Waterford’s rebranding to link past with future plans

A MASSIVE redevelopment and rebranding of Waterford’s Viking Triangle and an iconic pedestrian bridge connecting the Clock Tower with the city’s north quays are the centre-pieces of Waterford’s pitch to the Government under the Gateway Innovation Fund.

The proposals also include projects to maximise the amenity and tourism potential of the world-famous Mount Congreve gardens in Co Waterford; to market the development potential of the Waterford Institute of Technology West Campus and the IDA Ireland land-bank at Carriganore, Co Waterford, and to increase the capacity of and facilities at the port’s Waterford Container Terminal in Belview.

Seen as crucial to unlocking Waterford’s potential as gateway to the south-east, the fund was established under the National Development Plan 2007-2013 to stimulate targeted development in gateway locations and the Waterford City Council bid — prepared in partnership with neighbouring local authorities Waterford County Council and Kilkenny County Council — sets out how Ireland’s oldest city will look in 2011 when it welcomes back the Tall Ships Races.

Showcasing 1,000 years of history within a 500mradius of Reginald’s Tower, the Viking Triangle — an area bordered by the River Suir, The Mall and Cathedral Square — will include a National Viking Centre housing the Viking artefacts recovered at the Woodstown site during work on the Waterford city bypass.

Also nearby will be Medieval Galleries close to Greyfriars Church, while the former Bishop’s Palace on the Mall will house exhibits tracing Waterford’s history from the 18th century onwards.

A full infrastructure to facilitate tourists accessing the area is also provided for in the ambitious €120m plans which include retailing and restaurants. A life-sized recreation of a Viking ship will replace a 20th century apartment building that was inserted in a row of 18th century houses on the Mall.

As well as the medieval Franciscan Friary at Greyfriars, the Viking Triangle contains medieval undercrofts that will also be made accessible under the present plans. More recent buildings such as the Waterford City Hall and the former Bishop’s Palace will both be freed up by development of the €310m Government Quarter nearby, while the John Roberts-designed Christ Church Cathedral is being brought back into wider public use. The adjacent Theatre Royal is also set to be revamped as a key 21st century cultural space.

Launching the bid, Mayor of Waterford Councillor Mary O’Halloran said that the combination of the Viking Triangle and a 21st century landmark bridge connecting both sides of the Suir showed a keen sense of the need for the city to preserve and showcase the best of its rich past, while also planning for a prosperous future.

“We have remarkable historic assets in Waterford and the Viking Triangle will unlock the potential for these assets to be presented in a more attractive way as we develop as the gateway to the south-east. Something that particularly excites me about the proposals is that they will open out currently hidden parts of Waterford to be enjoyed not only by visitors but on an everyday basis by all of us who live and work here.

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