This was a two-part day for us. Part one took us on a morning ride through the rural Irish countryside to the little town of Inistioge and a visit to the magnificent Jerpoint Abbey. Following this was part two of our day - a ride from the ship to the City of Waterford.
The day began overcast, but rain-free. Sitting on the balcony with my morning coffee and the Princess version of an Egg McMuffin, I admired the beautiful Ireland countryside as we pulled into Waterford.
We did not want to leave Ireland without seeing some of this beautiful land of green and, therefore, booked the ship’s Rural Ireland & Jerpoint Abbey tour. By the time we headed off the ship for the tour, the rain had begun and continued on and off through most of the day. Our guide for the tour was Mary, a very personable and knowledgeable woman, whose charming Irish brogue reminded me of Mrs. Doubtfire.
The tour took us on a ride through beautiful rolling hills of green and farmland filled with horses, cows and sheep. We arrived at Jerpoint Abbey, some really amazing ruins of a Cistercian abbey founded in the second half of the 12th century, with the tower and cloister dating back to the 15th century.
We were led by a knowledgeable guide who took us through the old monastery chapels, pointing out interesting tomb sculpture, as well as the sculptured cloister with some very detailed carvings.
Our next stop on the tour was the little village of Inistioge, along the River Nore, where we spent about 15 minutes photographing the scenery and the remaining 10 minutes in a small Irish pub enjoying a pint of Guinness with David’s new-found Irish friend “Patty” and a few other locals.
It was perfect – we couldn’t get much more authentic Irish than this! We then made our way back to the ship for lunch before heading out, once again, this time to the shuttle for a ride into Waterford.
The port of Belview, Ireland, is approximately 20 minutes from the City of Waterford. When traveling to Waterford from the ship, cruise passengers are not permitted to walk out of the gated port of Belview. Fortunately, Princess provided a complimentary shuttle to the city. We also saw four or five taxis waiting, it didn’t make sense to pay for a taxi here, when Princess provided a free ride.
Of all the ports on our itinerary, this was one I was least interested in and did the least amount of research on. After all, my main intent was to see rural Ireland and some monastery ruins. Without any kind of plan in mind, except for mention of a City Square Shopping Center, we headed in that direction, figuring we would pick up some gifts. Well, it was Saturday, there was an outdoor festival going on in Waterford, and the streets were mobbed. Furthermore, the shopping center was literally just a huge, crowded mall with chain stores mixed in with local shops. I was beginning to feel claustrophobic, and since no one else in the family was enjoying this, we headed back toward some other recommended sights, like Reginald’s Tower, the Greyfriars ruins and the House of Waterford Crystal, stopping on the way to pick up a few gifts.
We prefer the historical aspects of touring and found these places more interesting and enjoyable than trying to maneuver a busy shopping center full of stores that we can find back home. Waterford is the oldest city in Ireland and I am sure has many fine qualities. However, after spending time in quaint Canterbury two days before, it was hard to become excited about Waterford’s traffic, crowded streets and noise. It was my least favorite city on this itinerary.