Every now and then in Ireland, the issue of counties acknowledging each other for what they are pops up. Dublin, being the biggest City in the republic, often has its residents stereotyped as not knowing the world outside of it (something I have come across sadly). Other counties are so bitter that they’ll do anything to be noted, constantly kicking up a stink about what they didn’t get. Counties in the West constantly have politicians campaigning for them with the poor mouth on, even though they have, in large, better infrastructure and funding than most of the rest of the country put together. Kilkenny feels so pressurised about its town status that it insists upon calling itself a city at every given opportunity even though that title of “medieval city” is only supposed to be granted for ceremonial purposes. And then there’s Waterford, the little known county residing in the Southeast of the country. The fifth largest urban area in Ireland yet rarely recognised. The city that the American tourists think was named after the crystal factory. When do you ever hear a peep from Waterford? Never is the answer. We’re a quiet bunch of folk here who like to get on with life and enjoy the wonderful countryside that nature gave us.
That was pretty much it for Waterford folk, and their nonchalant city councillors, until recently that is. One man built a website and a community of like-minded people who were no longer prepared to stand back and see Waterford ignored. People who were fed up of every other city being listed as such, people who were sick of the fact that Waterford was never referenced in simple things like weather reports, property listings, etc even though lesser populated areas were. That website is UpTheDeise.com. The most recent and disturbing event that has caused some concern to the members of this website is the latest edition of the Lonely Planet Guide to Ireland. The listing about Waterford goes as follows:
Waterford Town: “Although that seedy port-town feel is still evident in places, the city has received a facelift in recent years. Pedestrianised streets and public artworks have improved the centre, and it’s now a more attractive place to wander.” (P184)
As a citizen of Waterford and a proud Waterford person, this publication about my city incenses me on several levels. Firstly, Waterford is not a town, full stop. It is a city and any publisher of travel guides who thinks that is not important is frankly lying through their teeth. Travel guides such as The Lonely Planet series are incredibly influential to tourists and tourists want to see the cities of a country. We have enough trouble internally, in Ireland, with our sister counties giving us a hard time and ignoring us without a renowned international publication giving us a bad image. A listing such as this is probably costing Waterford untold revenue in tourism, meanwhile Kilkenny Town is listed as a city instead. On top of that anyone still interested in visiting the place despite not knowing it is a city would be put off by the “seedy port-town” reference that makes us sound like some sort of red light district. This impression of Waterford is a fallacy, borne of incredibly bad research. There are many areas of Dublin that are ten times worse than anything Waterford could muster up yet it is only Waterford that suffers this defamation. I would sincerely love to meet the person who provided that description of my city and bring them on a tour to show them just how wrong they are. If such descriptions were given about a hotel/business, it would not be tolerated. The publication would be sued for libellous descriptions of the business. Why should we ignore this as a county? We shouldn’t!! The members at UpTheDeise.com are currently seeking to have this issue resolved but more than that, to ensure that this nonsense does not keep happening and destroying our reputation or putting us out of people’s minds as a place to go. Follow the campaign on link: UpTheDeise.com
Disclosure: I am a current and active member of UpTheDeise.com but my interest in this is first and foremost to promote Waterford and rectify bad publicity and general ignorance of my city and county.