Wexford is where you step into a world where the past and present dance together in perfect harmony. Picture this: ancient lighthouses standing guard over rugged coastlines, and gardens that are a riot of colors and scents. Here, every street corner, every ruin, has a story to tell – and I’m all about diving into those stories.
The real charm of Wexford lies in its raw, natural beauty. Think breathtaking coastal walks, hidden beaches, and picturesque villages that are a photographer’s dream. But it’s not just about the views.
Explore Wexford’s Unique Attractions
- Hook Lighthouse: Journey just 40 minutes from Wexford town to witness one of the world’s oldest operational lighthouses, standing tall for nearly 850 years.
- Wexford’s Beautiful Gardens: Immerse yourself in the tranquility of Wexford’s lush gardens, a true delight for nature enthusiasts.
- Irish National Heritage Park: Step back in time at this park, which vividly narrates the story of Ireland’s past, including the 1798 Rebellion and the Great Irish Famine.
- Johnstown Castle Estate and Museum: Explore the grandeur of this estate, offering a glimpse into Ireland’s aristocratic history.
- Saltee Islands: A short ferry ride from Kilmore Quay, these islands are a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, especially for spotting beautiful puffins.
Things to do in Wexford
- Selskar Abbey Guided Tours: Discover the 13th-century Selskar Abbey, a key historical site in Wexford, through engaging guided tours.
- Alpaca Trekking: For a unique experience, join an alpaca trek through the scenic Wexford countryside.
- Medieval Ferns Experience: Engage with Wexford’s medieval past through interactive media, including virtual reality, at this fascinating attraction.
- Ferns Castle: Visit the ancient castle once the political base of Diarmait Mac Murchada, king of Leinster.
- National Opera House: Experience the cultural heart of Wexford with performances in this stunning venue.
- The Presentation Arts Centre: This multi-use art gallery and historic theatre is a hub for creative expression in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford.
- Storytelling Houses of Wexford: Discover the rich oral tradition of Ireland through the storytelling sessions held across Wexford.
- Tulach a’tSolais Monument: Visit this historical monument that commemorates the United Irishmen’s uprising of 1798.
The History of Wexford
1. Early and Medieval History:
- Viking Influence: Wexford’s history dates back to the Viking era, around 819 AD, when the county witnessed Viking raids and the establishment of a Viking settlement in Wexford town. The Vikings named the town ‘Waesfjord’, meaning ‘inlet of the mud-flats’ in Old Norse. This era was marked by plunder and establishment, as seen in the Norse names like Saltee Islands and Selskar scattered across the county.
- Norman Conquest: The Norman invasion of 1169, instigated by Diarmuid Mac Murrough, King of Leinster, marked a significant turning point. This invasion, starting near Bannow and subsequently spreading, led to the colonization of Ireland by the Anglo-Normans. Diarmuid’s regained kingdom passed to his son-in-law, Strongbow (Richard de Clare), following Irish feudal traditions.
2. 17th to 19th Century:
- Plantation and Rebellion: In the early 17th century, Wexford experienced the plantation of English settlers. The county was profoundly affected by the 1641 Rebellion, leading to Oliver Cromwell’s notorious campaign in 1649, which included the sacking of Wexford town and significant civilian casualties.
- 19th Century Progress: The 19th century brought technological and social progress to Wexford. It saw the county engage in the Tithe War (1831–36) and endure the impacts of the Great Famine, although Wexford was less severely affected compared to other areas of Ireland.
3. 20th Century and Beyond:
- Irish War of Independence: During the Irish War of Independence (1919–1921), Wexford was a site of numerous skirmishes and attacks, notably on Royal Irish Constabulary Barracks. The conflict was marked by guerrilla warfare, with Wexford playing its part in the struggle for an independent Irish state.
