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County Wexford occupies a total area of approximately 914 square miles in the province of Leinster. Bordering the eastern and southern divisions of the County Wexford is the Irish Sea, as the north and west are encompassed by counties Carlow, Wicklow, and Kilkenny.[1] The majority of County Wexford’s topography is comprised of lowlands and farmlands; however, the Blackstairs Mountains rise in height to about 2,602 feet at its highest peak. In addition to this mountain range, a fair amount of hills also constitute much of the land, many of which reach heights over 1,000 feet.[3] The coastal perimeters are characteristic of several beaches, one of the most frequently visited being Curracloe Strand.[4] Other touristic sites include Enniscorthy Castle, the Hook Lighthouse, and the Kennedy Homestead, to name a few. For those who take an interest in outdoor activities, the Wexford Garden Trail allows tourists the opportunity to explore a portion of County Wexford’s natural areas, as well as learn about the native plants of the temperate region.[7] Moreover, the Saltee Islands is home to a diverse range of bird species, such as puffins, gannets, and gulls.[5]

What Wexford is known for

Located in the Southern Region of Ireland, County Wexford resides in the province of Leinster.[1] The county's name derives from the town of Wexford, one of the largest towns in the county. In the Old Norse language, Wexford, or "Waesfjord," translates to "inlet (fjord) of the mud flats." Initially, the town was so named by the Vikings.[2] A few of County Wexford's largest towns are namely Enniscorthy, Wexford, Gorey, and New Ross. With regard to employment, the primary occupation for residents of the county is the agriculture industry.[3]

One of the most notable features of County Wexford is the beaches. Curracloe Strand, in particular, is relatively popular among tourists, especially considering the fact that the beach served as a setting for two different films. Together with Ballinesker Beach, Curracloe Strand was used in 1997 for the filming of the D-Day sequence in a movie called Saving Private Ryan. Moreover, the movie known as Brooklyn additionally features Curracloe Strand in an Irish beach scene.[4]

Many people have been found to be drawn to the Wexford Garden Trail, an outdoor attraction that intends to emphasize the county's landscape. As some of the site's gardens were laid out in the 18th and 19th centuries, the attraction bears historical significance. The gardens are divided into two categories, one of which is known as the "larger public gardens," while the other is the "smaller public gardens." Many of the smaller public gardens grow a range of plants that are native to the temperate region.[7]

Aside from nature-based sites, County Wexford is also home to the Enniscorthy Castle, which is located in the central area of Enniscorthy Castle. The establishment dates back to the 13th century, and throughout the duration of its existence, the site has been inhabited by Norman knights, English armies, local merchant families, and Irish prisoners. Enniscorthy Castle's dungeon is decorated with medieval wall art to reflect the historical time periods from which the site originated. Visitors can access the roof of the castle, where views of the countryside, Vinegar Hill, and the town of Enniscorthy can be seen.[8]

Another attraction that is established in County Wexford is the Hook Lighthouse on the Hook Head Peninsula. This lighthouse is "claimed to be" the oldest still-operational lighthouse in the world. Presumably built sometime between 1210 and 1230, the monument was constructed by William Marshall, and the lighthouse currently reaches a height of about 82 feet. Throughout its earlier history, the Hook Lighthouse had been maintained by the monks of St. Saviour's of Rinndeuan for many years.[9]

In honor of John F. Kennedy, one of the United States former presidents, County Wexford preserves his legacy at a notable site known as the Kennedy Homestead. The establishment is known for being the birthplace of John F. Kennedy's great-grandfather, Patrick Kennedy. In the words of the homestead's official website, the attraction is a museum dedicated to those of the Kennedy family who "went away and who stayed behind." [10]


To the east and south of County Wexford, the Irish Sea borders the land, while counties Carlow, Wicklow, and Kilkenny encompass the north and west. The lowlands rise at the Blackstairs Mountains, characteristic of two of the following peaks: Blackstairs Mountain and Mount Leinster. Blackstairs Mountain reaches a height of 2,402 feet, while Mount Leinster ascends to a greater height of 2,602 feet. Several hills that rise over 1,000 feet tall constitute the geographical form of County Wexford as well. Concerning the coastal edges of the county, namely bays, rocky headlands, cliffs, and sand dunes compose these areas.[3]

A considerable portion of County Wexford’s topography is comprised of farmland. On average, farms generally cover an expanse of around 70 to 80 acres, which some may consider to be “medium size.” Cereal crops are grown on nearly two-fifths of the farmlands, with half of the area producing wheat. Another crop that is relatively common throughout the cultivated land is sugar beets.[3]

The Saltee Islands, established on approximately five kilometers of land, is home to a wide range of birds. The attraction is located off the coast of Kilmore Quay and most commonly appeals to birdwatchers or those who are on a day trip. Puffins, Manx shearwaters, gannets, and gulls are a few typical bird species that tourists may spot at the Saltee Islands. In addition to serving as a migratory route for spring and autumn migrants, the site also has a considerable population of grey seals.[5]

A marine, west coast, warm-summer climate affects County Wexford, as the land is situated at an elevation of 109.48 feet above sea level. On average, County Wexford typically receives 2.29 inches of precipitation over the course of about 148.25 rainy days annually. The wettest month of the year tends to be November, with an average of 3.37 inches of precipitation. July, which is frequently the warmest month of the year, has an average temperature of 63.39 degrees Fahrenheit, while the coldest month, February, has an average of 40.55 degrees Fahrenheit.[6]


The first records of Viking history date back to circa 819 CE when the raid of the island Begerin took place at Wexford harbor. Formerly a site of Ibar’s island monastery, the location was reclaimed in the mid-9th century. The number of raids increased in Wexford throughout the 9th century as many occurred at various other sites such as Taghmon and Ferns. The growth of the Viking population within the county is presumably the reason for the development of several raids. Old Irish texts refer to one of the first permanent Viking settlements that was based in 888 CE at the time when the Irish defeated the Norse of Wexford and Waterford.[11]

During the 1798 rebellion, County Wexford was at the forefront of some of the heaviest tension, including notable battles at Enniscorthy and New Ross. The Irish Rebellion of 1798 occurred in the year of which the name implies, and the countryside areas that surround Ferns and Camolin were primarily involved in the initial outbreak. A fair amount of incidents took place, many of which were fires that were set on nearby hills. In the same year, the rebels defeated a British force during their travels to reinforce the garrison at the town of Wexford; after that, nearly the entire town belonged to the rebels. Many other battles took place, with the final one being the Battle of Ballygullen, when the surviving rebels marched towards Ulster and Munster, intending to spread their rebellion. Under the direction of James Duff, the army persistently fought the rebels until the battle’s closure.[2]

Despite the damage these wars have caused, a few historical sites still stand today. Tintern Abbey is one such site that receives a considerable number of visitors annually. The establishment is a Cistercian monastery that was founded by William Marshal in 1200.[12] William Marshal is most famously known for being “the best knight that ever lived,” a title that first spread to the general public from Stephen Langton.[13] Tintern Abbey was given to the Colclough family in the 16th century, who occupied the property until the mid-20th century. In today’s time, visitors can tour the encompassing grounds and view Irish architecture.[12]