I’ve been thinking about Waterford a lot of late and our offering to tourists both national and international, and also our job situation and the fact that so much is being pilfered and taken from us and I think that we need to go back to basics… what is it that makes Waterford unique and special, and what can we build on that they can never take away.
We’re lucky to still have the glass, but unfortunately, this just brings in daytrippers, who spend plenty of money in the glass but not around the city before they head off to kiss the blarney stone. We had a scare recently and the glass could be moved from Waterford and we know Kilmeaden cheddar is made elsewhere now for example.
Other things that have been taken or at least part set up elsewhere, however, the most disastrous one was losing our city status, which was blessed and passed by many of our then elected Councillors (many didn’t get re-elected but have any lessons been learned?). They promised we would still be a city, that nothing would change but we don’t have a city mayor anymore (we have some metropolitan hybrid) and in the local Governments act we can simply call ourselves a city (or pretend we still are). Anyone with Waterford blood coursing through their veins should see that act for what it was and never forgive it until it is completely reversed.
So what can’t they take and can we build on this? I think so?
For me, growing up, Waterford was always about family adventures (not just families with kids but couples and friends too, who want an adventure but not run a marathon over mountain range whilst being chased by minotaurs). Now I know that the west is great at this sort of thing but it seems to be more rugged and wild (certainly Bord Failte think so). Waterford on the other hand, though still rugged, has it’s own spectacular beauty and it can be enjoyed by families. So I was thinking about a list of things that we have that cannot be taken that can be promoted, and Paul Dower, of Waterford in Your Pocket has been doing a great job promoting them. Some of these things include:
– City fabric: historic pubs, local artisan shops, walls and museums, food and culture
– Fabulous beaches incuding woodstown, dunmore, tramore, annestown
– Town offerings: great restaurants and pubs in coastal villages, jack meades, spinnaker, the vic etc.
– Megalithic history: dolmens like gaulstown, knockeen etc.
– Suir valley, which will soon be an unreal greenway
– Gardens such as Mt. Congreve and now Curraghmore opening up
– Playgrounds such as people’s park, fenor bog etc.
– Mountain range with magic hill, beautiful falls, accessible drives and fabulous corrie lakes (untouched)
– Walks at Rathgormack side, hanoras cottage, beautiful nire valley
– Magical little walks like crough wood, newtown, colligan
– Amazing beaches all the way to Ardmore
– Ballysaggartmore towers
– Lismore castle and town
– Dungargvan and it’s countless pubs, restarurants, history, mannicured parks etc.
– Ardmore tower, cliff house, st. declans well, cliff walks
– An Rinn (only gaeltacht this side of Ireland)
– All the way to youghal there’s blackwater, cappoquinn, villierstown, mt. mellary, the vee
When I was with my wife first we used to love exploring together, now we do it with the kids… yeah we were limited for a few years but as they grow they take on more and more of these experiences and we get pleasure showing them, and a blaa with saussies and red sauce on the side of the road never goes astray.
So, the bottom line is this. They can’t take these things from us, lets build on it, sing it from the rooftops more and show people how brilliant Waterford really is. If they use Waterford city and Dungarvan and the other towns and villages as bases money will be spent etc. which will create sustainable jobs as the word spreads about it.
We’ve undersold these assets in the past, nobody else can claim them, but their beauty can claim hearts.
That’s what we should be targetting.