Wexford (Irish: Loch Garman) is the county town of County Wexford, on the southeast corner of Ireland. The bay that forms its harbour has for centuries drawn incomers, and it was at the centre of the rebellion of 1798. In 2016 it had a population of 20,188.
Wexford began in the 10th century as the Viking harbour of Veisafjörðr - "Bay of the Mud Flats". A long sand spit stretched north from Rosslare to enclose the bay of Wexford Harbour: it was shallow but afforded protection for small wooden vessels. The bay also attracted other visitors: the Normans established a walled town in the late 12th century, the crusading Knights Templar had a base here, and Wexford was a major port into early modern times. Indeed it was a nest of privateers until Oliver Cromwell's forces arrived in 1649, killing not just them but most of the inhabitants. In 1798 Wexford, and the entire county, was at the centre of the United Irishmen rebellion - see County Wexford#Understand for this event which convulsed the whole of Ireland. And then came the worst of a series of famines.
By the 20th century shipping had outgrown the harbour, the whole bay was silting up, and the sand spit was eroding and losing its protective value. A new port was therefore established at Rosslare to the south; Wexford became a backwater only used by small pleasure craft and fishing boats. Agriculture and fishing remain its main industries.
The Tourist Information Centre is on the Quay front, 200 m south of the river bridge.
Five trains a day run from Dublin Connolly, taking 2 hr 30 min to Wexford via Dún Laoghaire, Bray, Wicklow Town, Rathdrum, Arklow, Gorey and Enniscorthy. The trains continue to Rosslare Strand and Rosslare Europort (for ferries daily from Wales, and in summer from Cherbourg, Roscoff and Bilbao). A walk-up single from Dublin is €16, see Irish Rail for timetables and ticket deals. This is the only railway route to Wexford, the line to Waterford was axed in 2010.
1 O Hanrahan Railway Station is by the river bridge. It's named for Michael O'Hanrahan (1877-1916), executed for his part in the Easter Rising.
By bus there's competition on the route from Dublin. Expressway Bus 2 / X2 runs hourly from Dublin Airport and Busáras via Arklow, Gorey and Enniscorthy, taking 2 hr 45 min to Wexford, adult single €11. 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 to Wexford; 2 hr 45 min but higher fares than Expressway. Change at Gorey for buses to Wicklow Town.
Expressway Bus 40 / 440 is the Marco Polo of Ireland, trekking the width of the country from Rosslare ferry port via Wexford to Waterford, Dungarvan, Youghal, Cork, Macroom, Killarney and Tralee. The section between Wexford and Waterford runs every two hours and takes an hour.
The Expressway bus between Wexford and Rosslare Europort only runs four times a day, to meet the ferries, and bypasses Rosslare Strand - use Wexford Bus 878, which runs from Strand M-Sa thrice.
Wexford bus station is next to the railway station: it may be shown on timetables as Redmond Square.
In town: Wexford Bus has two loop routes:
- WX1 "Drinagh Loop" is clockwise from Redmond Square to The Quays, Drinagh Retail Park, Whitemill, Clonard Village, the Hospital and back to Redmond Square. Buses run M-Sa every 30-40 min.
- WX2 "Clonard Loop" is anticlockwise from Redmond Square to the Hospital, Clonard Village, Distillery Road, The Quays and back to Redmond Square. Buses run M-Sa every 45 min.
As of Jan 2021, the cash fare (exact money needed) is €2 adult, €1 child. By TFI Leap Card it's €1.80 adult, 90c child. A Leap day ticket is €4.50 adult, €2.25 child, and a one week ticket is €15 adult, €7.50 child.
Out of town: see "Get in" for the inter-city buses from Dublin, Gorey and Enniscorthy, and from Waterford and New Ross.
- Wexford Bus 877 "Bridge Loop" is clockwise from Redmond Square to the racecourse, National Heritage Park, Kyle Cross, Castlebridge and back to Redmond Square. It runs M-Sa hourly and you can buy a combined bus and Heritage Park ticket from the driver.
- Wexford Bus 390 / 383 runs south to Kilmore Quay, with four M-Sa.
- Wexford Bus 878 runs southeast to Rosslare Strand, M-Sa thrice; it doesn't reach Europort.
Route maps with stop locations can be found on the TFI route mapper.
- Town centre retains its Viking street pattern, with Main Street winding from the Abbey. Westgate, of 14th century, is the only surviving gate in the town wall, with other portions of the wall remaining at Abbey Street and Mallin Street. The quays are pleasant to stroll; "keysers" were the narrow alleys between quays and town in Viking times, with Keysers Lane the main thoroughfare.
- Churches: the finest is the 18th century St Iberius (C of I) on North Main St, with Renaissance front and Georgian interior. See also Church of the Assumption on Bride St (RC, 19th C neo-gothic though much altered), Church of the Immaculate Conception on Rowe St (RC, likewise 19th C neo-gothic), the Presbyterian Church on Anne St, and the Franciscan Friary church. The friary was wrecked by Cromwell but remains active.
