Today was another longish day, not for the same reasons as yesterday, but largely because of the distance covered in order to reach our next hotel base. Today we travelled from Bray to Cork, via Waterford and Ardmore.
Much of the morning was spent on the bus, travelling through Irish countryside that was both as beautiful as that we have already witnessed, but was also fundamentally different in its beauty. In travelling towards Waterford we were moving into the prime farming land of the island of Ireland, and the landscapes we passed bore the evidence of that.
We arrived in the city of Waterford just about lunchtime, and there was an opportunity for the group to ramble through the city, exploring its Viking origins and the general ambience of the city. It was a beautiful experience aided by beautiful weather.
The city of Waterford is, of course, well-known for one its premier products, Waterford Crystal. We had the opportunity to tour the exhibition factory watching the various master craftsmen go about their work creating some of the range of products that Waterford create. It was fascinating to watch these people who, after a five-year apprenticeship, spend three years mastering their particular craft, before being awarded the appellation of ‘master craftsmen’.
One of the things we all commented on was the way in which these master craftsmen would not be able to carry out their task in Australia because of the dictates of work health and safety regulations. Oh well…
After leaving Waterford, we continued our journey toward the city of Cork, with a planned stop at Ardmore. Why I hear you ask? Because St Declan founded a monastery there in the mid-fourth century, the ruins of which now sit high on a headland overlooking the village of Ardmore and the water of the south coast of Ireland.
Not much is left of the monastic settlement of St Declan, but the original cathedral church along with his reputed place of burial still stand on the headland, along with a round tower. It was a moving experience to once again stand in a place where Christianity has flourished for in excess of 1500 years, and where the pursuit of understanding and Godly wisdom was considered a holy undertaking. Down to this day, we are the beneficiaries of places like Ardmore, from where Europe was ‘re-Christianised’ after the Dark Ages.
After a short stop at Ardmore, we continued on to Cork, arriving in time for dinner and retiring to bed in preparation for tomorrow’s journey.