Ring or 'An Rinn' in Irish is an official Gaeltacht area near Dungarvan. A Gaeltacht area is an area in whihc the predominant language used locally is Irish. Gaeltacht areas in Ireland are mostly located along the west coast such as Kerry (the Dingle Peninsula) Galway and Donegal.
Ring is the only official Gaeltacht area in Waterford.
Because of this, all road signs and a lot of Shop signs are in the Irish language. If you want to hear the Irish language used in everyday life around Dungarvan your best chance is around Ring. However, due to unforgivable negligence by the planning authorities who have allowed far too much housing development in the area the area has become far more "english speaking" in recent years.
thankfully this is not all that Ring has going for it as it boasts some of the most spectacular views out over Dungarvan Bay and the Comeragh Mountains and some great fishing and cliff top walking trails. Drive to the end of the headland to Helvick Head (Ceann Helbhic) in Irish for the best views.
No village has the right to be this be this pretty but Dunmore East is Waterford County's most pituresque village. Located approx 10km from Waterford city and built on a sloping hillside, this sleepy fishing villages comes alive during the summer with the arrival of summer visitors. However the village still has a hidden quality in that not too many foreign visitors find this little coastal village. No national routes pass near the village and its not on the well known coastal road, and so the only people who actually come to Dunmore East are locals and Irish holiday makers, hearing of Dunmore East by word of mouth.
The jewel in the crown of the village is the quantity and quality of the quaint, traditional thatched cottages complete with colourful doors and white washed walls, which line the streets. I have never seen such a concentration of thatched cottages in any one place. Another big draw is the gorgeous bay and sandy beach which lies below the village and is a great place to swim and sunbath on hot summer days, as rare as they might be in Ireland!
St. Andrews Church is another beautiful addition to the village and its tall spire can be seen above the trees of Dunmore East from the far side of the bay.
Dunmore East is a also a busy fishing port and the harbour with tall lighthouse and breakwater walls, is located in the west of the village. Dunmore East is one of the South East Ireland's biggest fishing industries. This has an added bonus, in that Dunmore East is the location of one of Waterford's best Seafood Restaurants in 'The Spinnaker'. I must make a special mention of the Dunmore East coastguards and rescue crew who work tirelessly and bravely to protect the lives of sailors, fishermen and visitors to the coast of Waterford.
Colligan Wood is a place nature lovers and walkers will enjoy. Located between Dungarvan and Ballymacarbry and only around 7km from central Dungarvan, the woods are a very popular place for local families who head to Colligan for walks and picnics. The small woodland sits in a narrow and pristinely green vale at the foothills of the Comeragh Mountains and the Colligan River flows through the woods on its way to its Atlantic mouth in Dungarvan Bay. With a recently laid out car park and riverside picnic tables it is a great place to head for an evening walk and picnic.
Waterford doesn’t hit the tourist radar as often as Dublin, Cork, Kilkenny or Galway but maybe for this reason alone it is worth a visit.
Waterford City is Ireland’s oldest city having been founded by the Vikings in the 8th century. This Viking influence is still string in Waterford today, with the city’s strong Maritime and Naval traditions still continuing today. Even the name Waterford (Port Láirge in Irish) comes from the Viking name for the city, Vadrafjord. The city’s location at the mouth of the River Suir in the south of the country quickly made the city a significant trading centre in Western Europe and the city quickly grew both physically and economically.
The Vikings of Waterford as elsewhere in other Irish Viking strongholds, such as Wexford, Limerick and Dublin, quickly assimilated into the native population and took on many of the country’s traditions and cultural influences. Even in Irish schools today, it is common to make reference to the fact that the Vikings ‘became more Irish than the Irish themselves.’ After the initial resentment of the Vikings and their occupation of the country, the Irish natives came to accept their Nordic neighbours. This was especially evident in Waterford, where the indigenous Irish and Vikings together joined forces to battle the invading Anglo-Norman forces in the 12th century. Unfortunately, this combined force was still not strong enough to withstand Strongbow’s forces who took the city after a desperate fight.
