The popular view of Wexford is beaches, sunshine and opera. The longest continuous beach in all Ireland runs along the county's east coast, an astonishing 27 kilometres from Cahore Point south to Raven Point, which marks the northern side of the entrance to Wexford town's shallow harbour. As for sunshine, while areas further north along the east coast may record marginally less rainfall, in the very maritime climate of the "Sunny Southeast" around Wexford, the clouds seem to clear more quickly, so the chances of seeing the elusive orb are much improved.
And opera.....? Well, the annual Wexford Opera Festival is a byword for entertaining eccentricity - as international enthusiasts put it, "we go to Wexford town to enjoy operas written by people we've never heard of, and we have ourselves a thoroughly good time."
But there's much more to this intriguing county than sun, sand and singing. Wexford itself is but one of three substantial towns in it, the other two being the market town of Enniscorthy, and the river port of New Ross. While much of the county is relatively low-lying, to the northwest it rises towards the handsome Blackstairs Mountains. There, the 793m peak of Mount Leinster may be just over the boundary in Carlow, but one of the most attractive little hill towns in all Ireland, Bunclody, is most definitely in Wexford.
In the north of the county, Gorey is a pleasant and prosperous place, while connoisseurs of coastlines will find the entire south coast of Wexford a fascinating area of living history, shellfish-filled shallow estuaries, and an excellent little harbour at the much-thatched village of Kilmore Quay inside the Saltee Islands.
Round the corner beyond the intriguing Hook Head, the peninsula marked by Ireland's oldest lighthouse, Wexford County faces west across its own shoreline along the beauties of Waterford estuary. Here, there's another fine beach, at Duncannon, while nearby other sheltered little ports of west Wexford - Arthurstown and Ballyhack - move at their own sweet and gentle pace.
In New Ross, the authentic re-creation of a 19th Century emigrant ship - the impressive Dunbrody - is proving to be a very effective focal point for the revival of the picturesque waterfront. It’s a fitting place for the lovely River Barrow to meet ships in from sea in an area with strong historical links to President John F Kennedy – his great-grandparents sailed from New Ross to America on the original Dunbrody.
Local Attractions and Information
Ballygarrett Shrule Deer Farm +353 (0)55 27277
Ballyhack Ballyhack Castle
+353 (0)51 389468
Campile Kilmokea Gardens
+353 (0)51 388109
Dunbrody Abbey & Visitor Centre
+353 (0)51 388603
Duncannon Duncannon Fort +353 (0)51 388603
Enniscorthy National 1798 Visitor Centre
+353 (0)54 37596
Enniscorthy Tourism Information +353 (0)54 34699
Enniscorthy Wexford County Museum +353 (0)54 46506
Ferrycarrig National Heritage Park
+353 (0)53 20733
Gorey(Coolgreany) Ram House Gardens +353 (0)402 37238
Hook Head Hook Head Lighthouse
+353 (0)51 397055
Johnstown Castle Demesne & Agricultural Museum +353 (0)53 42888
Kilmore Quay Saltee Island Ferries +353 (0)53 29684
New Ross Dunbrody - re-creation of 19th C ship +353 (0)51 425239
New Ross Galley River Cruises
+353 (0)51 421723
New Ross John F Kennedy Arboretum
+353 (0)51 388171
New Ross John F Kennedy Homestead
, Dunganstown +353 (0)51 388264
New Ross Tourism Information +353 (0)51 421857
Rosslare Ferry Terminal +353 (0)53 33622
(nr Saltmills) +353 (0)51 562650
Wexford North Slobs Wildfowl Reserve
+353 (0)53 23129
Wexford Opera Festival
(October) +353 (0)53 22144
Wexford Tourism Information +353 (0)53 23111