WEXFORD TOWN is the county’s ancient capital. A friendly and lively town with winding streets, a pretty quayside, great shopping, and an array of pubs, cafes and fine restaurants. Wexford’s origins date back to the 2nd century. Wexford Town is within easy reach of many fine beaches, coastal drives and listed walks, and so is the ideal base from where to explore the county and region...
ATTRACTIONS in Wexford & its' SURROUNDING AREAS
West Gate Heritage Tower
This tower once guarded the western entrance to the walled town. It was built c1300 by Sir Stephen Devereux on instructions of King Henry. Like the other town gates, it consisted of a toll-taking area, cells for offenders and accommodation for guards.
National Opera House
This venue in the High Street is the headquarters of the world renowned international Wexford Festival Opera. The original theatre opened in January 1832. The impressive landmark building (Ireland’s first custom built opera house) was designed and project managed by the office of public works. It hosts a multitude of events all year round of theatre, dance, concerts and the Wexford Festival Opera yearly in October.
The Bull Ring
The Bull Ring got its present name from the medieval sport of Bull -baiting, introduced to the town by the Butchers’ guild. From 1621 until 1770, bulls were baited twice a year and their hides presented to the Mayor. During the 1798 rebellion, the Bull Ring became an open air factory, making and repairing pikes and other weapons for insurgents. The Bull Ring has been the venue of many political rallies and protests: Daniel O’Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell and Eamonn de Valera are among the many political figures who have addressed audiences in this historic square.
Dominating the Wexford skyline are the twin churches – the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Rowe Street, and the Church of the Assumption, Bride Street. These two churches built between 1851 and 1858, just years after the great Famine, are a monument to the devotion of Wexford people and the determination of Father James Roche who saw them to completion. An interesting feature at the main door of both churches is the cobble mosaic showing relevant names and dates. Although referred to as twin churches one difference is the clock on Rowe Street Church.
The Franciscans were the oldest established religious order in Wexford, having first come in c1240. Since then they have attended to the spiritual needs of the town through good times and bad. For many years, theirs was the only Catholic Church in Wexford town. Friars were among the victims of Cromwellian soldiers in 1649. The grounds of the church were the venue of huge Temperance rallies in the 1840’s. One of the features of the friary is the effigy of the young boy St Adjutor, Roman martyr “The Little Saint”. This life like character shows the wounds inflicted by the youths father. It is a much visited shrine.
Is said to be one of the oldest sites of worship in Wexford. An abbey was built on the site by Alexander Roche who upon returning from the Crusades was informed of the decision of his true love to enter a convent believing him dead. The abbey, the tower of which still stands, was the scene of synods and parliaments over the centuries. The roofless church is of much later construction.
Church of St Iberius
Located on Wexford’s busy Main Street and dating back to the 18th century. This attractive church presents many interesting features for the visitor including a number of memorial tablets of historical provenance. It was designed by Waterford’s renowned architect John Roberts and features a late-Georgian style interior, while the exterior is of the Venetian Renaissance aesthetic.
Wexford Arts Centre
The old market house building dates back to 1775 and has a brilliant Georgian ballroom and supper room. The ground floor was originally an open arched area for traders. It now provides entertainment and culture for locals and visitors.
EXPLORE Johnstown Castle estate, musEUm & Gardens
Three major attractions including the Gothic Revival Castle, open for the first time to the public with a one hour tour of the Castle. Surrounded by the spectacular 19th century Gardens and the Museum which is housed in the Castle Estate’s farm courtyard buildings. T: 053 9184671. www.johnstowncastle.ie
Escape to Wexford
With beautiful towns and villages to visit … from Gorey, Enniscorthy, New Ross and Rosslare not to mention the county town itself Wexford … this county has something unique to offer every visitor and it’s the perfect family destination. The famously long beaches are just as perfect for spring strolls when it’s sunny as they are for refreshing dips. Or if you’re eager to delve into history, don’t miss top attractions like Hook Head lighthouse, the Irish National Heritage Park, and the Dunbrody Famine Ship.
The Kennedy Homestead, Dunganstown
Allows visitors to follow the fortune of the most famous Irish American Family through the 20th century to the present day. Trace the history of those who stayed behind and those who left Dunganstown on an immigrant ship to the slums of Boston and from the English court of St James to the Camelot days at the White House. The centre features an interpretative exhibit which traces the story, from Patrick Kennedy leaving as a famine emigrant, to his great grandchildren’s and their children’s return over the years. The Centre provides an exhibition experience, incorporating audio-visuals, a photographic exhibition and a historical interpretative display.
Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience
New Ross. Tel: 051 425239 www.dunbrody.com Contact: Sean Connick – The Dunbrody Famine Ship is one of the premier tourist attractions in the South East of Ireland. Centred on an authentic reproduction of an 1840s emigrant vessel, it provides a world-class interpretation of the famine emigrant experience. Incorporating guided tour, costumed performers and themed exhibitions of the highest quality, the Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience provides a unique insight into the bravery and fortitude with which Irish people faced up to a desperate situation. In addition to the tour of the Dunbrody Famine Ship, the Dunbrody Visitor Centre houses a charming river-view cafe and the Irish-American Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame commemorates the critical contribution of Irish men and women to US history, as well as acknowledging the continuing contribution of contemporary Irish-Americans. Each year the Hall of Fame inducts new members, these include Donald Keough, Michael Flatley and Maureen O’Hara. The attraction is located in New Ross, County Wexford. Central to the South East, New Ross is conveniently close to the towns of Wexford, Kilkenny, Waterford and Enniscorthy. As such the Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience is a perfectly placed stop on any tour of Ireland’s Ancient East.
New Exhibition Installed – Visit Savannah Landing Point – Savannah Landing Point celebrates the long established trade between New Ross and Savannah Georgia, come learn about this unique connection.
The Emigrant Trail
The Emigrant Trail, New Ross – The Kennedy family legacy is an integral part of life in County Wexford. The achievements of this distinguished family are celebrated on ‘The Emigrant Trail’ featuring three key heritage sites on a 15 mile (24km) trail in the vicinity of New Ross Town in County Wexford.
Tintern Abbey, New Ross
A Cistercian Abbey, founded c. 1200 by William, the Earl Marshall, and named after Tintern in Wales. The remains consist of nave, chancel, tower, chapel and cloister. It was partly converted into living quarters after 1541 and further adapted over the centuries. It was occupied from the 16th century until the 1960s.
Irish National Heritage Park, Ferrycarrig
Is an authentic recreation of Ireland’s heritage.
Hook Lighthouse Visitor Centre, Hookhead
Climb the 115 steps to the balcony of Hook Lighthouse,in Co Wexford, described by the Lonely Planet Guide as, “the grand-daddy of all lighthouses” and enjoy sweeping views of the coastline and marine life such as seals, dolphins or even whales.
Father Murphy Centre, Ferns
This Centre, in Ferns County Wexford, is the original farmstead where Father Murphy the 1798 Insurgent Leader lived for many years.
Dunbrody Abbey Visitor Centre, Campile
Founded in 1210, is one of the finest examples of a Cistercian Monastery in Ireland. Dunbrody Abbey is in Campile County Wexford and was founded in 1210 on the instructions of Strongbow after the Norman invasion of Ireland.
The haunting beauty of the Hook Peninsula provides the backdrop for Loftus Hall.
Enniscorthy Town with Vinegar Hill as its sentinel, is one of the most historic towns in County Wexford. Visitors can discover our turbulent past by visiting the Knights and Rebels exhibition, vividly retelling the stories of the Knights of Enniscorthy Castle and the Rebels of the 1798 Rebellion.
Enniscorthy Castle & Vinegar Hill
Follow the footsteps of Anglo-Norman Knights, Gaelic Irish Kings and Elizabethan Adventures to uncover the story of Enniscorthy Castle. Exhibitions explore the development of the Castle and town from Anglo-Norman origins up until its use as a family home in the early 20th century. Unique displays include areas dedicated to the 1916 Rising in Enniscorthy, (the only town to rise outside of Dublin), as well as the work of the renowned Irish furniture designer and architect Eileen Gray.
National 1798 Centre
The award winning National 1798 Rebellion Centre in the shadow of Vinegar Hill offers a real insight into the epic and heroic tale of the Rebellion. Filled with audio – visual re-enactments and exhibitions exploring all aspects of the Rebellion, this is a must see attraction.
some things to enjoy
Wexford Town Walking Tours – Local Guides – History happened in all weathers, so will our tour! from Monday to Thursday at 11am, from 1st April-31st. October T: 086 1079497. Selskar Abbey Monday to Saturday at 3pm.
Wexford County has a variety of walks to explore: coastline paths, rolling countryside and quiet forest areas.
There are two Slí na Slainte walks in Rosslare, they begin at the village carpark on the site of an ancient killing ground. The route is truly a pathway of flora and fauna.
Wexford Cycle Routes – Looped Cycle Routes – Wexford town has three different looped cycling routes along some of the most breathtaking and spectacular coastlines, through historic sites, vibrant towns and villages. T: +353 (0)53 912 3111
Wexford Town – Sea Angling Centre – The Wexford S.A.C. was founded in 1964. It has since become one of the most successful clubs in Ireland, involving itself with organising weekly competitions for juniors and seniors, running open events and playing a major part in every angling comp. T: +353 (0)53 23351
Wexford Harbour Fishing – Wexford Harbour comprises a large body of estuarine water located between Raven Point and Rosslare Point where the Slaney and smaller Sow Rivers enter the sea. The harbour is sheltered and shallow and contains several species of fish
Wexford town is a shoppers delight… from crafts, clothes, antiques, jewellery, homewares and toys …there is something to suit everyones taste.
THE BULLRING MARKET
On Fridays and Saturdays, they have a range of local produce, crafts and much more for the visitors and locals to enjoy.
