Wexford, the Cornerstone of Ireland’s Ancient East, is located on the sunny south-east coast of Ireland. A place with deep Viking roots, Wexford has no shortage of historical wonders, from medieval castles to ecclesiastical ruins. Want to find out more about Wexford’s rich history? Below is a list of our top 5 historic sites in the County Wexford.
1. Tintern Abbey
A once powerful and wealthy Cistercian foundation, Tintern Abbey was founded by the English Knight and Earl of Pembroke, Marshall William in 1200.
Setting out on his maiden voyage to Ireland his ship encountered a violent storm off the Wexford coast and was close to sinking.
He vowed that if he landed safely ashore, he would found an abbey wherever he landed. After safely reaching the shore he kept this promise and granted 3,500 hectares to the Cistercian Order to establish an abbey.
Now a restored ruin, Tintern is situated on the Western shore of Bannow Bay in the South of Wexford and is a genuinely evocative structure of monastic history. Look out for the gothic style arches and grotesque heads carved in the walls of the chancel.
Beside the abbey is a beautifully restored Georgian walled garden and some lovely woodland walks that will reinvigorate the senses. After a walk around this scenic historic site, stop by the on-site cafe for a cuppa tea and slice of cake.
Address: Saltmills, New Ross, Co. Wexford, Ireland
2. Loftus Hall
Loftus Hall, Ireland’s most haunted house, is a large abandoned mansion house set against the desolate backdrop of the Hook peninsula.
The hall was built in 1350 by the Redmond family but was later granted to the Loftus family in 1666 following the Cromwellian invasion. Legend has it the Devil himself, disguised as a charming young man, once walked this hall over 200 years ago.
Explore the halls dark past with a guided tour, designed to entertain and scare even the bravest of visitors.
During Halloween season don’t miss out on the after dark tours and a special over 18’s event led by paranormal researchers.
Ghostly encounters and strange paranormal experiences are now so commonplace at the hall that there is a paranormal activity log at reception to record visitors’ experience. Could you be the next person to record a frightening experience at Loftus Hall?
Address: Hook Head, New Ross, Co. Wexford, Ireland
3. Hook Lighthouse
A short drive from Loftus Hall stands one of the oldest working lighthouses in the world, Hook Lighthouse. Located at the very tip of the windy Hook peninsula, the lighthouse was built sometime between 1210 and 1230 by William Marshall, the same Knight who founded Tintern Abbey.
The guided tour will provide you with plenty more historical information and lead you right to the top of the lighthouse. Standing at over 30 meters, here you can take in the stunning views of the Hook peninsula.
On a clear day, you might even spot dolphins and seals out at sea. After descending back down the 115 steps, why not stop by the visitors’ centre which houses a cafe and gift shop.
Address: Churchtown, Hook Head, Co. Wexford, Ireland
4. The Irish National Heritage Park
Take a spectacular journey back in time at the Irish National Heritage Park located just outside Wexford town. The park is a vast 35-acre open-air museum which looks back at over 9,000 years of Ireland’s cultural history.
Make sure to take a guided tour of the park to see various authentically reconstructed features of Ireland’s history, from ringforts to crannogs.
A great place for a family day out, the Irish National Heritage Park hosts many activities for both children and adults such as archery, spear throwing, and Viking shield making. This cornerstone of Ireland’s ancient past will be sure to captivate, educate and inspire all who visit.
Address: Ferrycarrig, Co. Wexford, Ireland
5. Ferns Castle
Located in the historic village of Ferns in North Wexford, Ferns Castle is a must-see for anyone interested in early Irish history. Initially, the castle formed a square with four large corner towers, though today only two of the towers remain.
The most complete tower contains a wonderfully preserved circular chapel on the ground floor. Just above, a narrow winding staircase will lead you to the top of the tower which gives magnificent views of the surrounding countryside.
A tour of this castle is free of charge and make sure to see the famous Ferns Tapestry which depicts the history of Ferns, from the arrival of St. Aidan in 598AD to the landing of the Normans.
Also known as the ancient capital of Leinster, Ferns is home to some other historical sites such as the remains of an Augustinian abbey and a beautifully restored 18th Century cottage, making it a perfect place to connect with Ireland’s rich history.
Address: The Square, Ferns, Co. Wexford, Y21 D892.