- World War II and Modern Developments: Despite Ireland’s neutrality in World War II, Wexford was not untouched by the conflict. Notably, the German Luftwaffe bombed Campile in 1940. The post-war era saw significant developments, including the electrification of rural areas in the 1950s and the visit of U.S. President John F. Kennedy to his ancestral home in Wexford in 1963.
From Viking raids to the struggle for Irish independence, each period has left an indelible mark.
Events and Festivals
- Wexford Festival Opera (18 Oct – 2 Nov 2024): This internationally acclaimed festival features a mix of classic operas and hidden gems. For 2024, the festival is scheduled from October 18th to November 2nd. Ticket prices and booking details are typically released closer to the event date, so it’s recommended to keep an eye on the official website for the latest information.
- Rockin’ Food & Fruit Festival (August Bank Holiday Weekend 2024): Taking place in Enniscorthy, this festival is a perfect blend of delicious food, great music, and family fun. While specific dates for 2024 are yet to be announced, it traditionally occurs during the August Bank Holiday weekend. For ticket prices and further details, stay tuned to the festival’s website, as more information will be available closer to the event.
- Wexford Fringe Festival (October/November 2024): Coinciding with the Wexford Festival Opera, the Fringe Festival offers a variety of entertainment and cultural events. Specific dates and ticket prices are typically announced closer to the event.
- Wexford Spiegeltent Festival (October/November 2024): This festival takes place on the Wexford Town quayside, hosting an array of music, comedy, opera, theatre, film, and kids’ shows in a giant Victorian circus-style tent. Details on ticket prices will be available as the event approaches.
By road, it’s easily accessible from Dublin via the M11 motorway, making it a great road trip destination for those based in the capital. For people coming from further afield:
Useful Transport Links
|Bus – Wexford Bus||www.wexfordbus.com|
|Bus – Bus Éireann||www.buseireann.ie|
|Bus – Ardcavan Bus Company||www.ardcavan.com|
|Train – Irish Rail||www.irishrail.ie|
|Air – Dublin Airport||www.dublinairport.com|
|Air – Waterford Airport||www.flywaterford.com|
|Air – Cork Airport||www.corkairport.com|
|Air – Shannon Airport||www.shannonairport.ie|
|Sea – Irish Ferries||www.irishferries.com|
|Sea – Stena Line||www.stenaline.co.uk|
1. By Bus:
- Wexford Bus: This service offers 16 daily trips to and from Dublin, including the city center and airport. It also runs regular services to and from Waterford, with stops in Enniscorthy, Ferns, Gorey, and New Ross. The Wexford Bus is known for its comfort and affordability. For detailed information on bus stops, route numbers, and timetables, visit Wexford Bus.
- Bus Éireann: Ireland’s national bus service provides daily connections to and from Dublin city and the airport. From Wexford, you can also travel to Waterford and Kerry. For more details, check Bus Éireann.
- Ardcavan Bus Company: This service departs from O’Connell Street, Dublin, and goes directly to Wellingtonbridge, near Bannow Bay. They also offer return services to Dublin Airport. For more information, visit Ardcavan.
2. By Train:
- Irish Rail: Wexford County is served by five train stations: Gorey, Enniscorthy, Wexford Town, Rosslare Harbour, and Rosslare Europort. If traveling from Dublin Airport, a connecting coach service takes you to Connolly Train Station in Dublin, from where you can board a train to Wexford. Visit Irish Rail for more details on stops and timetables.
3. By Air:
- Airports: The nearest airports are Dublin, Waterford, Cork, and Shannon. Each offers a range of international and domestic flights, with car hire and taxi services available for onward travel to Wexford.
- Dublin Airport is the primary gateway to Ireland and offers various transportation options to Wexford (Dublin Airport).
- Waterford Airport offers flights from the UK and is the closest airport to Wexford (Waterford Airport).
- Cork and Shannon Airports also provide connectivity and are within a few hours’ drive from Wexford (Cork Airport, Shannon Airport).
4. By Sea: