The appealing seaside village of Ardmore may look unassuming these days, but it was once one of the most important Christian settlements in Ireland. St Declan is thought to have introduced Christianity to southeast Ireland in the 5th century, well before St Patrick arrived, establishing his monastery on the hill above the harbour.
Some 19km southeast of Waterford, Dunmore East (Dún Mór) is strung out above a coastline of red sandstone cliffs scalloped with concealed coves full of screaming kittiwakes. There are two parts, separated by the town park – the Upper Village is poised above the fishing harbour to the south, while the Lower Village clusters in a hollow behind Lawlors Strand to the north.
Northern County Waterford
Some of the most scenic parts of County Waterford are in the north around Ballymacarbry. The Nire Valley Drive (signposted from Ballymacarbry) leads deep into the Comeragh and Monavullagh Mountains; the last few miles of narrow, twisting road end at a car park where there are several waymarked walks into the hills (see www.walkingwaterford.com).
Just 15 minutes' drive from Dungarvan, the Ring Peninsula (An Rinn, meaning 'the headland') is one of Ireland's best-known Gaeltacht (Irish speaking) areas. En route, views across Dungarvan Bay to the Monavullagh Mountains and the cliffs of the Copper Coast drift away to the northeast.
Lord and Lady Waterford dwell at the 1000-hectare Curraghmore Estate, which has belonged to the family since the 12th century. Located 14km northwest of Waterford, its lavish gardens incorporate the whimsical shell house built by Catherine Countess of Tyrone in 1754, who arranged for sea captains docking at Wexford's port to bring her seashells from distant shores.
Southeast County Waterford
This hidden corner of the county makes an easy day trip from Waterford city, its winding back roads best explored by bike. Less than 14km east of Waterford is the estuary village of Passage East, from where car ferries shuttle back and forth to Ballyhack in County Wexford. It's a pretty little fishing village with cottages set around a square near the harbour.