October to late January is considerably wetter and duller than the rest of the year.
With a population of 53,504 and a metropolitan area population of 82,963, Waterford is the fifth most populous city in the State and the 32nd most populous area of local government.
The population of Waterford grew from 1,555 in 1653 to around 28,000 in the early 19th century, declining to just over 20,000 at the end of the 19th, then rising steadily to over 40,000 during the 20th century. According to the 2016 Census, 53,504 people live in the city of Waterford, with a wider metropolitan population of 82,963.
Waterford Local Radio (WLR FM) is available on 94.8FM on the Coast, 95.1FM in the County and on 97.5FM in Waterford City. WLR FM is Waterford's local radio station. Beat 102 103 is a regional youth radio station broadcasting across the South East of Ireland, it is based in Ardkeen, along with sister station WLR FM.
The Waterford News & Star is based on Gladstone Street in Waterford City. It covers Waterford city and county. It is now published in tabloid format.
The Munster Express has its office on the Quay in Waterford City and covers stories from across the city and county. It switched to tabloid format in 2011.
Waterford Mail is a free newspaper that comes out on Thursdays, it has an office on O'Connell Street. Its circulation is currently 20,000 and it delivers to homes and business across the city and county.
Waterford Today is an advertising supported free newspaper. It is delivered to most homes in the Waterford city area and is also available in many shops across the east of the county. Its newly refurbished offices are at the Mayors Walk in the city.
Waterford News and Star is in the shops on Tuesdays, The Munster Express, and Waterford Today are in the shops on Wednesdays.
The city of Waterford consists of various cultural quarters, the oldest of which is known as Viking Triangle. This is the part of the city surrounded by the original 10th century fortifications, which is triangular in shape with its apex at Reginald's Tower. Though this was once the site of a thriving Viking city, the city centre has shifted to the west over the years, and it is now a quiet and tranquil area, dominated by narrow streets, medieval architecture, and civic spaces. Over the past decade, a number of restaurants have opened in High Street and Henrietta Street, taking advantage of the charming character of the area. Much of Waterford's impressive architecture is to be found in the 'Viking Triangle'.
In the 15th century, the city was enlarged with the building of an outer wall on the west side. Today Waterford retains more of its city walls than any other city in Ireland with the exception of Derry, whose walls were built much later. Tours of Waterford's city walls are conducted daily.
The Quay, once termed by historian Mark Girouard 'the noblest quay in Europe', is a mile long from Grattan Quay to Adelphi Quay, though Adelphi Quay is now a residential area. It is still a major focal point for Waterford, commercially and socially, and the face that Waterford presents to those travelling into the city from the north. Near Reginald's Tower is the William Vincent Wallace Plaza, a monument and amenity built around the time of the millennium that commemorates the Waterford born composer.
John Roberts Square is a pedestrianised area that is one of the main focal points of Waterford's modern day commercial centre. It was named after the city's most celebrated architect, John Roberts, and was formed from the junction of Barronstrand Street, Broad Street and George's Street. It is often referred to locally as Red Square, due to the red paving that was used when the area was first pedestrianised. A short distance to the east of John Roberts Square is Arundel Square, another square with a fine commercial tradition, which the City Square shopping centre opens onto.
Ballybricken, in the west, just outside the city walls, is thought to have been Waterford's Irishtown, a type of settlement that often formed outside Irish cities to house the Vikings and Irish that had been expelled during the Norman invasion of Ireland. Modern street names in the area reflect the fact that the area was were inhabitants of the medieval the city practised archery. Ballybricken is an inner city neighbourhood with a long tradition, centred around Ballybricken hill, which was a large, open market-square. Today it has been converted into a green, civic space, but the Bull Post, where livestock was once bought and sold, still stands as a remnant of the hill's past.
The Mall is a fine Georgian thoroughfare, built by the Wide Streets Commission to extend the city southwards. It contains some of the city's finest Georgian architecture. The People's Park, Waterford's largest and finest park, is located nearby.
Once a historic market area, the city's Apple Market district is popular for its nightlife culture and includes a number of bars, restaurants and nightclubs. A significant investment in the mid-2010s saw a portion of the area pedestrianised and the installation of a large outdoor roofing section.
Ferrybank, in County Waterford, is Waterford's only suburb north of the river. It contains a village centre of its own.
In April 2003 an important site combining a 5th-century Iron Age and 9th century Viking settlement was discovered at Woodstown near the city, which appears to have been a Viking town that predates all such settlements in Ireland.
Waterford Crystal is manufactured in Waterford but in early 2009 the company moved it operations to continental Europe. A new Waterford Crystal visitor centre opened on 22 June 2010.
Waterford's oldest public house (pub) can be found just outside the old 'Viking Triangle'. T & H Doolan's, of 31/32 George's Street, has been officially active and open to the public for over three hundred years. The official record of licences dates back to the 18th century but the premises is believed to be closer to five hundred years in age. A main element of the structure includes one of the original city walls, almost 1,000 years old, which can be viewed in the lounge area of the building.
Waterford is the main city of Ireland's South-East Region. Historically Waterford was an important trading port which brought much prosperity to the city throughout the city's eventful history. Throughout its history Waterford Crystal provided employment to thousands in the city and surrounding areas.
