LivingTravelCounty Waterford Essentials

County Waterford Essentials

Interested in visiting County Waterford? This part of the Irish province of Munster has a host of attractions that you won’t want to miss. Plus some interesting sights that are a bit off the beaten path. So why not take your time and spend a day or two in Waterford when visiting Ireland? Here are some ideas to make it worth your while.

County Waterford in a nutshell

County Waterford is located on the southern coast of Ireland in the province of Munster, the Irish name is Phort Láirge , with the literal (and quite appropriate) meaning as ‘mountainous coast’. The most common name for Waterford, however, derives from the Scandinavian vadrefjord , the “Ford of the Gelding Rams.” Before the Vikings settled here, the area was apparently known as cuan na gréine , or the “Port of the Sun”, yes, they have good weather here. Irish car registrations used to be W (Waterford City) and WD (Waterford County), now only W is in use for the entire county.

Surprisingly perhaps, the county town was Dungarvan, local reforms changed it to Waterford City. Other major cities include Clonmel, Dunmore East, Portlaw, and Tramore. The total size of the county is 1,857 km2 (or 717 square miles), the population was counted as 113,795 in 2011.

Now what is there to see and visit in County Waterford?

Waterford City – Viking at the core

Small enough to be carried within a day, but exciting enough to make the time for it: Waterford City is a waterfront seaport (the River Suir provides the boardwalk) and fragments of the water can still be traced. medieval walls around the center. The highlight is the Reginald Tower (open to visitors) near the marina. The Waterford Treasures exhibit in the old barn at Merchant’s Quay is not to be missed. The history of the city comes to life here. Stroll through the city center where modern and old architecture merge, do some shopping in the malls.

And maybe visit Waterford Crystal, home of the brilliant cut class.

Ardmore round tower

Ardmore’s round tower, both a navigational aid for sailors and a sign of the monastery to which it was attached, still stands proud at 29 meters high, around eight centuries after its construction. Although it is the most visible building from afar, it is by no means lonely. A 12th century cathedral is almost contemporary, but retains parts of earlier churches (like a chancel from three centuries earlier). A Romanesque carving tells stories from the Bible and the Ogham stones bear the first Irish ‘writing’.

Add to this the nearby 8th-century oratory, perhaps on the site of St. Declan’s tomb, and you’ll have plenty of photo opportunities.

Fabulous castle of Lismore

Lismore Castle, which can actually be rented, a fairly recent addition to the landscape (it was built by Joseph Paxton for the 6th Duke of Devonshire in the 19th century), also preserves some of the medieval heritage – parts of remains of a built castle by Prince John (of Robin Hood fame) circa 1185. The gardens are open to the public and feature woodland, shrubbery, an almost mandatory yew walk, and a walled garden. It is best visited in spring when the magnolias and camellias are in bloom. By the way, the English poet Edmund Spenser is said to have written parts of his “Fairie Queene” here.

Maybe take a copy with you and soak up the atmosphere as you read Elizabethan poetry.

Fun by the sea

If you’re looking for an archetypal seaside resort, perhaps Tramore fits the bill: complete with beaches, a metal man as a quirky boating sign of sorts, display gardens, horse races, and an amusement park. Usually quite crowded in the summer, it can still be enjoyed if you don’t really expect peace and quiet.

Narrow gauge delicacies

Just a short drive from the small town of Kilmeadan (famous for cheese) you will find the Waterford and Suir Valley Railway. A small narrow gauge line kept alive by enthusiasts and offering train travel during the summer season. It’s not really a “big thing,” but a nice trip back in time, when trains were small but still traversing rural waters.

The copper coast

Part of the Waterford coastline is a UNESCO designated geopark (the Copper Coast), but most of it is pleasant anyway (if you manage to avoid the often horribly intrusive caravan parks). The west coast of Waterford Harbor offers beautiful beaches with splendid views of the Hook Peninsula, Dunmore East, Tramore and Dungarvan are lively towns full of restaurants and pubs, the beaches of Clonea Bay, Dungarvan Harbor, Ardmore Bay and Whiting Bay are made just for long, relaxing hikes (or short, bracing dives).

As you walk, be vigilant: whales and dolphins can be seen from time to time, seals are also quite common.

Traditional Music in County Waterford

Visiting County Waterford and having to do something at night? Well, you could do worse than go to a local pub (which, by default, will be an »original Irish pub«) and then join a traditional Irish session… so why not give it a try?

Most sessions start around 9:30 pm or when a few musicians get together.


  • “Bobby Grace’s” – Wednesday
  • “Ned Kelly’s” – Thursday

Dungarvan – “Bean a Leanna” – Thursday, Friday and Sunday


  • «Marine Bar» – Monday and irregular on weekends
  • “Mooney’s” – Friday to Sunday

City of Waterford

  • «Bridge Hotel» – Monday
  • “Croker’s Bar” – Thursday
  • “TH Doolan’s” – every day

Learn more about County Waterford and the Province of Munster

  • County Waterford Articles
  • Waterford City in a nutshell
  • Munster province
  • The best of munster

Continue your travels beyond the borders of County Waterford

Did you spend enough time in County Waterford? Then jump to neighboring counties:

  • County cork
  • County tipperary
  • County Kilkenny
  • County Wexford

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