Going the Old School Route
GAELIC GETAWAY, CHAPTER 8: IN WHICH WE GO BACK IN WATERFORD HISTORY
Days 8 & 9: Waterford. On Tuesday we spent most of the day in our room at the Granville Hotel in Waterford, doing some writing, post card and package preparation, planning and a bit of relaxing. For lunch, we went downstairs to the hotel's restaurant, where the midday meal was being served carvery style. Like its country cousin at the Rhu Glenn Hotel outside town where we stayed before moving into the ciy, the restaurant sets up a buffet for lunch.
The menu is very limited with a couple of types of meat freshly sliced to order and a few choices of mostly overcooked vegetables served in generous portions. Potatoes are offered in various styles—boiled, mashed, and fried. After your plate is filled, the server asks if you want gravy. If you consent, everything on your plate will be smothered.
|Lined up out the door for the carvery lunch at the Granville|
At the bottom of the photo of the model is Reginald's Tower. Constructed in the beginning of the 13th century as part of the city wall, the tower is the oldest civic building in Ireland and serves today as a museum housing artifacts and exhibits relating the Viking period of Waterford history. While we were visiting the tower, a gaggle of elementary age students tumbled into the museum on a field trip. Soon they were enjoying a lively story about Viking days from a talented raconteur on the museum staff. We suspect that the kids had no idea it was a history lesson.
|Tucked into the Viking Triangle, the Medieval Museum building was designed around historic structures.|
|Waterford's Great Charter Roll (photo from irishartsreview.com)|
|Bishop's Palace (photo from zolkc.com)|
As the son of a wealthy family, Meagher had attended college in England. In 1848, he traveled to France to learn about the strategies and events which had led to the successful French Revolution the previous century. While there, a group of French women sympathetic to Irish nationalist aspirations presented Meagher with a tricolor flag they had designed. Similar to the French national flag in design, this Irish tricolor incorporated green for the Gaelic Celts, orange for the Normans, and white for the union and peaceful co-existence of the two for more than 600 years.
After Meagher returned to Ireland, he displayed the flag outside his home and was more insistent than ever that a violent overthrow was the only way to expel the British. Unable to persuade others to their view, the young radicals mounted their own rebellion in August of 1848. Though they failed to attract widespread support for the ill-fated, one-skirmish war, Meagher and eight other Young Ireland leaders were tried for treason against the Queen.
According to legend, the judge at their trial asked if any wished to make a statement before he passed sentence. Meagher, speaking for all, is credited with saying: "My lord, this is our first offense, but not our last. If you will be easy with us this once, we promise, on our word as gentlemen, to try to do better next time. And next time—sure we won't be fools to get caught."
|Statue of Meagher in Waterford|
Tasmania was an isolated, wild and dangerous island, and transportation to the penal colony there was itself considered punishment without the exiles being incarcerated. Upon his arrival, Meagher was given freedom to move around the island in exchange for an agreement to notify authorities if he ever planned to escape. Three years later, he did just that and left the island in a rowboat. His Irish luck held again when he was picked up by an American whaling ship and taken to San Francisco.
Observing how the United States was thriving after ousting the British, Meagher connected with the Irish-American community who knew his reputation well, and continued his efforts to promote Irish nationalism. After traveling extensively in Central and South America, he returned to New York City, where he trained as an attorney, established a reputation for oratory, and founded a popular Irish-American newspaper.
|Portrait of Meagher at Bishop's Palace shows him in Union Army uniform.|
A few months after the war, Meagher was appointed governor of the Montana territory by President Andrew Johnson. In Waterford, a widely accepted apocryphal story credits Meagher with being a pall bearer at Abraham Lincoln's funeral, but readily available evidence proves otherwise. Yet with such a larger than life figure, who epitomized the image of the "fighting Irish," it's easy to see how it could seem credible.
While learning about Waterford's favorite son was interesting in its own right, his story reminded us once again of how the threads of one's life and travels weave themselves into a sweeping tapestry with no thought or direction from us.
|Ken studying Meagher statue at Montana State Capitol|
One final detail that stirs us to feel connected to this Irish hero is how much his portrait at Bishop's Palace bears an uncanny resemblance to someone near and dear to us—our cousin Bruce.
In 1916, Meagher's tricolor Irish flag was raised during the Easter Rebellion and became what he hoped it would—a symbol of Irish independence. When the Republic of Ireland was established in 1927, it became the national flag.
Tomorrow we'll leave Meagher's hometown and drive to Cork, the third largest city in Ireland.
- Started in Waterford, ended in Waterford
- Miles walked: 2.1 (Trip total: 23.8)
- Weather - 39° to 53°. Rain, wind, clouds, repeat.
TUESDAY, 8 DECEMBER, & WEDNESDAY, 9 DECEMBER, 2015
More Photos from Today
|Reginald's Tower and a replica of a Viking longboat at the tip of the Viking Triangle|
|911 Memorial sculpture created by House of Waterford glass artist|
|Sean Egan, who created 911 Memorial piece above, works at a kiosk in the Medieval Museum.|
|1783 decanter on exhibit at Bishop's Palace is oldest known piece of Waterford Crystal.|
|The garrulous Derek from a Waterford web page advertising his tours|