- 1 Selskar Abbey in its present form was founded in 1190, dissolved in 1542 and utterly wrecked by Cromwell in 1649. There's a legend that Henry II spent Lent of 1172 at its predecessor abbey, doing penance for the murder of Thomas Becket. The story is credible since Henry II was in Ireland at that time, and trying to repair the political damage caused by the murder. Another credible legend is that a Viking temple to Odin originally stood here. In 1826 the ruin was incorporated into a Protestant church, which in turn has closed. There are tours of the site M-Sa at 15:00.
- 2 Irish National Heritage Park, Ferrycarrig Y35 X313 (3 km west of town on N11), ☏ . Daily Sept-Apr 09:30-17:30, May-Aug 09:30-18:30. Outdoor museum shows the history of Ireland from prehistory through Viking and early Celtic times to the present day. Assistance dogs only. Adult €11, child €6, conc €9.
- 3 Barntown Castle is the stump of a tower house along a back lane 5 km west of town. It's on private land but you see enough from the lane; it could pass for an artfully camouflaged electricity substation.
- 4 Wexford Wildfowl Reserve is on North Slob, an artificial island of reclaimed farmland created in the 1840s and lying 2 m below sea level. It's open daily 09:30-16:30, free.
- 5 Johnstown Castle (Irish Agricultural Museum), Oldtown Lane Y35 HP22 (7 km southwest of town on lane to Murntown), ☏ . Daily Sept-Jun 09:00-16:30, Jul Aug 09:00-17:30. The castle is a Gothic Revival mansion built in 1810. In 1945 it was given to the state in lieu of tax, and became an agricultural college and research station. The outbuildings in 1979 became the Agricultural Museum. The main house languished unoccupied until 2019 when it was restored to its original decor, and guided tours resumed - these include the 86 m servants' tunnel. There's an extensive park with gardens, woodlands, ornamental lakes, Gothic follies and statues. Museum adult €9, conc €7, child €4, plus €4 for house tour..
- 6 Curracloe Beach is a very long sandy beach northeast of town, 11 km away via R742. It's backed by sand dunes, and further south by the woods of Raven Nature Reserve. It was used as the location for Omaha Beach, the D-Day landing site in Normandy, in the 1998 film Saving Private Ryan. There are more sandy beaches south of town, see Rosslare.
- Wexford Swimming Pool & Leisure Centre is across the bridge behind Riverbank House Hotel. It has a gym and fitness classes. Other centres in town (eg the Talbot, and Club Vitae in Clayton Whites Hotel) involve buying extended memberships.
- National Opera House, opened in 2009, stages opera, music and dance in two auditoriums. It's the main venue for Wexford Festival Opera, held over a week in October - the next is probably 10-17 Oct 2021 but tbc.
- Cinemas: Arc Cinema is on Redmond Square by the bus and railway station. The Omniplex is 2 km south of the centre on Rosslare Rd.
- Gaelic games: County GAA teams play Gaelic football and hurling at Wexford Park (sponsored as "Chadwicks Wexford Park" since 2020), capacity 25,000. It's on Clonard Rd 500 m west of town centre.
- Wexford Golf Course is 1 km south of town centre at Mulgannon. Blue tees 5981 m, par 71, visitor round €15. Other nearby courses are at Rathaspeck and Rosslare, and there's a driving range at Killiane Castle.
- Wexford Racecourse (aka Bettyville) is 2 km west of the centre along R769 Newtown Road. It's a left-handed course of 1 mile 4 furlongs, which since 2016 only has National Hunt (jumps) races March-Oct.
- Main Street (mostly pedestrianised) is the pleasant retail strip. Lots of craft jewellery places, eg Wexford Silver.
- The most central big supermarket is Aldi, 500 m south of the bridge. It's open M-F 09:00-22:00, Sa Su 09:00-21:00.
- Strawberries and cream cheese are County Wexford specialties.
- Cappuchino's at 25 North Main St is open M-Sa 08:30-16:30 for breakfast and lunch. No toilets on premises.
- La Cuisine, North Main St. M-Sa 09:00-17:00. Deli cafe, good food but limited seating.
- Stable Diet, 100 South Main St. M-Sa 08:30-16:30. Cafe and patisserie serves great coffee, cakes and lunches.
- The Yard, Upper George's St, ☏ . Th-Sa 12:00-15:00, 17:30-21:30. Good European / Med food, with charming courtyard dining area.
- Vine Restaurant, 109 North Main St, ☏ . Th-Su 17:30-21:30. This Thai restaurant gets great reviews for food and service.
- Spice, Monck St, ☏ . M-Th 17:00-23:00, F-Su 16:00-23:00. Mostly South Indian style, not as hot as your traditional post-pub North Indian curry.
