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This article is about the city in Ireland. For other uses of the name, see Waterford, disambiguation.

Waterford City
Along the quays in Waterford City
Waterford City
Area: 41.58 kmē
County: County Waterford
Population: 44,594 (2002)
Province: Munster

Waterford (Irish: Port Lairge) is, historically, the capital of County Waterford in Ireland, though today the city is administered separately from the county, the latter which has its seat in Dungarvan.

Founded by the Vikings in the mid-800s, Waterford was Ireland's first true city. Today Waterford is the fifth largest city in the Republic of Ireland.

Its most famous product is Waterford Crystal which originated here when a glassmaking factory was opened in the city in 1783. Waterford Institute of Technology is a modern college located in the city.



Central Statistics Office 2002:

City council area: 44,594
Urban population: 46,736


Waterford's effective population is much larger than this, with many people living in the towns and villages surrounding the city: the largest of which is Tramore (pop. 8,305).

Co. Kilkenny: 11,459
Co. Waterford: 18,353

History in brief

From 795 AD, Vikings had been raiding along the coast of Ireland. Soon the Vikings over-wintered in Ireland at ships' havens called Longphorts. A longphort was established at Waterford in 853. Waterford and all the other longphorts were vacated in 902, the Vikings having being driven out by the native Irish. According to the Irish annals, the Vikings re-established themselves in Ireland at Waterford in 914 and built what would be Ireland's first city.

In 1137, Diarmuid MacMorrough, king of Lenster, failed in an attempt to take Waterford. He was trying to secure the large centres in order to advance his claim for high king of Ireland. In 1170 MacMorrough allied himself with Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke (Strongbow); together they besieged and took Waterford after a desperate defence. This was the introduction of the Anglo-Normans into Ireland. In 1171, Henry II of England became the first English king to set foot in an Irish city, by landing with a large fleet at Waterford; he did so to ensure that Ireland became an English colony and not a rival Norman country. Waterford and Dublin were declared royal cities, and belonged to the king, not Strongbow; Dublin was declared capital of Ireland.

Throughout the medieval period, Waterford was Ireland's second city after Dublin. Waterford's great parchment book (1361-1649) represents the earliest use of the English language in Ireland for official purposes. 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).

Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, Barronstrand st., Waterford
Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, Barronstrand st., Waterford

Waterford remained a Catholic city despite the machinations of king Henry VIII, and participated in the confederation of Kilkenny which was an attempt to break away from british rule. This was ended abruptly by Oliver Cromwell, who brought the country back firmly under British rule, massacring thousands in the process; his nephew Ireton finally took Waterford in 1651.

The 18th century was a period of huge prosperity for Waterford. Most of the city's best architecture appeared during this time. Trading with Newfoundland brought much wealth into what was then the third largest port. In the 19th century, great industries such as glass making and ship building thrived in the city. Thomas Francis Meagher (Meagher of the sword), an Irish nationalist, made the first Irish tri-colour. He brought it back from France and it was first flown from a building on the Mall in Waterford. In the early 20th century John Redmond was MP for Waterford and leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, which almost achieved home rule and a new parliament for Ireland.

See also

Cities in Ireland
Republic of Ireland: Dublin | Cork | Limerick | Galway | Waterford | Kilkenny
Northern Ireland: Belfast | Derry | Armagh | Newry | Lisburn

Last updated: 10-24-2004 05:10:45