WATERFORD’S claim to be Ireland’s oldest city is no mean boast and it is fully deserving of the opportunity to get a €10m facelift.
On a damp day, few cities or towns look greyer than the old Norse port, which is soon to be made more “people-centred” with a network of public spaces at its heart. The revamp, involving a major urban renewal project worthy of a historic European city, will begin in the coming months and take three years to complete. Not before time.
Historically, Waterford is one of the richest of Ireland’s cities. A Viking settlement was established there in 853 and the town council has been presided over by a mayor since 1337. As generations of pupils have learned, having failed to take the port by arms in 1167, Diarmuid Mac Murchada, the deposed king of Leinster, returned three years later with Strongbow who besieged the city and breached its defences. When King Henry II landed there in 1172, the Norman conquest of Ireland began — a legacy many a city would envy.
In more recent times, its fame has centred around the Waterford Glass story. Sadly, its demise saw local fortunes dwindle as a string of industries closed down. That’s what gives the planned revamp, including the restoration of the fabled Apple Market, even greater significance.
The creation of public spaces, breathing new life into this old city of narrow streets and laneways, is the kind of shot in the arm the people of Waterford could do with.
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