Waterford, a beautiful little town about 4 hours southeast from Athlone, a long bus ride, but beautiful countryside to pass through, and well worth the trip.
The town itself has several lovely churches, the first we stepped into was the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, just down the street from this beautiful clock tower.
Love the leaves changing color on this little tree out front. The inside of the church was so beautiful with stained glass windows and Waterford crystal chandeliers!
Excited from seeing the lovely chandeliers in the church, we made our way over to the Waterford Crystal Factory for a tour!
They had a neat start to the tour in a mirrored room watching a short video of all the famous Waterford pieces, including the Crystal Millennium ball in Times Square (pictured below) It was really cool to see the video projected in the room because it bounced off the mirror walls creating the feeling of being inside a piece of crystal!
The whole tour was so interesting. This guy cuts all the moulds for special pieces out of wood.
I love to watch glass blowing, it is amazing how much strength they have (apparently it is WAY harder than blowing up a balloon) and they seem to do it with ease!
Then the glass is marked for cutting
And hand cut! These guys are masters, they have to study for 4 years, the apprentice for another 3 years before they can cut on their own, so they really know what they are doing. It's sad though, apparently there aren't any young people coming into learn the process, hopefully it won't die out!
Amazing watching their hands work. And the are so focused and calm, even with tourists shoving cameras down their throats all day long ha!
Cutting stones and tools of all sizes.
Such interesting work, and these guys are amazing at it!
After the tour we took our time admiring all of the beautiful masterpieces in the showroom!
After the factory tour, we headed down the street to another beautiful church, Christ Church Cathedral. This is the church where Strongbow and Aoife were married, marking the end of the Viking age and beginning of English involvement in Ireland.
Again beautiful Waterford crystal chandeliers and one amazing stained glass window!
After seeing some more sights and soaking in the beautiful day, we couldn't resist stepping in a little sweet shop before heading back to the bus...
And found some fancy girly chocolate to take home :)
The ride was beautiful the whole way, enjoying sunny skies and watching cows graze.
Even when it started to rain a bit, it was still beautiful with a rainbow stretching across the sky.
Then the rain finished and a beautiful sunset finished out our lovely trip!