Dermot mac Murrough'S TRAIL
Begin your 2-day adventure around Ireland’s south-east by exploring the country’s oldest city, Waterford, founded by the Vikings in 914. Waterford was a key location taken over by Richard de Clare (Strongbow) and Dermot mac Murrough as mac Murrough fought to take back control of Ireland with the help of Henry II.
When it comes to exploring Waterford City, make the famous Viking Triangle area your first port of call. The Viking Triangle is a nod to the Vikings that helped shaped the city and will provide you with great insight into the history of Ireland’s oldest city. Waterford Treasures is a trio of museums at the heart of the Viking Triangle – The Bishop’s Palace, Reginald’s Tower and the Medieval Museum forming it. Uncover the story of the Vikings and how they came about occupying Waterford and how they ultimately shaped the city into what it is today.
Reginald’s Tower dates back to the time of Mac Murragh (12th century) and is the only monument in Ireland that is named after a Viking. It is also located a close walk from Christchurch Cathedral in Waterford City, with both these locations rumoured to be the site of Strongbow’s marriage to Dermot’s daughter, Aoife MacMurrough. Aoife was a reward to Strongbow following his re-capture of Waterford from Rory O’Connor. Indeed, a bronze statue of Strongbow and Aoife has been erected between Bishops Palace and Christchurch Cathedral to commemorate the spot of one of Ireland’s most famous weddings.
A short walk from the trio of museums is one of Waterford’s undoubted highlights: the House of Waterford Crystal. Experience the process that is involved in making this famous crystal when journeying through the factory. You’ll also find out about the early days of Waterford Crystal and the story that has transformed it into Ireland’s most loved crystal.
If time is on your side and you’re feeling energetic, consider embarking on the 46 km Waterford Greenway Cycle Route, a cycle path running from Waterford City to Dungarvan.
Come evening, venture into Waterford City to make the most of its great restaurants and pubs. Visit our Irish Pubs pages for a list of favourite pubs in the city.
As you depart Waterford City for Wexford, some of the county’s popular coastal towns and villages – Copper Coast, Ardmore, Dungarvan and Tramore, to name a few – are well worth stopping off at.
Travelling west to Wexford you will pass through the seaside villages of Ardmore and Passage East. Passage East is thought to be the location where Strongbow entered Ireland back in 1171 as he helped Dermot MacMurrough overtake Waterford, and in the process, capture Leinster again. Take the ferry from Passage East to Ballyhack in Wexford and embark on a journey towards the ancient capital of Leinster at Ferns.
From Ballyhack head south to the Hook Head Peninsula, and Ireland’s oldest lighthouse at Hook Head. The original Hook Head Lighthouse is thought to date back to 1172, a year after Dermot MacMurrough is believed to have died in the county. The current structure is thought to be around 800 years old and a must-see when visiting Wexford.
As you depart Hook Head, make the town of Fethard your next destination, before advancing to the 13th-century Tintern Abbey. The abbey was founded by William Marshall, the Earl of Pembroke, who was married to Isabel de Clare, the daughter of Strongbow and Aoife MacMurrough.
From Tintern Abbey head north to the town of New Ross where you can find out more about the challenges faced by Irish men and women in the mid-1800s during the Great Famine. The SS Dunbrody Famine Ship tells the story of Irish emigration during this period, with an authentic boat adding to the experience.
Complete your Wexford adventure by visiting the town of Ferns, the ancient capital of Ireland. It’s here that Dermot MacMurrough waited for Strongbow to arrive in 1170. MacMurrough founded Ferns Abbey, and while most of this building lies in ruins today, it is still a hugely significant historic site in Wexford with it being the resting place of King Dermot.
Another popular building in the historic town of Ferns is the 13th-century Ferns Castle which was built by William Marshall (the same William Marshall who constructed Tintern Abbey), a descendant of the mac Murrough’s.
Should time be on your side, head south towards either Enniscorthy, Wexford or Rosslare for further highlights and an opportunity to take in all you have seen during this 2-day adventure.