Dr. Bill O' Gorman, from WIT, speaking about this site on WLR

Friday, July 17, 2009

Waterford: Urbs Intacta Manet Waterfordia

The Vikings first established themselves in Ireland at Waterford in 914 and built what would be Ireland's first and now oldest city. Waterford is the largest city in Ireland to retain its Viking-derived name, Vedrarfjord. The Vikings choose Waterford due to the fact that the three rivers, the Suir, the Nore and the Barrow, all entered the harbour there. The place where the three rivers join is known in Irish as Cumar na dTrí Uisce, "the confluence of the three waters".

Waterford Port has been one of Ireland's major ports for over a millennium. Due to its geographical location and its importance as a centre of trade, Waterford was seen as a key stronghold by various leaders throughout history and many attempts were made to capture the city.

In 1137, Diarmuid MacMorrough, King of Leinster, failed in an attempt to take Waterford. He returned in 1170 with Norman mercenaries under Richard de Clare, 2nd Earl of Pembroke (Strongbow); together they besieged and took Waterford after a desperate defence. This was the introduction of the Anglo-Normans into Ireland.

King Henry II took control of the city the following year and many Vikings were expelled. As a result, trade in Waterford increased rapidly. The King declared Waterford and then Dublin as royal cities. Over the following centuries, imports and exports were shipped from Waterford Port to and from England and the Continent to Spain, France and Italy.

Throughout the medieval period, Waterford was Ireland's second city after Dublin. In the fifteenth century Waterford repelled two pretenders to the English throne: Lambert Simnel and Perkin Warbeck. As a result, King Henry VII gave the city its motto: Urbs Intacta Manet Waterfordia (Waterford remains the untaken city).

Waterford was very important strategically in the Irish Confederate War. Its port allowed for the importation of arms and supplies from continental Europe and, its geographical position commanded the entrance of the rivers Suir, Nore and Barrow. In 1649 Waterford withstood a siege by Cromwell's New Model Army. It later surrendered to Henry Ireton on 6 August 1650. Waterford was the last Irish Catholic stronghold to hold out in the east of Ireland against the English Parliamentarian forces.

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