Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Waterford and Kilkenny

Our tour today was supposed to go to the Waterford crystal factory, but the factory closed in 2009 with huge debts. The factory was the most famous producer of hand-cut crystal world-wide, since its opening by a Czech immigrant in 1948.

Instead our tour stopped in New Ross for a chance to tour the Dunbrody, a historic emigrant ship. Soon after his inauguration, John F. Kennedy returned to Ireland to visit the site where his grandfather was born. This visit was a great event in Ireland as they were very proud that a descendant of an Irish emigrant became President of the United States. After JFK's death, the JFK Trust was formed and they provided the funds for an exact replica of the Dunbrody to be built. The original was built in 1845 in Quebec (due to lack of large timber in Ireland) and is a key part of Ireland's history.

This impressive three-masted ship carried thousands of Irish people from the desperation of the Great Famine in Ireland to America, the land that offered them hope of a better life.

This replica now sits in the harbour in New Ross and is a major tourist attraction.


This is our tour guide explaining the differences in accommodations for first class and steerage. A first-class cabin cost 25 Pounds, which might not sound like much, but at the time, you could buy many acres of land for 5 Pounds. The price of a steerage bunk was 5 Pounds.



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This is Mary White, a steerage passenger, who was travelling with her sick husband and five children. They still believed that travelling for 50 days in steerage would bring a better life in America than they had in Ireland.

This was some of the food they would have eaten on their long journey.

Listen to the different accents of a steerage passenger and a first-class passenger. Mary White, in steerage, was worried about her sick husband. As the ship's manifest shows, her husband did not survive the journey, and sadly, neither did she. Their five orphaned children made it to New York, but there was no record of them after.

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Mrs. O'Brien was a first-class passenger with much more refined speech. Her husband owned a store in New Ross, and their hope was to run a store for her brother in America.


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Before we got on the ship, we were each given a ticket with our steerage identity. Mine was Catherine Jordan. I appeared to be a single mother with 4 children. We were able to find our bunk in steerage with our name on it. Each family occupied one bunk for all family members and all of their belongings.


I found my bunk with my name on it...

Here is my bunk...no mattress here!


The ship's wheel...the ship had a crew of 10. Five would work and five would sleep before rotating. First-class passengers would dine with the captain each evening, and had the option of going on deck at any time. Steerage passengers were allowed out for an hour each day, weather permitting.


After the tour of the ship, we got back on the bus and continued onto Waterford. Waterford is a great tourist town that is enjoying a revival since tearing down old warehouses on the waterfront and opening up high-end stores.


Clock tower in the middle of town...

We all headed off in search of lunch and more shops!

We ended up in Doolan's Pub and enjoyed a good lunch...

You can always find a Guinness!

Hmmm....Subway! I wonder if it's the same worldwide...no time to find out....

Back on the bus and back to Kilkenny for some more shopping and sightseeing.
This was called the Ivy House with good reason...
The streets of Kilkenny, a city rich in medieval heritage...
Kilkenny Castle, built in 1195...it was one of our options to tour, but there wasn't enough time.

We decided to walk back to the hotel rather than wait for the bus. The River Suir which we crossed on our way back...

We ended up back at the hotel just before the bus returned and sat outside enjoying a glass of wine. A few memorable moments which I didn't have a camera to capture...at dinner Bernie and Pat ordered a bottle of wine and the year on the bottle was written over in pen to say 2006. We aren't sure what year it really was! After dinner, Pat, Jim and I walked to a pub nearby for an Irish coffee. Pat decided that rather than going through the doors, she would try to find an opening in the wall. It was quite hilarious...oh, for the camera!

Tomorrow we are off to Dublin...

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