Kilmore Quay (Co. Wexford / South)
Kilmore Quay, at Forlorn Point at the eastern end of Ballyteigue Bay, is an attractive village with an avenue of thatched cottages, a fishing harbour and a marina frequented by friendly seals. It is renowned for its traditional pubs and excellent seafood.
The Guillemot Maritime Museum, a converted lightship, honours Kilmore Quay’s long lifeboating history, and has an interesting collection of model ships, paintings and maritime artefacts.
Numerous offshore wrecks make this a popular diving centre.
Boat trips leave Kilmore Quay for the Saltee Islands and the Keeraghs.
St Patrick’s Bridge is a causeway of rocks extending towards the Little Saltee Island.
Ballyhealy Beach is a safe strand where hardy locals swim year-round. There are several pleasant and well-signposted walks through the sand dunes.
Ballyhealy Castle was founded by William Chevre, who witnessed William Marshal’s 1209 deed to nearby Tintern Abbey; his descendants, the Cheevers, were one of the most powerful and important Norman families in County Wexford until the middle of the C17th (one branch was known as the Great Cheevers and Lords of Mount Leinster).
According to tradition the castle originally had four towers, three of which were destroyed under heavy bombardment by Cromwell‘s troops in 1649. The property was later acquired by the Bunbury family.
The tower standing today contains a splendid stone staircase, a “murder hole” over the entrance and a dungeon. Next to the garderobe (medieval lavatory) there is a sloping stone opening in the wall of the castle for the disposal of slops, etc.
Completely restored and refurbished in 1993, Ballyhealy is now run by German owner Herbert Kellher as a premium self-catering holiday rental Castle.
Ballyhealy House is a restored C18th seaside home, now run by former riding instructor Betty Maher Caulfield as an exceptionally attractive Guesthouse; horses are also available.
St Peter’s church (RC) was designed by George Ashlin and completed in 1875.
Ballymagyr Castle & Richfield House
Ballymagyr / Ballymagir Castle is mentioned in several sources as the first Norman residential edifice built in Ireland.
The stronghold was probably founded by Alexander de Heddon / Heddings, whose daughter Alicia married either Sir Philip Devereux or his son Hugh c.1200, and like Adamstown, the property remained one of the most important of the extensive Devereux estates for several centuries, suffering sporadic attacks by the McMurrough – / Kavanaghs.
In the early C18th the manor passed by marriage to the Loftus family, and the old castle is now represented by a C13th tower, probably erected by Stephen Devereux pere or fils, incorporated into Richfield House, a medieval edifice that was “Georgianised” in 1730 and subsequently modernised on several occasions, but retains several notable older features.
The complex is currently undergoing restoration as a residential / holiday home development.
Ballyteigue Lough (formerly aka Lough Tay unti it silted up so much as to become impassable) is separated fromfrom Ballyteigue Bay by the Burrow, an intact and actively growing sand dune system on a shingle ridge, habitat for a number of legally protected rare plant species. The Cull, a sheltered lagoon and wetland area at the head of the Lough, supports large populations of wading and other birds, adjacent to the ruins of an old Coastguard station.
Ballyteigue Castle is situated in the townland of the same name on the shore of Ballyteigue Lough.
It was erected by one of the Norman settlers, Sir Walter de Whitty, spelt variously Whythay, Whythey, Wytteyer, Whittey, Wythay, in old documents. His descendants (one of whom was summoned to the English Parliament as a baron by King Edward III) remained in possession for several centuries.
The estate was forfeited under Cromwell and passed through various hands to the Colcloughs, a branch of the family of nearby Tintern Abbey.
At the time of the 1798 Rebellion, the castle was the residence of John Henry Colclough, a leading member of the United Irishmen. He was 29 years old when the rising broke out. As soon as Bagenal Harvey heard that Lord Kingsborough‘s terms for the surrender of Wexford would not be ratified, he hastened to Ballyteigue, but Colclough and his wife and child had already fled to one of the Saltee Islands. He followed them, but the island was searched and the fugitives taken in a cave. They were conveyed to Wexford, and Harvey and Colclough were immediately tried and hanged. Colclough’s head was impaled at the town gates, and is buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Wexford.