Kia Ora Mini Farm
Kia Ora Mini Farm is a family run award winning open farm in Gorey, Co. Wexford in operation since 1991 and has all of the usual farmyard animals together with some more unusual such as micropigs, parrots, llamas, emus, alpacas etc. At Kia Ora they operate a hands on farm where children can feed and hold the animals. As well as the fantastic animals they have converted a fire engine to bring children on a fun ride through the farm with sing along songs, there is a maze, milking cow, sandpits, gokart track, football pitch and the newest attraction is actual real diggers that adults and children can operate.
Secret Valley Wildlife Park
Secret Valley Wildlife Park, Enniscorthy – Fourteen acres of fun-filled adventures await you at Secret Valley Wildlife Park near Clonroche, Co Wexford. From bottle-feeding the hungry kid goats, to riding Snowball the pony, we promise you unforgettable, great value, family fun! Each day is packed with loads of fun events. If you like a challenge, you can join in our adventure hunts or go wild in our large outdoor and new indoor play areas. You can also play crazy golf throughout the day.
Wexford Beaches – Wexford is blessed with long, clean and safe beaches that few counties in Ireland can rival, combine this with Ireland’s best weather and you have a great combination. Just about the entire coast of Wexford is a series of long sandy beaches. Relative to the west coast of Ireland the waters around the Wexford coast are generally calm and safe for swimmers, while it is possible to surf off Courtown pier and on beaches such as Carnivan near Fethard on the Hook Peninsula for those of a more adventurous nature.
View Wexford’s main beaches by clicking on www.wexford.ie/wex/Departments/Environment/Beaches/
Pubs, Restaurants & Hotels
Thomas Moore Tavern – Located on Cornmarket, in the Heart of Wexford Town, the Thomas Moore Tavern is one of Wexfords oldest bars. Delicious food is served daily in the bar and bistro.
Whitford House Hotel – is a four-star Wexford hotel which combines old world charm with first class facilities. Whitford House Hotel is a unique family-run property located just 3 miles from medieval Wexford town and is renowned for luxury accommodation and fine locally sourced food.
Farmers Kitchen Hotel & Restaurant, Drinagh – The famous Farmers Kitchen restaurant in Wexford is part of the hotels identity with excellent food offered to guests. There is also the opportunity to step back in time and sample a pint of the best Irish in “Irene Scallan’s” traditional Irish pub.
Mc Donalds Drive Thru – Rosslare Road Roundabout, Drinagh Retail Park, Wexford, Tel: 053-9168010 Opening Hours: 7am-11.30pm 7 days a week.
There are numerous restaurants to choose from when in Wexford. Check out our advertising panels, you’re sure to find something to suit all tastes.
Wexford is host to many festivals and events throughout the year.... below are a list of just some coming up this year. Log onto www.discoverireland.ie for more information or call to any of the local tourist offices dotted throughout the county for more information on events in the locality.
Wexford Drama Festival – Dun Mhuire Theatre – www.wexforddramafestival.net March 2020 (Dates to be announced)
Wexford Half Marathon & 10km – www.wexfordhalfmarathon.com for more information. April 2020
Hooked on the Sea 2020 – A fun filled weekend of activities for all ages, on the stunning Hook Peninsula this May Bank Holiday Weekend. Take part in activities on and off the water, boat trips, free kids’ activities, seafood promotions & more. The Hook, Co. Wexford (Dates to be announced)
Aims Choral Festival-New Ross. (Dates to be announced) Noted for its hight competitive standards. www.aims.ie
Wexford Literary Festival-Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford. www.focalliteraryfestival.com (Dates to be announced)
Wexford Marathon-June 2020 – Westpoint, Clonard, Wexford.
Wexford Maritime Festival-June, 2020 – (Dates to be announced) www.wexfordmaritimefestival.ie
Strawberry-Culture & Food Fest 2020 – Family friendly festival with County Wexford strawberries, the Wexford Literary Festival, the Strawberry Roots Music Trail and the All-Ireland Farmers Market Food competition – all hosted by the 49th Strawberry Queen! Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford. T. +353(0)539261361 (Dates to be announced)
Irish American Fest – New Ross – July 2020 – (Dates to be announced)
Tagoat Steam & Vintage Rally Festival – Tagoat, Co. Wexford. August 2020 (Dates to be announced)
Kennedy Summer School – The Kennedy Summer School, schedule of events takes place in New Ross, Co. Wexford in www.kennedysummerschool.ie Sept. 2020 (Dates to be announced)
New Ross Piano Festival 2020 – Sept (Dates to be announced)
Wexford Festival Opera – Wexford Festival Opera, opens with a giant fireworks display in Wexford town. One of the top three opera festivals in the World, presents rarely performed and unjustly neglected operas to a world-class standard in the unique and intimate atmosphere of Wexford Town. T. +353(0)53 9122144 – 22nd October – 3rd November 2020
Wexford Fringe Festival – The Wexford Fringe will announce 17 days of fantastic Fringe events, which coincide with the 65th Wexford Festival Opera, Wexford Spiegeltent Festival and many other cultural events. Wexford Town. T. +353(0)53 9122226. October-November 2020 (Dates to be announced)