Despite the occupation of the city, Waterford grew even more and soon became Ireland’s most powerful city and the extension and expansion of the City Walls, begun by the Vikings, continued under King John. There followed centuries of growth intermingled with episodes of turmoil, when various invaders tried to wrestle Waterford from the Normans. Eventually it was Cromwell (who else!!!!!!) who managed to take Waterford with his nephew Henry Ireton and together they implemented Cromwell’s trade mark, brutal regime, murdering or deporting thousands of Irish Catholics. However, Waterford continued to prosper under English control and continued to grow and remain one of Ireland’s most important trade and shipping centres.
After Irish independence, Waterford began to slip into decline which continued late into the 20th century. Unemployment and other social and economic problems blighted the city, with its shipping importance beginning to wane. The only bright spark was from one of Waterford’s and Ireland’s most famous exports, Waterford Crystal, which began producing its world famous crystal in the 1970’s. Unfortunately the down trun of the world’s economy in recent yers has hit the crystal factory hard and it has now closed down with production moving overseas...a tragic outcome for the city and its population who have not only suffered in terms of job loss but have lost a little piece of their soul with the closing of the factory.
Apart from this terrible and morale sapping loss, Waterford has largely recovered from the decline of the previous century and the once drab and neglected city centre is now a vibrant, clean and largely pedestrian area. The city has come a long way in the last decade and visitors are making the trip down to the centre of Ireland’s sunny south-east in ever increasing numbers and even cruise ships are making regular stops at Waterford...whether welcome or not ;) If you like your cities with a little bit of a rough edge, with enough architectural and cultural sights and activities to keep you entertained, then Waterford is a wonderful city to visit, especially of looking for a break in a trip between Dublin/Wicklow and Cork/Kerry. Oh...and did I mention the spectacular coastal landscapes and blue flag beaches within 15 minutes drive!
Stradbally is another pretty Waterford village located just east of Dungarvan. The village has won numerous plaudits in Ireland's Tidy Towns competition over the years and a Heritage award from Entente Florale.
Aside from it's pituresque charm, Stradbally is located on the Copper Coast, one of Waterford's trump cards and so unsurprisingly possesses it's own coastal jewels. There are two nice coves in Stradbally, one rocky and one sandy. The more popular sandy cove is spotless and is a popular place for locals on sunny days. There are nioce coastal walks to be enjoyed here also.
Ardmore is located just a short drive west from Dungarvan. Ardmore is a popular tourist destination during the summer and there is a holiday park located here.
Armore is home to one of the best beaches in West Waterford and is also proud home to one of Ireland's most impressive round towers.St. Declan's Round Tower. The village itself is also one of Waterford's most pituresque places.
Not my favourite Waterford town by a long shot, but Tramore does have it's draws, namely a beautiful blue flag beach. The beach in Tramore has been a favourite with Irish sun seekers for years and is rightly noted as being one of Ireland's finest. It's what lies beyond the beach which turns me off. The attraction of Tramore's beach has led to a certain tacky and commercial offshoot, primarily in the growth of fun fair rides and amusement arcades which line the beachfront. This is great for families and when I was younger I used to love all these 'attractions'. Looking at them now is slightly nauseating but kids still love the fun fair and arcades, although they are starting to look a bit run down...maybe they always did and I just didn't notice!!! Another family favourite is Splashworld, an indoor waterpark, which is very handy considering Ireland's penchant for terrible weather.
Tramore's other main draw is it's sufing reputation. Although nothing compared to the west of Ireland, Tramore has gained a steady surf following in the south and lessons and equipment hire is available right along the beachfront.
Lismore is one of Waterford's most pituresque towns. The town is a listed heritage town and is home to the famous travel writer, Dervla Murphy (My favourite travel writer at that).
