Monday, July 29, 2013

Waterford Crystal

‘Fashion fades, only style remains the same’
    Coco Chanel     


In this week's exploration of the '101 things to do...' we will be taking a look at Waterford Crystal's history, manufacturing processes and its visitor centre; the House of Waterford Crystal  Waterford Crystal and their beautiful, handcrafted products are internationally admired and have been instrumental in placing Waterford on the world map. As such, their visitor centre proves to be one of Ireland's most popular tourist attractions.

The production of crystal in Waterford can be traced as far back as 1783 when George and William Penrose started their business. Uniquely, they began producing extremely fine flint glass which, throughout the centuries, has become world-renowned. In 1947, Czeck native, Charles Bacik, was drawn to establish a glass works in Waterford City, due to Waterford Crystals’ excellent reputation. However, he found that skilled crystal workers were not available in Ireland, so some of Europe’s finest craftsmen were employed. By the early 1950’s, the company quickly became an important business in spite of a weak economic climate. Throughout the 20th Century, the brand’s reputation and international appeal grow from strength to strength. As a result, the brand has attracted many renowned designers to develop collections for Waterford Crystal; such as Jasper Conran and John Rocha.  

One of the House of Waterford Crystal’s main tourist attractions is its factory tour, which traces Waterford Crystal’s dynamic history and intriguing manufacturing process. The first stage of the tour explores the mould making process. Waterford Crystal is one of the few glass produces or companies which still adheres to the traditional mould making technique. The tour then makes it way to the blowing room, where the Master Blowers use wood moulds and hand tools to shape the molten crystal.  This room’s unique atmosphere mix is created through a mixture of heat, noise and bustling activity, and the experience reaches a breathtaking climax as you edge closer to the 1300 c furnace. Guests get to observe the meticulously skilled craftsmen transform the gleaming molten crystal into elegant shape, adhering to the age- old tradition which is embedded in every piece produced. After this, the tour moves to the hand- marking department where the crystal is marked with a temporary geometric grid to assist the Master Cutter to cut the pattern onto the crystal. 

One of Waterford Crystals distinctive characteristics is the way the crystal is cut, which visitors witness in the cutting room. Two types of cutting practices are adhered to, Wedge Cutting and Flat Cutting and a diamond tipped wheel is used to cut the crystal, ensuring superior quality. However, the crystal obtains its hallmark clearness and sparkle through expert hands and knowledge of master craftsmen. The final stage of the tour explores the sculpting and engraving processes which make Waterford Crystal unique. Furthermore, each piece is thoroughly inspected at each stage of production. Only pieces which adhere to Waterford Crystal’s stringent quality standards are allowed to proceed through each stage. Every piece is subjected to a minimum of six quality tests, ensuring that each piece will become a timeless classic for its owner. After the tour, visitors enjoy the retail store’s opulent display of the world’s largest collection of Waterford Crystal. Visitors often purchase an engraved piece as a momentum of their visit.

Over the years Waterford Crystal’s reputation, timeless style and elegant designs has garnered much international appeal. For instance, in 1966 Waterford Crystal  chandeliers were installed in Westminster Abbey for  its  900th anniversary.  Additionally, Chandeliers hang in other distinguished buildings, such as Winder Castle, and the Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C. Waterford Crystal has enjoyed a long established appeal in America, and each year on St. Patrick’s day the Irish  Taoiseach presents shamrock is a specially commissioned Waterford Crystal bowl. Additionally, Waterford Crystal made the 2,668 crystals for the famous New Year's Eve Ball which hangs each year in New York City's Times Square. Furthermore, Waterford Crystal design pieces for many prestigious sporting events such as the Master Tennis series, the Ashes test-cricket urn, the Masters snooker trophy, baseball torments and many Formula One races.

So, for a fascinating and ornate exploration of one of Ireland’s most famous exports, the House of Waterford Crystal; 28, The Mall, Waterford City;  is a must see visitor attraction. If you a planning a trip to Waterford Castle Hotel, why not view our ‘101 things to do’, which contains a variety of activities which can be enjoyed during your trip. To view the list, please visit www.waterfordcastle.comAdditionally, if you are planning to visit Waterford Castle Hotel & Golf Resort or if you have recently stayed with us, why not visit our Tripadvisor page .