Waterford Port is Ireland's closest deep-water port to mainland Europe, handling approximately 12% of Ireland's external trade by value. Waterford's most famous export, Waterford Crystal, is an internationally known and highly sought after product that was manufactured in the city from 1783 to 2009 and again from 2010 to the present day. Places where Waterford Crystal can be seen include New York City, where Waterford Crystal made the 2,668 crystals for the famous New Year's Eve Ball that is dropped each year in Times Square; Westminster Abbey; Windsor Castle; and the Kennedy Center, Washington
Agriculture also played an important part in Waterford's economic history. Kilmeadan, about 5 km from the city, was home to a very successful co-operative. The farmers of the area benefited from the sale of their produce (mostly butter and milk) to the co-op. In 1964, all of the co-ops in Waterford amalgamated to become Waterford Co-op. This led to the construction of a cheese factory on a greenfield site opposite the general store, and Kilmeadan cheese was to become one of the most recognised and successful Cheddar brands in the world, winning gold and bronze medals in the World Cheese Awards in London in 2005.
The Irish economic recession from 2008 onwards has had a major negative impact on Waterford's economy. A number of multinational companies have closed, including Waterford Crystal (which subsequently reopened) and Talk Talk, which has led to a high level of unemployment. Until 2013 the hedge fund office of the Citibank resided here.
Waterford Co-op and Avonmore Co-op have merged to form Glanbia plc.
The M9 motorway, which was completed on 9 September 2010, connects the city to Dublin. The N24 road connects the city to Limerick city. The N25 road connects the city to Cork city. The route traverses the River Suir via the River Suir Bridge. This cable-stayed bridge is the longest single bridge span in Ireland at 230m. The route continues eastwards to Rosslare Harbour.
Waterford railway station is the only railway station in the county of Waterford. It is operated by Iarnród Éireann and provides 8 daily return services to Dublin and a Monday–Saturday Intercity service to Limerick Junction via Clonmel with onward connections to Limerick, Ennis, Athenry, Galway, Cork, Killarney, and Tralee. The line between Waterford and Rosslare Harbour ceased passenger services in 2010 and was replaced by Bus Éireann route 370. The station is directly connected to Waterford Port (Belview). A freight yard is located at the Dublin/Limerick end of the station, served by freight traffic such as cargo freight and timber which travel to and from Dublin Port and Ballina. In November 2016 it was revealed the Waterford could lose its connection to Limerick Junction by 2018 with the closure of the Limerick Junction Waterford line by CIE/IE to save money as the line is low demand. On 29 May 2018 the contract held by DFDS for a freight service from Ballina to Belview Port expired and was not renewed.
Bus Éireann, JJ Kavanagh and Sons, Dublin Coach, and Wexford Bus provide bus services around the city centre and to other towns and cities in Ireland. A daily coach service to England via South Wales and terminating at Victoria Coach Station, London is operated by Eurolines. All regional bus services depart from Waterford Bus Station on the quay, and city centre services run throughout the city. Planning for bus lanes in the city centre are at an early stage and bus lanes will be on Parnell Street, Manor Street, The Mall, and the South Quays. A bus lane will be in each direction. On street parking will be removed from Parnell Street to facilitate the lanes. This is part of the city centre green plan.
There is one third-level institution in Waterford, Waterford Institute of Technology, which has applied for university status. Waterford College of Further Education previously called the Central Technical Institute (CTI), is a Post Leaving Certificate institute located on Parnell Street, Waterford city. It was founded in 1906 and thus celebrated its centenary in 2005. As of 2018, WIT and its regional sister institute in Carlow are in the process of jointly pursuing Technological University status, in order to establish a university for the Irish southeast region. As of 2020 Waterford remains the only Irish city without a university.
Mount Sion Secondary and Primary School at Barrack Street were founded by Edmund Ignatius Rice and the schools have seen many well-known pupils pass through their doors.
Newtown School, a Quaker co-educational boarding school, is situated in Waterford.
Waterpark College is a secondary school in Waterford. Established in 1892 on the banks of the River Suir as Waterford's first classical school, it still provides a secondary education to boys and girls from Waterford City, county and the surrounding area. It has only recently become a co-educational school.
De La Salle College, a secondary school with 1,200 students and over 90 staff, is the biggest all-boys school in the county. Founded by the De La Salle brothers in 1892, it is a Catholic school for boys. Today its large staff is made up of a mixture of Brothers and lay teachers.
Waterford Boat Club is the oldest active sports club in Waterford, established in 1878. Located on Scotch Quay, the club competes in the Irish Rowing Championships. In 2009, several Waterford rowers were selected to row for Ireland.
There are three athletics clubs: West Waterford AC, Waterford Athletic Club and Ferrybank Athletic Club. The Waterford Viking Marathon is held in June. St. Anne's Waterford Lawn Tennis Club, established in 1954, is the result of the amalgamation of Waterford Lawn Tennis Club and St. Anne's Lawn Tennis Club. It has nine courts to cater for social and competitive players in all age groups.
Waterford is home to several association football clubs, including Waterford FC, Benfica W.S.C. and Johnville F.C.. Waterford F.C. is a member of the League of Ireland, Benfica is one of the oldest women's football clubs in the Republic of Ireland, while Johnville F.C. is a notable academy club. Notable Waterford footballers include Davy Walsh, Paddy Coad, Jim Beglin, Alfie Hale, Eddie Nolan, John O'Shea James Coade and Daryl Murphy. John Delaney, chief executive of the Football Association of Ireland, is originally from Waterford.
Other team sports include Gaelic Athletic Association with clubs such as Mount Sion GAA, Erin's Own GAA, De La Salle GAA, Roanmore GAA, Ferrybank GAA and Ballygunner GAA; cricket is represented by Waterford District Cricket Club who are based in Carraiganore and competes in the Munster Cricket Union; there are two inline hockey clubs, Waterford Shadows HC and Waterford Vikings, both of which compete in the Irish Inline Hockey League; and American football is played by Waterford Wolves, based at the Waterford Regional Sports Centre, and is the only American football club in Waterford.