10 Good Reasons to Take a Trip to Wexford
Affectionately known as ‘Wonderful Wexford’, this south-east county in the province of Leinster is home to some of Ireland’s most beautiful landscape and Wexford town at the mouth of the River Slaney. Famed for its medieval landmarks and sunny climate, Wexford is said to get more hours of sunshine daily than the rest of the country. County Wexford also offers many great attractions and below we have listed 10 great reasons to visit the area.
1 Hook Lighthouse
Hook Lighthouse, the world’s ‘flashiest’ lighthouse as awarded by Lonely Planet, is top of our must-see list for County Wexford. With iconic black and white stripes, the building on the tip of Hook Peninsula has watched over the cliffs here for over 800 years. Visitors can take a guided tour up the 115 steps to the top of the tower in the world’s oldest operational lighthouse which was originally established by the monks of St Saviour’s of Rinndeuan who began the practice of lighting a warning beacon here until in later years a lighthouse was constructed by William Marshall.
Named as one of our Ultimate Irish Bucket List locations, take a look at our other must-see sights to get ticked off your list.
2 Saltee Islands
The Prince of Saltee Islands, Michael Neale the 2nd, privately owns these picturesque islands said to be between 600 and 2,000 million years old. Consisting of the Great and Little Saltee, visitors to the island are permitted between 11:30 and 16:30 daily and day trippers can explore the most famous bird sanctuary in Ireland, with seabirds, gannets, gulls, puffins and Manx shearwaters in abundance.
3 Dunbrody Famine Ship
A premier tourist attraction in the New Ross quayside is the Dunbrody Famine Ship where visitors can set sail and imagine what immigrant life was like on this reproduction of an 1840s vessel. This attraction gives visitors a close look at Ireland’s famine emigrant experience through guided tours, exhibitions and costumes. At the Dunbrody Visitor Centre, you can explore the Irish America Hall of Fame commemorating the contribution of Irish men and women to US history.
4 Wexford’s Royal Castles
With over 10 castles to explore throughout the county, Wexford is a must-visit location for keen historians. The earliest landmark in County Wexford is Dunbrody Abbey, founded in 1170 with more modern castles such as Johnstown Castle and Fern Castle, the latter being an Anglo-Norman Fortress built in the 13th Century. Ferns was historically recognised as the ancient capital of Ireland and the nearby Ferns Abbey is the resting place of Irish King Dermot MacMurrough, who features on our Kings and Queens of Ireland website.
5 Wexford’s Plush Beaches
Along the R742 you can find some of the most stunning sandy strands in all of Ireland. Wexford’s waters offer a welcome retreat from busy schedules and visitors to County Wexford can take a stroll along the many blue-flag beaches: Curracloe, Ballinesker, Morriscastle and Courtown, amongst many others. Ballinesker Beach is famed as the location where the opening scenes from Stephen Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan movie were filmed. Check out other Irish locations made famous in movies from our recent write up.
6 JFK’s Homestead
In the quiet town of Dunganstown, you can find the Kennedy Homestead where John F Kennedy returned in 1963 for a cup of tea. His grandfather Patrick Kennedy was born here and would have boarded an Irish emigrant ship like that of the Dunbrody to live the American dream.
7 Wexford Opera Festival
Wexford’s best-kept secret is the Wexford Opera Festival, suggested as one of the leading opera festivals in the world, taking place annually in Wexford Town. The festival attracts people from right across the world; however, throughout the year, visitors can enjoy productions in The John and Aileen O’Reilly Theatre and the Jerome Hynes Theatre. Wexford Fringe Festival runs parallel to the festival and gives visitors over 300 events to choose from including cabaret, comedy, dance, film and the visual arts.
8 National Heritage Park
Wexford is steeped in history and heritage, much of which can be explored in Ferrycarrig where the National Heritage Park takes in 35 acres of ancient storytelling. Bringing visitors through 9,000 years of important events that shaped Ireland’s history, a trail around the park explores settlements from different periods in time with prehistoric campsites, Viking houses, ring forts and burned mounds.
9 Wexford Wildfowl Reserve
Birdwatching is a popular past time in County Wexford with the previously mentioned Saltee Islands providing a nesting ground for a wide variety of birds throughout the year. Wexford Harbour is another top birdwatching spot, with waders and wildfowl attracted to the flat landscapes of the area. From October to April you can find ducks, geese and swans and why not join a guided tour each weekday at 15:00 to explore the visitor’s centre, hides and observation tower?
10 Wells House and Gardens
An ideal family day out, Wells House and Gardens have something for all generations especially the kids. The Lady Frances Woodland Walk where you can search for hidden treasures behind the discreetly hidden fairy doors. On the grounds of Wells House, you can also explore the Victoria Terrace Gardens, restored from Daniel Robertson’s 1830s plans and experience real life in a Victorian House with a tour through the well-preserved rooms. Older children and teenagers can learn the skills of archery from the resident Archer following a morning of geocaching to seek out the hidden treasure of ‘cache’ hidden on the grounds of Well House and Gardens.
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