His little daughter, an only child, inherited Ballyteigue. She afterwards married a Captain Young, and both lived in the castle until their death.
The old fortress forms part of a modern dwelling house, and the keep has always been kept roofed and in good repair.
Duncormick village was bombed by a German plane on 26th August 1940; the plane went on to bomb Campile, killing three young women.
The Bridgetown Canal, built in 1853, was in use for transporting coal and local produce until 1940, and is a pleasant place to stroll.
Carrick-on-Bannow (Co. Wexford / South)
Carrick / Carrig-on-Bannow is a pleasant little three-pub village with a strong musical tradition, and home to the Danescastle Musical Group of traditional instrumentalists.
Every July the village hosts a traditional and ethnic Music Festival of concerts, recitals and musicians’ workshops in honour of Phil Murphy, a local All Ireland mumming champion (with the Carne Mummers) and harmonica / mouth organ player who died in 1989.
The Bannow and Rathangan Agricultural Show, also held every July, is popular and enjoyable.
Cullenstown is a tiny seaside community with 12 houses, a dozen donkeys, and one pub (run by Mr and Mrs Cullen).
Castlecullen / Cullenstown Castle is known to have existed since at least 1467 (and probably much earlier). The current Tower House was built during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, and remained in the Cullen family until the Cromwellian confiscations when the property was acquired by the Boyse family. Ownership later passed to the Radfords, the Sparrows and the Burnsides. The castle has been remodelled fairly recently to incorporate a tasteless modern residence.
Cullenstown Strand has picnic tables and wonderful views of the Keeraghs and Saltee Islands.
Seashell cottage on Cullenstown Strand. (Photo by wearb)
Bannow Bay, a deep gash in the coastline, largely filled with mudflats and marshes fed by the the estuaries of the Rivers Owenduff and Corrach, is internationally recognised as a wild bird habitat, particularly good for winter observation.
Cockle Strand is a small shingle area on the edge of the bay, ideal for birdwatching. A visit at high tide is very rewarding as the birds congregate at different roosting sites. A colony of small egrets (fairly recent arrivals in Ireland) can be seen here all year round.
Bannow Island can nowadays be reached by car or on foot, as the original dividing waterway has silted up. This was the first place occupied by the Normans in 1169.
The Buried City of Bannow, aka “the Irish Herculaneum”, is the subject of much wild-eyed surmise. There is documentary evidence that the Normans founded a settlement on the island, which appears to have become a prosperous thriving town, and the constituency of Bannow sent MPs to the Irish Parliament, but its precise location is a matter of hermetic disputation. Legend has it that the shifting sands of the estuary covered the town, and some say that to so much as utter its name is to invite death by burial.
Bannow church is an interesting ruin of a fortified early C13th edifice dedicated to St Mary, originally impropriated to the monks of Canterbury. The stone tomb of a Norman lord can be found on the right of the opening to the chancel. Next to the church is a large burial vault erected in 1986 in honour of Prince Michael Neill of the Saltees.
Nearby, Our Lady’s Well has been traditionally venerated for centuries on August 15th.
Bannow House estate, residence of the Boyse family from the late C17th to 1948, retains its impressive original gates and gate lodge. A Dutch couple currently run the property as a dairy farm.
Barrytown lead and silver-mines, which existed from Viking times and supplied the Irish Mint from 1530 to 1851, are recalled only by a tall redbrick chimney in the middle of a golf course.
Wellington Bridge, spanning the mouth of the River Corrach into Bannow Bay, was built after the 1798 Rebellion as part of a road expressly intended for troops to move quickly from Wexford to Duncannon and New Ross, and named in honour of the Duke of Wellington after his 1815 victory at Waterloo.
Wellington Bridge is within easy reach of Foulkesmill on ByRoute 2.