In a stylishly renovated granary behind the tourist office on Merchants Quay lies one of Ireland’s most entrancing museums, Waterford Treasures. Impressively designed and employing a diverse range of display techniques, the museum brings the city’s history into focus, often with a telling sense of humour. The collection is organized chronologically and begins with the third-floor Viking galleries. These exhibit an extraordinary array of artefacts from the tenth to twelfth centuries, including a meticulously carved bird-bone flute, a gaming board and pieces, intricate jewellery and a perfectly rounded alder hanap, or drinking goblet. The Anglo-Norman era is also well represented, with a finely worked gold stirrup-ring set with a sapphire, illuminated charters, an entire medieval bow – the only surviving example in Ireland or Britain – and the Edward IV sword, a mighty piece of silver weaponry presented to the Mayor of Waterford in 1462.
The second-floor galleries include a superb collection of royal charters from Tudor and Stuart times before moving on to Georgian Waterford; here the Monstrance Throne made for a local dignitary in 1729 features dazzling silverwork, resembling a small fireplace topped by a huge crown. Displays also trace the career of the architect John Roberts, designer of many of the city’s finest Georgian buildings, who is now honoured with an architecture festival in Waterford in April (http://www.wfa.ie/). The last section on this floor vividly focuses on Waterford’s strong links through emigration with Newfoundland in Canada, while the first floor hosts interesting history and art exhibitions.