- Rob's Ranch House (formerly Robertino's), 17 South Main St, ☏ . M-Sa 10:00-20:30, Su 12:30-20:30. They do trad breakfasts, Tex Mex, pizza, burgers, wraps and the like. They've another branch in Killarney.
- Westgate Design, 22a North Main St. M-Sa 08:00-18:00. Cheap food on the go within Westgate Design shopping mall. You can sit in the restaurant, Cafe 22 is just takeaway.
- Cistin Eile, 80 South Main St, ☏ . M-W 12:00-15:00, Th-Su 12:30-14:30, 18:00-20:00. Modern Irish food with continental zest.
- Premier, 104 South Main St. Daily 16:00-21:00. Fish & Chips takeaway, usually good quality but uneven. Try their rissoles.
- Schnitzel Haus at 104 North Main Street does trad German fare Su-Th 11:00-20:00, F Sa 11:00-22:00.
- Ramen Wexford on Common Quay St serves Asian street food Su-Th 13:00-20:00, F Sa 13:00-21:00.
- La Côte, Church Lane (by harbour), ☏ . Daily 12:30-14:30, 17:30-21:00. Great seafood, the tasting menu is especially good value.
- Breweries: Drew Fox Brewery produces Clever Man ales, and Yellowbelly produces Yellowbelly Beers. Neither offers tours.
- Centenary Stores, Charlotte St, ☏ . Open 24 hours.. Good solid place for food or drink, trad decor within a converted warehouse.
- Thomas Moore Tavern, Cornmarket, ☏ . W-Sa 16:00-23:30, Su 12:30-23:00. Long-standing town favourite, good bar food and trad live music.
- The Sky and The Ground, 112 South Main St, ☏ . Su-Th 15:00-23:30, F Sa 15:00-00:30. Atmospheric pub with great selection of ales.
- Plenty more: try Maggie May's on Monck St and Mackens (aka Cape Bar or The Undertaker) on the Bull Ring, and see Sleep for Bugler Doyles.
- Saint George Guesthouse, Upper George's St, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Great value and welcome at this well-run central hotel. All rooms en-suite and has a private lock-up car park. B&B double €80.
- Talbot Hotel Wexford, The Quay Y35 FP9P, ☏ . Modern hotel in a converted waterfront warehouse, with a spa and swimming pool. B&B double €90.
- Clayton Whites Hotel, Abbey Street, ☏ . Central hotel in 18th C building, clean welcoming and efficient, with spa and pool. Assistance dogs only. Underground car park (max height 2 m) has 250 spaces. B&B double €110.
- The Blue Door, 18 Lower Georges St Y35 ET88, ☏ . Cosy B&B in a Georgian townhouse, open year-round. B&B double €80.
- Bugler Doyle's, 83 South Main St Y35 FV48, ☏ . Lively pub, has rooms but not the place for peaceful sleep. B&B double €100.
- 1 Ferrybank Caravan and Camping Park, Tincone, Ferrybank, ☏ . Clean quiet place open year-round, 1 km walk across bridge to town. Camping €12 ppn, caravan €25.
- 2 Riverbank House Hotel, Ferrybank South Y35 AH33 (east end of river bridge), ☏ . Friendly budget place, good dining, some rooms look tired. B&B double €80.
- 3 Maple Lodge, Glebe, Castlebridge (on R741 5 km north of Wexford Bridge), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Clean hospitable B&B. Safe parking and walk to restaurants. Guest sitting room / patio picnic area. B&B double €80.
- 4 Ferrycarrig Hotel, Ferrycarrig (N11 four km northwest of centre), ☏ . Pleasant, efficient hotel with great views over the Slaney estuary. B&B double €100.
- 5 Maldron Hotel, Ballindinas Y35 E8KT (New Ross roundabout, junction of N11/N25), ☏ . Boxy modern place at edge of town, gets great scores for comfort and service. With leisure centre and pool. B&B double €90.
- 6 Whitford House Hotel, New Line Rd (Duncannon road roundabout on N25), ☏ . Good value for money at this well-run edge of town hotel. With leisure club and pool. B&B double €85.
- Killiane Castle: see Rosslare for this plush place off N25 south of town.
As of Dec 2020, Wexford has 5G from Eir, and 4G from Three and Vodafone.
- Enniscorthy was the stronghold of the 1798 rebellion, commemorated in the National 1798 Centre and on Vinegar Hill.
- Rosslare harbour is industrial and restricted, but the Strand a few km north is an attractive beach.
- Kilmore Quay has boat trips to Great Saltee Island, a nature reserve.
- Fethard-on-Sea is the main village on the scenic Hook Peninsula.
- New Ross has the Dunbrody replica emigrant sailing ship, the JFK Arboretum, and the Kennedy dynasty's ancestral homestead.
|Routes through Wexford|
|Dublin ← Gorey ←||N S||→ ENDS AT ROUNDABOUT WITH|
|Waterford ← New Ross ←||W SE||→ Rosslare|