Wexford Harbour, Town & Environs

Ferrycarrig (Co. Wexford / East)

Ferrycarrig is a scenic riverside district to the west of Wexford Town.

Ferrycarrig Castle, erected by Robert FitzStephen c.1170, is thought to be one of the earliest Norman strongholds in Ireland. Excavations indicate that it was used intensively during most of the C13th.

The Irish National Heritage Park

 

The Irish National Heritage Park attempts to illustrate and provide insights into the history of Ireland over thousands of years. (Photo by interrupt75).

 

The Park displays 16 life size reconstructions of historical  living quarters and places of worship, representing the Mesolithic Period, the Neolithic Period, the Bronze Age, the Celtic/Early Christian Period and the Early Norman Period. Try to visit on a sunny day, as it is all outside!

 

The Fulacht Fia restaurant overlooking the Lake & Crannóg, is recommended for lunch (self-service).

The 85ft Round Tower on the south bank of the river is in fact a C19th monument erected by relatives and friends of County Wexford soldiers who fell in the Crimean War (1854-56). The Earl of Carlisle, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, laid the first stone in July 1858.

The Oak Tavern has a good bar and restaurant, and their Marina is open to all visitors.

Ferrycarrig is a good place to hire a boat and explore the sheltered River Slaney estuary.

Ferrycarrig is not far from Killurin on ByRoute 2.

Barntown House was the home of Edward Perceval, the Sheriff of Wexford during the 1798 Rebellion and a relative of Spencer Perceval, the British Prime Minister assassinated in the House of Commons in 1812.   The house was  replaced c.1820 by Slaney Manor, now a Guesthouse. The wooded grounds formerly contained a late C12th Norman castle, demolished in the mid-C19th and since replaced by Kinsella Castle, a modern mock-up used for wedding banquets etc.

Barntown Castle, a Tower House probably built by the Roche family, and later used as a watchtower and storehouse for Ferrycarrig Castle,  now stands in ruins in the middle of a grazing field.

St Alphonsus church (RC), “the gem of the diocese of Ferns”, was designed by AW Pugin, financed by John Hyacinth Talbot MP and inaugurated in 1848. Although much altered, the building retains its most striking features, notable a magnificent stained glass window made in Birmingham in 1848 by Hardman & Co.

Forth Mountain

 

Forth Mountain (Sliabh Fothart) is the traditional boundary between the baronies of Forth and Bargy to the south and Shemaliere and the rest of the county to the north.

 

A Cross and a Marian shrine dominate one part of the scenic ridge (Photo by Athgarvan).

 

The Three Rocks at the eastern end of the ridge played an important part during the 1798 Rebellion. A column of artillery sent from Duncannon Fort to relieve the Wexford garrison was ambushed and routed here by musket and a massed pike charge, effectively leaving Wexford Town at the mercy of the rebels; a monument commemorates the role of Col. Thomas Cloney. Later, after their defeat at Vinegar Hill, many of the insurgents regrouped at the encampment on these slopes.

 

Forth Mountain / Shemaliere Forest Park is a Coillte amenity with lovely views over five counties.

 

Forth Mountain also overlooks Taghmon on ByRoute2.

Murrintown / Murntown is the location of Ballyconnor House, a restored stone cotage available for self-catering holiday rental.

Johnstown Castle & Gardens

 

Johnstown /Rathlannon was the seat of the Esmonde family from c.1170 until their dispossession in the Cromwellian redistribution of the 1650s. In 1692 it was acquired by John Grogan, whose decendant Maurice Victor Lakin presented the property to the Irish nation in 1945.

 

Johnstown Castle was begun c.1810 for the Grogan Morgan family. It is currently used as a Teagasc environmental research and conference centre.

 

The castle grounds were laid out and planted in the 1830s by the Kilkenny architect Daniel Robertson.

 

The famous Gardens feature a wide range of native and exotic species of trees and shrubs in a beautiful setting, including several very fine redwoods, noble firs, holm oaks, copper beeches, a huge Rhododendron arboreum, and Japanese, Atlantic blue, golden Lawson and some of the oldest and largest Monterey cypresses in Ireland. There is a four-acre walled garden with an arched Devil’s Gate decorated with gargoyles, an old melon yard, and a cemetery with very fine wrought-iron gates made in Italy. The sunken Italian Garden is jealously guarded by a troupe of feeble-minded peacocks. Three lakes in the demesne provide a home for a wide range of waterfowl – mute swans, moorhens, coots, little grebes, herons and a flock of mallards – all of which help to control the waterweeds.

 

Rathlannon Castle, a ruined medieval Tower House, forms a photogenically  backdrop to the woodland garden.

 

The Irish Agricultural Museum is housed in the attractive early C19th farm buildings to the north of the lower lake. An impressive variety of old farming and horticultural implements are on display.

 

Unfortunately, the formerly excellent restaurant in the main castle appears to have closed.

Rathmacknee church is a dramatically silhoetted and atmospheric ruin. (Photo by Perweusz)

Rathmacknee Castle

 

Rathmacknee Castle is an exceptionally well-preserved C15th Tower House with fully intact parapets.

 

It was probably built by John Rosseter, Seneschal of the Liberties of Wexford, whose family had lived in this area since the late C12th. Although they recognised King Henry VIII, they remained staunch Roman Catholics, surviving several Reformation purges, but ultimately forfeited their lands in the Cromwellian confiscations of the 1650s.

 

There is a mural stair linking all five storeys, each having one apartment with closets or chambers in the thickness of the wall. The tower occupies the south-east corner of an almost complete five-sided bawn surrounded by a 23ft/7m high and 4ft/1.2m thick wall.

 

The castle remained occupied until the 1760s.