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Stepping into historyin Ireland's oldest civic building

Stepping into history in Ireland's oldest civic building

Built into the wall of the tower, the steps of the staircase were deliberately designed to be of different heights and widths, making them difficult for attackers to climb. Steps like this are known as stumble steps.

The spiral staircase was orientated to the right, making it impossible for right-handed attackers to swing their swords properly as they climbed up.

Did you know?

The spiral staircase consists of fifty-six steps.

Reginald’s Tower has been in continuous use since it was first built.

Ireland's oldest civic building

For over 1,000 years Reginald’s Tower has stood at the very centre of the history of Waterford, Ireland’s oldest city. The tower occupies the site of the earliest fort which was built by the Vikings, led by Reginald when they first settled here and founded the city of Waterford in 914. The fort was built to guard the entrance to their harbour, the tidal marsh where St John’s River flowed into the Suir in the area of the present-day Mall. First mentioned in records as early as 1088, it is the oldest civic urban building in this country and has played a pivotal role in the monumental events which shaped Irish history. 

Defending the city

This tower  was not always a solitary tower standing proud on the city's quays. For all of the Middle Ages it was the largest of some seventeen stone-built towers on a circuit of stone walls that encircled the city protecting it from attack.

The ground and first floor date to King John’s time. John Visited Waterford twice, in 1185 as a young prince and again as king in 1210. The walls on the ground floor are almost 4 metres thick which was typical of towers of the period. The floors are of wood and the staircase was built into the thick walls, giving access to the upper floor.


The top two floors were added in the late 15th century to accommodate small cannon which were then coming into use. The spiral staircase continues up through this later 15th century wall to access the top two floors.