A great way to explore Ireland and learn about its incredible history is to take walking tours, and I did exactly that. I was recently in Kinsale and Waterford with Jon Kiger, who set me up with two unique tours. Dermot Ryan was our tour guide in Kinsale, down on the southern coast of Ireland and home of the famed Old Head Golf Links. Our Waterford tour was led by Jack Burtchaell. What was nice about both tours was that all you had to do was call in advance, and they would give a location to meet.
Dermot’s tour took us through the streets of Kinsale, explaining the deep history that this city holds. Just south of the largest city in southern Ireland, Kinsale has more history than Cork. What I found interesting was that some of the streets that are present today were used as canals at one point in time. The Kinsale Museum was built in 1590’s as a trading center and eventually became a courthouse. Dermot also told me of the Kinsale Giant that stood at eight feet three inches (1760-1806).
After the tour, Jon and I had an hour to spare, and we took a boat tour out in the harbor where we saw the castle and a different view of Kinsale. The Grey Hound pub is part of that history, established in 1690, and Jon and I had an opportunity to get a pint before leaving.
Jack Burtchaell has been giving walking tours of Waterford for over 25 years. He started by explaining how Waterford (home of Waterford Crystal) is believed to have been founded in the 900s by the Vikings and taken over by the Anglo-Saxons in the 1200s. Jack pointed out many unique structures during the tour, such as the random clocks that are seen throughout the city. According to Jack, not everyone could afford a pocket watch back in the day, so clock towers were put up to help tell time.