Better late than never, here is a report on my visit to Waterford last weekend to talk at the GIY (Grow It Yourself) Gathering*. It was an interesting day (I was just there on the Sunday) with some very technical speakers. I am ashamed to say that the fact I remember most clearly from the talks I listened to was that the Irish Soil Information System is going to have to change its acronym – as a result of recent world events!
I did not realise at the time but the Gathering was just a part of the Waterford Harvest Festival. The whole city was out on a sunny day having a great time and I was mightily impressed and could not help but be caught up in the happiness.
Waterford is a lovely city. In my mind (and I apologise to the residents of the city and of Wexford) Waterford and Wexford are rather similar. I think this is because, from where I arrive, both are approached by a bridge over a river, you can park on the quayside on the west bank and walk up the inclined streets to the town (city) and both are cultural centres. Of course Waterford is bigger and I will leave you to Google for more facts. It is the oldest city in Ireland and the 5th biggest and also the place where the tricolour was first flown. Like most parts of Ireland the tricolour flies next to the EU flag and the stars and stripes. I understand why the Union flag doesn’t appear much what with anglo-irish history but I did find it curious that Waterford makes a big deal of its Viking history. But then the city was first established by the Vikings, soon after overrun by the local Irish and soon after retaken by Vikings. This is Reginald’s Tower.
The only recognition of English invaders seemed to be this.
But back to Waterford last Sunday and the Harvest Festival. The whole city was dressed up. I loved these carrot trees.
And this scarecrow, complete with crows!
And any city that has a pub named after me has to be OK.
A focus of the activities was the street outside the Theatre Royal and opposite the Waterford Crystal Centre. When I arrived at 9am and the stall holders were setting up it was eerily quiet.
But that soon changed.
Everyone was having a great time.
There were some imaginatively decorated wheel barrows.
For the nature lover…
For the speedy weeder…
For the marauder…
There were lots of foods, crafts and activities such as this pole lathe.
And I had time to explore other parts of the city such as New Street community garden, opened by President Michael D Higgins this summer. It was packed with families all having fun.
I did pop into Waterford Crystal too but I have to say that I didn’t see anything I couldn’t live without (or could afford).
There is interest around every corner…
…but the highlight of the day may have been seeing this butcher shop…
Where did that name come from? ( I think it is more accurately Tosh Widger). Even better, the small poster on the right side of the door reads:
‘I will heel you,
I will save your sole.
I will even dye for you.
John Ryan – shoe repair
The experience will stay with me as one of the most memorable afternoons I have had so far here in Ireland and I would recommend making a note in your diary to go next year if you can.