Daily Archives: October 17, 2010

A Tour of Ireland ~ Episode 6

County Wexford

Moving South from County Wicklow we reach County Wexford, sometimes known as the sunshine coast or as the ‘Maritime Centre of Ireland.’   It offers coastal villages, sunny seashores, national heritage attractions, and gardens including the very famous John F. Kennedy Park and Arboretum. This is a plant collection of international standing with 4,500 types of trees and shrubs from all temperate regions of the world. It covers 252 hectares on the southern slopes of Slieve Coillte and includes 200 forest plots and a visitor centre.

Moving inland is Enniscorthy, an old Norman settlement situated on the banks of the River Slaney overlooked by the old 1798 battle site of Vinegar Hill. On the west bank of the river stands the Gothic church of Saint Aidans.  Enniscorthy is the Cathedral town of the county. Designed by Pugin in 1847, Saint Aidans tall spire, fine doorway and exquisite east window are recommended viewing. Dominating the town is the Norman Castle which was completed in 1205 and now houses the County Wexford Folk Museum. Just down the road by car there are ancient Dolmens and Bronze Age remains. Enniscorthy and its environs has a well developed crafts industry most particularly in pottery.

County Wexford was the centre of the 1798 rebellion against English rule.  The National 1798 Centre is located just off the N30 and N11 in the shadow of Vinegar Hill, beside the picturesque river Slaney and just 500 meters from the thriving market town of Enniscorthy.

Courtown (or Court Town) is situated about 4 miles south-east of Gorey, on a wide sweep of coast called Courtown Bay. Courtown’s population rises dramatically during the summer months.  The strand, extending from Ballymoney (Co. Wexford) on the north to Cahore Point in the south, is magnificent, backed by sand dunes that offer shelter and some privacy for picnicing. The bathing is very good, and the sea water is noted for its excellent qualities. The harbour piers were a part of famine relief work sponsored by the Earl of Courtown in 1847.

Ardamine and Pollshone are secluded coves with good swimming.  At Ardamine, the little church is by George Edmund Street, the designer of the London Law Courts and restorer of Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin.

Wexford the County Town is a Viking town founded in the mid-19th century on the River Slaney.  It maintains much of the old Norse layout, with tiny lanes leading down to the river.  The Bull Ring, a wide intersection at the North end of Main Street was the venue for bull baiting in medieval times.  A bronze statue of a pikeman stands in the centre symbolic of the poorly armed peasantry who defended the town in the rebellion of 1798.

Wexford Festival Opera is a very popular annual event each October.

Hook Lighthouse, one of the oldest operational lighthouses in the world was Purpose built as a lighthouse 800 years ago, and still fully operational today, Hook Lighthouse truly is one of a kind!  It marks the Entrance to Waterford Harbour at the mouth of the three sisters river system.  A Visitor centre at the Lighthouse offers guided tours of the lighthouse tower, a 13th Century Norman structure, built by the Earl of Pembroke as part of the development of his Lordship of Leinster.  The tour culminates with the spectacular view from the balcony.

Relax by the Sea and keep an eye out for seals dolphins and even whales! In clear weather you can see for miles and in a storm the spray often reaches the top of the lighthouse!
Free facilities, parking, toilets, garden picnic areas, Wifi access