Apart from Lismore's picture postcard setting on the banks of the River Blackwater, the town's main draw is Lismore Castle which sits on a small hill overlooking the river. The castle has been the Irish home of the Dukes of Devonshire since 1753. St. Cartage's Cathedral and the Ballysaggartmore Towers and walkking trails are other notable things to see in Lismore. The area is also a favourite spot for local anglers.
As you tarvel along the main road between Dungarvan and Waterford City (N25) you can't help but notice the small but spectacular Comeragh Mountain Range which divides Counties Tipperary and Waterford.
You can take a number of turns off the rioad up into the mountains and especially Mahion Falls.
Mahon Falls is a popular walk for visitors and locals alike especially on sunny weekends. The falls are located in the centre of the mountain range and are flanked by high craggy maounain sides. You can either take the path to the falls or if you are out for a bit of a climb you can climb the mountain slopes to take in the falls from a height. There is a free car park nearby where you can leave your car but be advised this carpark becomes very busy at weekends and during the summer and can fill very quickly and there are very few altenative parking opportunities. Also the road is very narrow in places so take it very slowly.
This whole coastal area is a designated European Geo Park. The drive is littered with small seaside villages such as Stradbally, Bunmahon and Annestown. These villages all have their own beautiful beaches and anyone taking this drive will be rewarded with spectacular coastal views and beautiful, unspoilt beaches.
The earliest monastery was founded here by St. Declan who is alleged to have been a bishop in Munster when St. Patrick arrived, and who is one of the main supports for the belief in the existence of Christianity in the south of Ireland before St. Patrick. Two Ogham stones are located in the Cathedral.One of them, called the Lugudeccas Ogham stone, was found in the gable of the Church and is believed to be the burial place of St. Declan, and a hollow in the south-east corner is pointed out as his grave.
The Round Tower and the Cathedral are said to have been built in the 12th century, although the tower could be older (possibly 10th century.
Dungarvan is a compact town with most of the town's amenities centred around the town square. There is a large shopping centre and commercial area just off the square and the town's banks and post office are all located in or around the square.
As you drive through the square you come to Dungarvan Harbour which is very busy during the summer with boats and yachts filling the marina.
Crossing the bridge over the mouth of the Colligan River you are technically leaving Dungarvan and entering the village of Abbeyside. (Very important to make theis destinction as I found out very quickly when I moved here!)
Abbeyside has it's own church and school (I teach in the local primary school in Abbeyside - Scoil Mhuire.) Abbeyside is mainly a residential area but does have a small beach near the primary school which a lot of people use for walking and canoeing)
Dungarvan is a busy thriving town and as holiday detination would suit people interested in the outdoors with a wide variety of watersports, fishing, hill walking, cycling, golfing and swimming on offer as well as a growing commercial and shopping reputation.
Dungarvan would make an ideal stop over for a few days for anybody travelling from Kerry and Cork and going on to Dublin, Wicklow or the East Coast in general.
The castle gardens in Lismore are believed to be the oldest in Ireland, dating from the Jacobean period. They are divided into two sections, the less structured lower level and the more thoroughly planned upper gardens.
We were split in our opinions: Sarah preferred the upper garden, while Gareth couldn't make up his mind. However, we both enjoyed picking out the various vegetables in the upper garden - presumably to be eaten by people staying at the castle. The whole castle - owned by the Duke of Devonshire - can be rented out for a minimum charge of €3,500 per night. For that, you get breakfast, dinner, afternoon tea and full staff service with a butler. Lucky for some!
Wandering around the town of Dungarvan before our wonderful dinner in the The Tannery was an unexpected treat.
There is a good variety of shopping, and for a relatively small town there's a number of different types of restaurants and pubs to choose from. Well worth a wander, especially down near the waterfront, where there are many fishing and sailing vessels.
I have to admit that we did not go into this pub, but the outside was such a perfect shot that we couldn't resist.