Another significant step in Waterford’s development as a major tourism destination takes place this week, when Waterford Museum of Treasures opens an exciting new exhibition at Reginald’s Tower that, using a superb collection of historic and archaeological artefacts, tells the important story of Waterford’s Viking heritage.
Waterford is Ireland’s oldest city and dates back to 914 A.D. when the first Vikings came to Waterford. Almost 1,100 years later, traces of the Viking legacy can be found in Waterford in such names as Reginald’s Tower, Olaf Street, Ballygunner and Ballytruckle as well as in popular family surnames such as Doyle and MacAuliffe.
Among the exhibition’s many striking artefacts is a Viking ‘face weight’ that is thought may have originated in Iraq. Other items on display include combs, a copper dog collar, gaming pieces, ringed pins, and of course the famous kite brooch, of the finest pieces of Viking metal work surviving which was found in a pit in Peter Street and is known to have been made locally. The kite brooch bears testimony to the wealth and sophistication of Waterford’s early inhabitants.
Reginald’s Tower is the oldest urban civic building in Ireland, and Waterford’s most recognisable landmark. It was in this tower that Strongbow, leader of the Anglo-Norman invasion force, met Aoife, the daughter of Dermot McMurrough, King of Leinster. Their marriage was to change the course of Irish history forever.
In later centuries, the tower took on the functions of a royal castle and was later used as a mint and a prison. To this day, it remains Waterford’s most recognisable landmark.
Within Waterford’s historic city centre known as the Viking Triangle, there is over 1,000 years of history in 1,000 paces. Along with its Medieval and Georgian architecture, Waterford possesses a remarkable collection of internationally important museum artefacts that span over a thousand years of the city’s history. As part of the development of the Viking Triangle, Waterford Museum of Treasures is relocating into three new locations: The Bishop’s Palace, Reginald’s Tower and Choristers’ Hall (opening 2012).
Waterford’s history, heritage and culture are key to developing a successful tourism industry and the development of Waterford’s historic city centre, the Viking Triangle, has been made possible under Fáilte Ireland’s Tourism Capital Investment Programme as part of National Development Plan 2007 – 2013. The restoration of the Bishop’s Palace and the new Viking Exhibition at Reginald’s Tower are cornerstones in the larger strategic vision for the Viking Triangle.
Some statistics about Waterford Museum of Treasures:
– Over 150 people have been employed during the restoration of the Bishop’s Palace and the development of the Viking exhibition at Reginald’s Tower.
– Waterford Museum of Treasures will eventually employ approximately 15 people when the entire project is completed.
– Waterford Museum of Treasures expects to reach a target of aquarter of a million visitors over the next three years.