Enniscorthy (Inis Córthaidh) is a town in County Wexford, with a population in 2018 of 19,381. Standing on the River Slaney, it's best known as the redoubt of the rebels of 1798 - their headquarters and last stand were on Vinegar Hill to the east of town.
The 18th century Society of United Irishmen watched France and the United States overthrow monarchy and colonialism; they sought to unite Catholics and Protestants to likewise free and reform Ireland. Rebellion broke out in May 1798 but soon collapsed, except in County Wexford - by the end of May the rebels held the entire county and proclaimed a revolutionary republic. Now it only remained to liberate the rest of Ireland. On 5 June 1798 they assaulted New Ross and captured it for a few hours, then were driven back with great slaughter. On 9 June they attacked Arklow but were repulsed by gunfire. They retreated to Wexford as government troops converged upon them. Their last stand was on Vinegar Hill in Enniscorthy on 21 June. Many then escaped through a gap in the surrounding forces, but thereafter they could only mount pinprick attacks. The Wexford rebels had been hunted down before their long-promised French support landed in Aug 1798 in County Mayo. It's become known as "The Year of the French" but the French incursion only lasted 12 days, sustaining light casualties, while their Irish supporters were cut down. Perhaps some 10,000 died in the course of the rebellion.
The first flight to Ireland
The first flight from Great Britain to Ireland was on 22 April 1912. Denys Corbett Wilson (1882-1915) took 100 min in a Bleriot XI from Pembrokeshire, crash-landing at Enniscorthy. (A flight of 1910 had flopped into the sea just 300 m short of the coast at Dublin.) A few days earlier, his friend Damer Leslie Allen had disappeared over the Irish Sea. The first controlled landing came on 26 April, when Vivian Hewitt flew from Holyhead to Dublin's Phoenix Park. When war broke out, Wilson joined the Royal Flying Corps and was hit by a shell on a reconnaissance flight near Lille.
Five trains a day run from Dublin Connolly, taking 2 hours 15 min via Dún Laoghaire, Bray, Wicklow Town, Rathdrum, Arklow and Gorey. They continue from Enniscorthy to Wexford, Rosslare Strand and Rosslare Europort the ferry terminal. A walk-up single from Dublin is €15, see Irish Rail for timetables and ticket deals.
The 1 railway station is 200 m north of the river bridge.
By bus there's competition on the route from Dublin. Expressway Bus 2 / X2 runs hourly from Dublin Airport and Busáras via Arklow and Gorey, taking 2 hours 30 min to Enniscorthy (adult single €17), and continuing to Wexford. Wexford Bus 740 also runs hourly from the airport, with several stops in central Dublin (but it doesn't use Busáras), Arklow bypass, Gorey and Enniscorthy, continuing to Wexford; similar times and fares.
Wexford Bus 376 runs twice or thrice a day from Carlow via Enniscorthy to Wexford.
The 2 bus station is called Templeshannon on timetables. It's on Shannon Quay on the east riverbank.
From Dublin follow N11 / M11 south along the coast. From the west, eg Cork or Waterford, follow N25 onto N30.
The town sights are within walking distance. For Ferns, use the hourly Wexford Bus 740, taking 10 min on its way to Dublin.
- Enniscorthy Castle (County Museum), Castle Hill. M-F 09:30-17:00, Sa Su 12:00-17:00. First built by the Normans from 1176, the castle was well wrecked by the 16th century. The lands were awarded to Edmund Spenser for his flattering depiction of Elizabeth I as "The Faerie Queen"; he never lived there, but later the castle was rebuilt to the original four-towered floor plan. It now hosts the County Wexford Folk Museum. Adult €6 (combi with Rebellion Centre €10), child €3, conc €5.
- St Aidan's Cathedral, Cathedral St. This RC cathedral was built from 1843 to a design by Augustus Welby Pugin, when the congregation outgrew the previous building. It was restored in 1994. Its patron St Aidan is Máedóc of Ferns who died in 626, he's not the later St Aidan of Lindisfarne.
- 1 National 1798 Rebellion Centre, Parnell Rd, ☏ . M-F 09:30-17:00, Sa Su 12:00-17:00. Interactive museum shows the 1798 rising of the United Irishmen, and especially their last stand on Vinegar Hill across the river. Adult €7 (combi with castle €10), conc €5.
- 2 Vinegar Hill was the main camp of the rebels of 1798, who proclaimed the "Republic of Wexford". A month later, encircling loyalist troops moved in for the kill, and town and camp were re-captured on 21 June. This wasn't the final act as the late arrival of one encircling contingent enabled many rebels to flee through "Needham's Gap". But they were scattered, poorly armed, and could only mount pinprick guerrilla attacks. Their leaders were hunted down, and "The Year of the French" was ended by the capture of Wolfe Tone in Donegal.