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Exploring the Island's picturesque landscape

 ‘Look deep into nature, and the you will understand everything better.’
Albert Einstein
In the latest addition of the ‘101 things to do...’ we will be exploring the Island’s majestic natural scenery and its nature walks. Weather your are a seasoned walker, wish to relax with an afternoon stroll, or want to take stunning photographs to add to your holiday album, the Island’s picturesque natural landscape has many wonders in store for you.

This 310 acre Island was fashioned by nature. While the Island is now renowned for being a picturesque and enchanting haven, the Island’s earliest occupants were attracted by the shelter and security it provided from enemy attach. The Island’s first occupancy came in the form of a monastic settlement. Not only did the Island seemingly provide a safe- haven for them, the Island was abundant with natural food preserves.  Throughout the centuries on the Island, like the rest of Ireland, foraging became was every day common practice, just like going to the supermarket today.  People took advantage of their natural resources but in a sustainable way in order to ensure future cultivation. Wild fruits, nuts, herbs, flowers mushrooms, seaweed and shellfish were amongst the shopping list for the Island’s earliest inhabitants. 

While the centuries have past, foraging is still a prevalent practice amongst the Castle’s chefs; who adhere to an ethos of sourcing seasonal and the freshest locally produced ingredients. The delicious ingredients our kitchen team forage on the Island include Wilde Sage, Wild Garlic, Horse Flower, Elderberries  and a wide variety of forest mushrooms. These ingredients help to add distinctive flavours to dishes; contributing to an unforgettable dining experience. The Island’s abundant natural food resources are aided by the fact the Island does not have busy roads, so the produce is not subjected to exhaust fumes. Additionally, the land is never chemically sprayed, making it ideal for foraging. As a result, the Island has become renowned for the wide spectrum of beautiful flora and fana.

The Island has a number of specially laid out walk ways which allow our guests to discover the natural beauty and wonders that resort has to offer. For instance, the Island is home to a number of animals such as badgers, hares and deer, and birds from herons to pheasants.  Spotting these long-term residences proves to be a exciting experience for everyone, especially our youngest guests! Furthermore, the Island is provides a completely safe environment for children to explore the natural wonders, to play and get some fresh air and exercise; which is an added bonus for parents. Additional, while you explore the Island, why not find the perfect picnic spot. Custom made gourmet picnic baskets can be prepared by our head chef.

The Island’s natural splendour and the history it encapsulates proves to be an integral part of creating unforgettable experiences for our guests. So whether you like to get your walking shoes on and explore the natural surroundings, or enjoy waking up to magnificent scenic views; our natural landscape provides memories which will last a lifetime.

If you a planning a trip to Waterford Castle Hotel, why not view our ‘101 things to do’, which contains a variety of activities which can be enjoyed during your trip. To view the list, please visit . Additionally, if you are planning to visit Waterford Castle Hotel & Golf Resort or if you have recently stayed with us, why not visit our Tripadvisor page .

Monday, July 15, 2013

Waterford Medieval Museum

‘History is a relentless master. It has no present, only the past rushing to the future.’

John F. Kennedy

For the fourth installment of the ‘101 things to do...’ we are going to step back in time and explore Waterford’s Medieval Museum; which first opened its doors to the public on Friday 24th August 2012.

Situated between Cathedral Square and the Bishop’s Waterford’s Medieval Museum documents pays homage to the life, culture and historical significance of Waterford City’s Medieval heritage. The building and exhibition carefully preserves several medieval structures within its walls. For instance, the magnificent Chorister’s Hall survived the arduous medieval period, now forming a centre-piece of the museum and proves to be a spectacular feature.

Among the most fascinating exhibits on display is the rare 4 meter long Great Charter Roll, dating from 1372. The Great Charter Roll historical significance was further emphasized as it was visited by the Queen of England; Elizabeth II in 2011, and she also viewed other portraits/illustration of King Edward III. The magnificent roll was created as a propaganda exercise by Waterford, most probably as a result of a long running dispute with New Ross over trade issues, in order to confirm charter status with King Edward III of England.  This roll is unique in Ireland and serves as the first depiction of the city. The Roll contains royal charters dating from 1215, important documents, and illustrations documenting the period. Among the Charter Rolls illustrations are depictions of King Edward III, nine medieval governors of Ireland, a medieval judge, and the mayors of the four medieval cities of Ireland.

