Finn “Robin Hood” McSpool Takes a Detour to Waterford

We’re back with another stop on our tour of all things Finn McSpool. Finn, damn it, stop hogging the keyboard. Sorry, about that. That should read, another tour of all things Ireland. While Kilkenny is a gorgeous little town that I could nestle into for a month or more, one morning Mr Husband and I decided to take advantage of the easy connection from Kilkenny to Waterford via Dublin Coach.

We checked outside. Just a bit of rain, maybe it’ll pass by the time we finish breakfast. At the mere mention of the word “breakfast” Finn was charging down the stairs on his stubby, stripey legs and tucking into a lovely portion of pancakes….MY portion of pancakes!

At least he saved me some.

Apparently breakfast does nothing to drive away the clouds, so we grabbed our umbrellas and trekked off to the bus stop. Bus rides also do nothing to improve the weather and by the time we got to Waterford there was a steady rain coming down. Luckily, we’d planned an indoor activity: The Treasures of Waterford Medieval Museum.

Finn got all excited when he heard the word “treasure” (not as excited as hearing the word “breakfast”, but…), so we bought our tickets and were directed toward this thing.

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Finn, not using his inside voice, shouted “What in the world is that?” then dashed over to it and began exploring.

Turns out, it’s the remains of a 13th century spiral staircase. Don’t worry this doesn’t go to dizzying heights like the round tower at St Canice’s. instead it leads you down, down, down, and puts you out here….

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I know, ooooh, especially if (like me) you far prefer exploring underground things than climbing soaring towers.

This was once a cloister hall, built around 1270. But if you keep walking back through the hall, you step up into something more up my alley: a 15th century wine cellar!! And not just any old wine cellar, the oldest wine cellar in Ireland (Waterford imported HUGE amounts of wine back then). Unfortunately, it was super dark in there, so no photos, but you can take a peek on the museum’s website here and read a bit more about the cellar, if you like.

After imagining a bunch of drunken choristers belting out their tunes, it was time to hit the other two floors of the museum. Besides a gob of religious relics, one of the treasures of the museum is the Great Charter Roll of Waterford (notice the capitals, that means it’s super official). This document, which asserts the English control over the port of Waterford, measures a whopping 4 meters long (that’s about 13 feet for you non-metric-minded folks). Besides a bunch of legal jargon, the roll is decorated with illustrations of the kings of England from Henry II to Edward III.

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Image stolen from the museum’s website.

The charter dates from 1373 and is in pretty good shape for its age, but there’s still some shabby bits. To bring the illustrations to life, the museum has made 3-D panels of each of the portraits, even matching that pesky medieval lack of perspective.

Finn took a liking to this guy but was a little disappointed to find out he couldn’t get the horse to go anywhere.

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Another of the treasures in the museum is a collection of cloth of gold vestments that date from the 1460s. I’m not religious, but I can appreciate fine workmanship and a good story. So, here’s the story…

These vestments were made of Italian silk and embroidered in Bruges and really give a good indication of the wealth of the church back then. When Oliver Cromwell showed up in the mid-1600s, he wanted to do away with any ostentatious religious display. The church wasn’t about to let these lovely capes be destroyed so they buried them. Cromwell charged through Waterford doing his thing (killing and destroying), but the treasure trove was never found….for 123 years! Yeah, after burying the vestments, the church basically forgot about them. Then, when a portion of the cathedral they’d been burned under was being demolished, the workers found the vestments! Finders keepers, right?!!

Even though there was a pretty cool animated cartoon to tell the story of the vestments, Finn was getting a little bored (maybe if the vestments had been made of Irish wool, he’d have been more interested). So we set off in search of something more exciting: weapons! With Waterford being such a wealthy port, there was plenty of need to defend it and some of that defense came from archers…

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And of course, Finn, tapping into his inner Robin Hood, wanted to try his paw at archery. Um, Finn, that might not be where you want to sit…

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Screaming monster in 3…2…

Phew, with all that horse riding and archery learning, Finn was thirsty. He trotted over and asked for a drink, but these wenches seemed to be too busy to serve him. Luckily, I snagged him before he caused a ruckus with those wine barrels.

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I’ll just have one barrel for now.

Museum touring complete, we thought of exploring more of Waterford. Seems that, like breakfast and like bus rides, visiting museums does not improve the weather. In fact, it makes it worse. The wind was lashing and the rain was coming down sideways at this point. We tried to stick it out, but it was simply too miserable so we caught the early bus back to Kilkenny.

By the time we returned, the rain had let up and we were able to do a little more exploring. That final bit of exploring means there’s one more post to get to about Kilkenny, but you’ll just have to wait because….

Next week we’ll take a little break from the Tour of Ireland and check in with one of the newest members of the Beastie family. Unlike Finn, he’s been put to work. But just like Finn, he’s found some trouble to get up to. See you then!!

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11 thoughts on “Finn “Robin Hood” McSpool Takes a Detour to Waterford

  1. Finn goes to some interesting places! I love the photo of him perched on the arrow! What a cool medieval structure to visit! Glad you stopped Finn before he toppled the wine barrels!

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    1. He does get to go to some great destinations; luckily, he gets in free. I was lured to the museum solely to see the medieval cellar, but the whole place turned out to be more interesting than I expected. And Finn should really know better than to risk spilling any boozey beverage!

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  2. Oh, Finn! Hopefully slurping on a whole barrel of wine kept him happy on the bus on the way back to Kilkenny! 😆 I think it’s nearly 3 decades since I last set foot in Waterford, but it looks like it’s definitely worth a visit… Well, provided there was any of it left after Mr McSpool was done. I especially love the pictures with the archers and the 3D panel from the charter… Although I think the guy from the charter illustration should consider investing in a slightly bigger horse! 😂

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    1. I know, I feel so sorry for that poor little horse. The “Viking Triangle” part of Waterford looked like it might be interesting, unfortunately we were couldn’t see past our umbrellas and the lashing rain to enjoy much of it. As for the barrels, I think they might have been empty…even before Finn got to them. I think those wenches drank it all!!

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      1. Wenches! Didn’t they know Finn would be thirsty? But then, he always is. 😂 And oh, the Irish weather strikes again! It sounds like you were fending off all our allotted rainfall for the entire summer that day… It hasn’t rained here in a fortnight, and we’re now officially having a drought! 😵

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      2. I do think that’s why we didn’t have any nasty weather after that day…the clouds ran out of juice. Drought after only two weeks? Crikey, we go two months without rain in the summer…imagine the apocalyptic messages Ireland would be sending if THAT happened 😂😉😂

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      3. It doesn’t even bear thinking about! I’m pretty sure the economy would just grind to a halt, and supermarkets wouldn’t be able to keep up with the demand for teeny disposable barbecues! 😂

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  3. Accckkk sorry about the lousy weather, but it looks like you picked a good indoor activity to keep you busy! That’s crazy about the vestments! I’m glad they were preserved. And you know I love a good illuminated text… did you spot any snails? Cool, dark underground exploration looks just dandy to me after your life-threatening exploits teetering on that tower. Thanks for the tour!

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    1. Well, since that day was the only really crappy weather day we had over the course of two and a half weeks in Ireland, I can’t complain TOO much (still, it was REALLY nasty). Oh I totally forgot to check for snails! Since I didn’t notice any on the panels, I’m going to assume this was a mollusk-free document. The story of the vestments was pretty amazing. The only trouble was the cartoon makes them look very shiny and sparkly, but when you see them in real life, they were much less Elvis-like.

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