- 3 Ferns is a village 12 km northeast along the old road to Gorey, which in the 6th century was the capital of Leinster. In 1169 King Diarmuid MacMurrough was having a scrap with the O'Connors, so he sought help from Henry II of England, a tactic akin to importing a swarm of locusts to help finish some kitchen scraps: it led to centuries of English settlement, conquest and colonisation. The castle was built circa 1220; the ruins are open May-Sept daily 10:00-17:00. At the east end of the village are St Edan's (aka Ferns Cathedral, C of I, Modern), its predecessor 13th C cathedral, St Mary's Augustinian Abbey, High Crosses, St Mogue's Cottage, St Peter's (possibly 11th C) and St Mogue's Well. St Aidan's Monastery across the village is modern.
- 4 Fr Murphy Centre, Tomnaboley Lower, Boolavogue Y21 CV08, ☏ . M 12:00-17:00, Tu-Sa 10:30-17:00. Father John Murphy (1753-1798) was a middling sort of country priest until the Wexford rebellion of 1798, when he revealed an unexpected talent as a military leader. He was among those who escaped from Vinegar Hill. His group spent several days trying to rally support around Kilkenny and Carlow, while dodging loyalist troops, but he was captured on 2 July, tortured and put to death. This volunteer-run museum depicts his life and times.
- 5 Wells House, Ballyedmond Y25 CF96, ☏ . Mar-Oct Sa Su 13:00-16:00. Victorian Gothic mansion built in 1830 by Daniel Robertson, who also built Powerscourt, Kilruddery and Johnstown Castle. Visit by guided tour then stroll the extensive grounds. Adult €14, child €7, conc €10.
- The Athenaeum on Castle St is a 1892 building hosting theatre, concerts and events, plus a small museum.
- Greyhound racing is on Monday and Thursday at 20:00. The stadium is on Ross Rd 300 m west of town centre.
- 1 Enniscorthy Golf Club is 2 km southwest of town. It's a parkland course, blue tees 6104 m, par 72, visitor round €30.
- Strawberry Fair at the end of June marks the arrival of the local strawberry crop. The 2021 dates are TBA.
- Blackstairs Mountains form the boundary with County Carlow, 20 km west of Enniscorthy which is the closest town on the County Wexford side. The highest is Mount Leinster at 794 m / 2605 ft, with a TV mast on top: you can stroll up the paved lane from Nine Stones car park on the Carlow side. A more interesting hike is from Ballycrystal, off R746 on the Wexford side: first ascend north to Black Rock, then head over the east top to the main summit, reckon 4 hours return.
- Aldi and Lidl are 1 km northwest up Bellefield Rd.
- Cotton Tree Cafe, Slaney Place (by the Old Bridge), ☏ . M-Sa 08:30-17:00, Su 10:00-17:00. Great little place for breakfast or lunch.
- The Bailey, Barrack St, ☏ . M-Th 09:00-23:30, F Sa 09:00-00:30, Su 12:00-23:00. Relaxed cafe bar with modern Irish food, last orders 20:30.
- Chang Thai is open W-Su 17:30-22:00. It's within Treacy's Hotel, see Sleep.
- Casa d'Galo Chargrill, 19 Main St Y21 YX00, ☏ . Th-Sa 12:00-15:00, 17:00-22:00, Su 12:00-21:00. Small Portuguese restaurant with good food and ambiance.
- Jackfords potato gin is distilled at Tomnalossett south of town; no tours.
- D Bar is within Treacy's Hotel, see Sleep. It's open F-Su until late and often caters for stag and hen parties.
- Holohans, 3 Slaney Place. Th-M 10:00-23:30. Trad pub, feels like a country pub in town centre, great atmosphere.
- The Antique Tavern, 14 Slaney St. Daily 15:00-23:30. Tiny gem of a pub near the Old Bridge, great welcome, decor and ales.
- Rackards, 23 Rafter St. M-Sa 09:00-01:00, Su 12:00-00:00. Friendly sports pub does decent bar food.
- Stamps, 20 Market Square. M-Th 16:30-23:30, F 15:00-00:30, Sa 12:00-00:30, Su 12:30-23:00. Buzzing little pub in town centre.
- Treacey's Hotel, Templeshannon Y21 T2F4, ☏ . Boxy modern place between bus and railway stations, scores well on comfort, service and value for money. With Thai restaurant. B&B double €90.
- 1 Riverside Park Hotel & Leisure Club, The Promenade Y21 T2F2, ☏ . Slick, friendly, squeaky-clean place, very central. With pool and fitness centre. B&B double €90.
- 2 Monart Spa, The Still Y21 XY79 (3 km west of town, lane has no interchange with bypass N30), ☏ . Spa hotel, adults only, in a Georgian mansion. Pricey but gets rave reviews for comfort and service. B&B double €250.
As of Dec 2020, Enniscorthy has 5G from Eir and Three, and 4G from Vodafone.
- Wexford the county town has the National Heritage Park, and Johnstown Castle with the Agricultural Museum.
- Arklow, scene of a break-out by the 1798 rebels, has a pyramid and a philosophical conundrum by Wittgenstein.
- Waterford, Ireland's oldest city, has Viking, medieval and Georgian heritage.
|Routes through Enniscorthy|
|Dublin ← Gorey ←||N S||→ Wexford → Rosslare|