 Furthermore, the illustration of King Edward III, fully armed and on horseback proves to be a memorable attraction as it encapsulates the conflict and unrest of the period.  The museum also houses the 15th century, cloth-of gold vestments, which are often regarded as Ireland’s finest late-medieval artifacts. The Dalmatic vestment is one of the most historically significant pieces from the set of Waterford vestments on display in the museum.  

The Medieval Museum forms part of the collective, Waterford Museum of Treasures; which celebrate Waterford dynamic and fascinating history.  There are two other museums which document specific eras in Waterford’s history; Reginald’s Tower documents Waterford’s Viking era up to the Norman invasion and Bishop’s Palace explores the Waterford’s history from 1700- 1970.

One of the key features which attract tourists to the Waterford Museum of Treasures is the historical re-enacting experience provided. A team of actors playing different characters will bring to life Waterford’s fascinating history in these engaging and imaginative tours.  So why not come and experience the history and wonder of the medieval city which are encapsulated in these museums.

If you a planning a trip to Waterford Castle Hotel, why not view our ‘101 things to do’, which contains a variety of activities which can be enjoyed during your trip. To view the list, please visit .For further information in relation Waterford’s Medieval Museum, please visit or call +353 51 849501. Additionally, if you are planning to visit Waterford Castle Hotel & Golf Resort or if you have recently stayed with us, why not visit our Tripadvisor page .

The opening hours are as follows:
Easter - May : Daily from 10am – 5pm
June - Mid September : Daily from 10am – 6pm
Mid September - Easter : Wednesday - Sunday from10am – 5pm.

A street map of Waterford City and its tourist attractions can be found at hotel reception.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Tramore - a seaside haven

'Even Castles made of sand, fall into the sea, eventually.'

Jimi Hendrix

For this week’s exploration of the ‘101 things to do...’ we are going to take a look at Tramore; the perfect location to fully enjoy the glorious weather.

Once a small fishing village, Tramore’s transformation into a popular tourist destination began in 1853 with the introduction of a railway line, linking the village to Waterford City. This line eventually closed in 1961. With improved transport links, tourist quickly identified Tramore to be an ideal holiday destination. Tourists were attracted by the seaside area’s natural landscape, scenic beauty   and picturesque sea views. The town soon became to rely on its tourism trade as much if not more than it’s fishing heritage. Additionally, the once small village gradually expanded over the decades, eventually becoming a satellite town to Waterford city, due to its close proximity and continually improving transport links.

Tramore soon became a popular tourist destination, offering a traditional seaside experience of ice-cream, fairground and a long promenade. However, the heart of Tramore’s attractiveness among tourists is it’s magnificent beach, combined with the numerous seaside and water activities, which can be enjoyed by all the family.  Many people love to relax on the beach, sunbath (weather permitting!) enjoy the breathtaking sea views and go for a swim. The beach also proves to popular for walkers who like to take in picturesque seaside landscape. For instance, enjoy the scenic treks from Lakeview Stables along the beach. Why not follow the course of the beach, which will take you right down to the equally striking Sand Dunes.

In recent years, Tramore has become renowned surfing destination as well as other watersports including kitesurfing and windsurfing. as well as other water-sports including kite-surfing and wind-surfing.  Surfing was first introduced to the town in 1967 , spearheaded by Irish surfing pioneer Kevin Cavey. Due to the popularity of the sport, Tramore has many surf stores, board manufacturers, surf schools and hire shops in the town. There are many good breaks in and around Tramore. So why not try  out Tramore’s favourite pastime by getting surfing lessons;  Oceanics Surf School just a five-minute walk from the beach.

After a day of activities or relaxation on the beach, why not take a stroll through the Amusement Park.Enjoy the rides and the fun atmosphere, which will add to a memorable day out. Additionally, Tramore houses a number of exciting activity centres.  For instance, Splashworld, the South East’s largest indoor water-park, always proves to be an exciting family day out, especially if it’s raining outside. Pirates Cove Adventure Centre ensures great fun for all the kids with bowling, glow in the dark golf, bouncy castles and refreshments.

