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Worldcon 3: Waterford, Actually

Saturday, August 10, 2019 - 11:19

I’ve given up on the idea that I can plan where to eat breakfast. The lovely place I ate on Friday opens much later on weekends. The recommended bakery has yet to be open any time I drop by, despite it being within advertised hours. So my strategy will simply be to wander until I see a likely looking place that’s open.

I took the train that got me in to Waterford around noon, with the last return train leaving at 18:30. That was plenty of time to see the things I wanted to see, plus time to sit at the river’s edge with a sandwich when I didn’t want to walk any more.

I went to three museums: the Viking museum in Reginald’s Tower, the medieval museum, and the Bishop’s Palace museum which was primarily Georgian and later material, including a focus on the crystal industry. 

Overall the displays include a wealth of surviving legal documents illustrating historic themes (including a medieval legal compilation that includes a large number of illustrated figures I’ve never seen reproduced in works on Irish costume history). The number of other material artifacts is small, though representative. The interpretation is good. And they have a fondness for dioramas of the town at various points in history.

Overall, while they did good work at presenting Waterford, it was a little disappointing in terms of new types of material for the relevant eras. And no good finds in the museum bookstore, alas. There was a large glossy catalog covering pretty much all the significant artifacts, but see previous comment.

The most impressive experience was the guided tour of the Bishop’s Palace, presented by an in-character docent portraying a member of the Penrose family that founded the crystal factory. (The in-character story was that she was the housekeeper giving tours to visitors, a la Elizabeth Bennett’s experience at Pemberley.) The guide was excellent and the presentation helped make it more than a bare recital of catalog entries. The tour ended with a multimedia 3D video presentation on the history of the Penrose family and factory which was excellent enough to make up for my difficulty in processing 3D movies.

Also: lots of lovely countryside views on the train there and back. The trip back (in progress) is fairly empty, but on the trip down I shared a seating group with six older women going on overnight holiday who shared their chocolate bar with me and offered me a sociolinguist’s delight of conversational scripts. (They were doing that thing where any contribution is then followed by an echoing chorus of stock responses appropriate to the topic.)

I don’t have any specific plans for tomorrow and think I’ll take it easy, especially since Monday will be more touristing.

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