Coordinates: 52°46'N and 7°16’W
Weather: sunny, but very chilly
Having travelled overnight from the Scilly Islands, we all became aware that the motion of the ship changed subtly as we entered the mouth of the River Suir and that brought a number of people (myself included) up to the Observation Lounge to watch a new day emerging. We had a magical early-morning, fifteen mile journey up the river, seeing the occasional mute swan but almost no people. It was also extremely cold.
There was a bit of a scramble for the scrambled eggs this morning because we were leaving at 0830. I think some of the guests enjoyed just being able to walk off the ship, rather than use the Zodiacs and so three coach-loads set off for Waterford. It turned out to be good that we had made a slightly earlier start because the streets were more or less empty, so we could enjoy the architecture of both Protestant and Catholic cathedrals without being run over. It must be said that the Protestants had much more comfortable pews with deep cushions, probably needed for the longer sermons.
The main focus of the trip was the Granary – a museum detailing the history of the town from Vikings to the twentieth century. They had the most wonderful manuscripts of a very unusual nature and also a video of a Viking ship during which the benches we sat on rocked as though we were at sea, so that catered for all levels of interest. We split into groups and had a guided tour of the museum – the group I was with was mainly fascinated by whether or not the young and inexperienced guide would actually expire from nerves. Other groups fared rather better and one even had the Director of the museum himself who was reported to be brilliant. As ever, some guests decided that too much information made their knees buckle and disappeared to the café where we picked them up later.
We came back to the ship for lunch and then another group went to Mount Congreve, which is about an hour’s drive from Waterford. This is another garden, but a marked contrast from the one at Tresco. Mount Congreve is privately owned and not open every day, so the guests were delighted to be able to visit. It’s about eighty acres and has a much more family-run feel to it. It doesn’t have a tea-room, but not everyone on board is as tea-centric as I am. That said, the gardens are beautiful and well worth the trip.
In the evening I gave a lecture on early Christianity (The Second or Third Coming?) which (I hope) was more fun than it sounds. It was tremendous (for me) to be able to deliver it actually on the way to Iona, which is central to the story. I finished in the nick of time because there was an Irish Pub Night at the cocktail hour – Guinness and brilliant fish and chips in little cones.