For those who like a flutter, Tramore Race Course holds eleven race meetings during any one year with a four day August Festival being the highlight of the racing calendar.  This year the August Festival takes place between 15th – 18th and always proves to be an exiting family day out. Additionally, if you wish to chance your luck future, why not sample the slot machines in one of Tramore amusement arcades. After a day out at the races why not sample Tramore’s restaurants and nightlight. The town houses a number of pubs which offer music and entertainment especially during the summer months. These pubs include O’ Neills, The Vic & Murphy’s Bar to name but a few.

So, whether you want a fun family day out, relax with your friends or explore Waterford’s coastal beauty, this sea-side town is certainly worth a visit. 

If you a planning a trip to Waterford Castle Hotel, why not view our ‘101 things to do’, which contains a variety of activities which can be enjoyed during your trip. To view the list, please visit . Additionally, if you are planning to visit Waterford Castle Hotel & Golf Resort or if you have recently stayed with us, why not visit our Tripadvisor page .

Monday, July 1, 2013

The History of Afternoon Tea

‘I can resist anything except temptation!’

Oscar Wilde

In the second installment of ‘101 Things to do...’ we will be exploring the history of a delightful indulgence; Afternoon tea. Whether you want to relax after a game of golf, sight-seeing or just wish to unwind with your friends, Afternoon Tea is a wonderful treat.

Akin to Waterford Castle itself, the culture and customs of Afternoon Tea are steep in history. While tea drinking is an embedded Irish tradition, afternoon tea finds its roots in 19 century English high society circles.
The conception of the Afternoon Tea custom is often accredited to Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford in the early 19th century. It seems 19th century society suffered an affliction which lasts to this day; the need for a mid afternoon sugar rush! The duchess often complained of having a 'sinking feeling' by late afternoon. At the time it was usual for people to only eat to meals a day; breakfast, and dinner at around 8pm in the evening. The conclusion for the Duchess was a pot of tea and a light snack; enjoyed in the privacy of her boudoir during the afternoon.

Eventually, Anna came to realize that her private daily treat could become a social gathering. She would invite friends to join her in her rooms at Woburn Abbey and this summer practice proved so popular that the Duchess continued it when she returned to London. Other society hostesses quickly picked up on the idea and the practice became  respectable enough to move into the drawing room, Before long, all of the fashionable society were sipping tea and indulging in savory and sweet treats in the middle of the afternoon.
Needless to say, afternoon tea soon became a prominent feature of Irish high society through the Anglo- Irish establishment of the time.

Although it is now sometimes referred to as ‘high tea’, traditionally the upper classes would have served a ‘low’ or ‘afternoon’ tea around four o’clock, just before the fashionable promenade in London’s Hyde Park. The middle and lower classes would have a more substantial ‘high’ tea later in the day, at five or six o’ clock, in place of late dinner. The names originate from the height of the tables on which the meals are served, with high tea being served on a dinner table.

While much has changed down through the centuries, it can be established that the ornate luxury of Afternoon Tea has remained mostly untouched. While it now may be subject to come modern flare, Afternoon Tea traditionally starts with savory finger-sized smoked salmon, cucumber or egg and cress sandwiches; followed by scones with jam and cream or clotted cream and a selection of cakes. The tea is traditionally served from a heavy, ornate, silver teapot into delicate china cups. Milk or lemon can be served with the tea, subject to personal preference. The sandwiches, scones and cakes should arrive at the table on a tiered cake stand.

Afternoon tea can be enjoyed in the opulent surrounding of our Fitzgerald Bar Room or in the castle conservatory, where guests are treated to a spectacular view of the castle grounds. Afternoon tea service takes place between the times of 3pm- 5pm. To make a reservation please contact hotel reception on 051- 878203.

If you a planning a trip to Waterford Castle Hotel, why not view our ‘101 things to do’, which contains a variety of activities which can be enjoyed during your trip. To view the list, please visit . Additionally, if you are planning to visit Waterford Castle Hotel & Golf Resort or if you have recently stayed with us, why not visit our Tripadvisor page .