Ireland: Explore with The Waterford Greenway
by Walter Cullinan
Saturday, January 27, 2018
County Waterford is located in the “Sunny South East’ of Ireland. It’s famous for its beautiful beaches, Viking heritage and rich historical background. In the summer of 2017, they added to its long list of reasons to visit, with the opening of the new Waterford Greenway. It is a magnificent 46km off-road cycling and walking trail, on an old railway line. It stretches all the way from Waterford City to the beautiful seaside town of Dungarvan. The Greenway is a great way to discover Waterford, here are some more reasons to start your journey along the Greenway and beyond.
Breath Taking Views
Waterford has some of the most amazing views in Ireland. Glistening beaches, mountains and some of the oldest architecture in Ireland. In 1878, there were two viaducts built which have been renovated and you can now see some amazing views on them. One overlooks the lively town of Kilmacthoms, which has been rejuvenated by the addition of the Greenway. The second viaduct in Ballyvoyle, which was blown up in 1922 during the Irish Civil War but was rebuilt in 1924, is over-looking green forestry, towering trees, a river and has an amazing view of the Comeragh Mountains.
After the Ballyvoyle viaduct, you will begin to smell the fresh sea air as you begin to see the beautiful coastline, where you will be able to admire Clonea Strand and Dungarvan Bay. Near Durrow, you will find one of the most symbolic parts of the trail. You will be able to cycle through an old train tunnel which stretches a quarter of a mile long. The tunnel was built in 1878 but has been renovated and there’s no better sight on a summer’s day, cycling through the darkness and bursting onto the sun-drenched path at the end of the tunnel.
Discover Ireland’s History
Partly why the Greenway is so great is because not only is it a fun way to explore Waterford but also a new way to learn more about the history of Ireland.
Ireland’s cities including Dublin and Cork were founded by the Scandinavian conquerors known as the Vikings. On the Greenway, you can see one of the earliest Viking sites, dating back to the 9th Century. The site can be seen from Killotteran Bridge on the Greenway. Artefacts from the site are displayed in Waterford’s famous museum Reginald’s Tower, visit WaterfordTreasures.com for more info.
Along the Greenway, you will find some of the most amazing sights. One of these sights is Mount Congreve Estate. It a world renowned 18th Century garden, famous for its airy open space, flowers of every size and shape imaginable. It is truly a beautiful and colourful stop to take a breather. Kilmeaden Castle or formerly known as le Poer Castle was captured and destroyed by Oliver Cromwell in c.1650. Waterford was one of the few cities Cromwell failed to conquer.
Historical towns of Kilmacthomas and Dungarvan
There are old workhouses situated in Kilmacthomas which were built in 1850. The architecture is rustic with a modern feel. Now the workhouses are home to small businesses for the Greenway. Coachouse Coffee offers some of the nicest and fanciest coffee around along with hearty meals to help you refuel. You can also hire bikes here, so it’s an ideal stop for a large group or family.
Seeing a lot of Ireland’s wildlife and history, which is being conserved in Dungarvan, are some of the main reasons to explore Dungarvan. You can often find seals, wild birds and otters in the bay. Dungarvan is also home to a castle, formerly known as King John’s Castle. It was built in the 13th century and is now a quaint museum. Walton Park is also a nice area for a stroll in Dungarvan. It is named after Ernest Walton, a physicist and Nobel prize winner. Not many people (even in Waterford) know that he was the first man in history to artificially split the atom.
Experience the Atmosphere
With all the things the Waterford Greenway has brought to Waterford including new businesses, rejuvenation of towns, money and world-class facilities, without a doubt the best thing it has brought is the atmosphere and buzz around the rural area. You can meet all kinds of people on the Greenway, families, fitness freaks and friendly folks. Everyone is out making the most of the outdoors, especially during the fresh spring and summer days.
Some of the local businesses are full of characters. In Durrow, there’s Tom and Helen an old couple, who love to have a chat and enjoy meeting people from all over the world. Alongside them is also The Greenway Man, Garvan Cummins, who will rent you a bike and eagerly listen to your story or tell you a tale of his own travels.
In Dungarvan, in the beautiful newly renovated town-square there are lots of cafés and pubs to meet people from all around the world. My favourite café is the Gourmet House, a cosy little café which serves the best locally sourced Irish produce and even buys coffee brewed in Dungarvan. The atmosphere and the wonderful Greenway are two major reasons to visit Waterford during your next trip to Ireland.
Exploring beyond the Greenway
Most of all, the Greenway is encouraging tourists and locals alike to explore more of County Waterford. Where you’ll find some of the most beautiful coastlines in the country. Whether it’s a wintery walk amongst the washed up firewood or a trek across the rocks of the Copper Coast. Maybe even a swim or a surf on Waterford’s waves, although it might be a lot calmer than the waves of the Wild Atlantic Way.
Furthermore, why not check out some of the world’s most famous and sought-after crystal at the Waterford Crystal Museum. It has a rich history and is famous all over the world. Lismore is one of Waterford’s most famous places, with a towering castle on the Blackwater River, which dates back to the 2nd Century. The Comeragh Mountains are home to some of the most amazing views. If you’re feeling really adventurous you can experience the fresh (freezing) water of Coumshingaun lake.
Experience something different by exploring Ireland’s oldest city, surrounded by some of the most amazing sites and scenes Ireland has to offer. Waterford is becoming more popular as people start to get a taste of what is have to offer. So, what better way to start than by taking a tour of it’s famous Greenway?