Exploring Wexford Town
Get started exploring by walking the length of Main Street, both north and south, taking time to detour up and down the alleys and lanes that crisscross it. The tourist office can supply you with a free map if you want some guidance. You may want to start out by visiting the Westgate Heritage Tower, which will provide you with valuable context and background information before you explore the rest of the city.
Attractions Farther Afield in County Wexford
The rounded granite form of Mount Leinster, the highest in Wexford, is a landmark throughout the region. This is a popular hang-gliding spot as the summit is always windy. On a clear day, views are sweeping. To get there, follow signs for the Mount Leinster Scenic Drive from the sleepy town of Kiltealy on the eastern slopes of the mountain. Soon you will begin climbing the exposed slopes; don't get too distracted by the views, because the road is twisting and quite narrow in places. There's a parking area at the highest point of the auto road, and a paved access road (closed to cars) continues for over 2km (1 1/4 miles) to the summit. From the top you can scramble along the ridge to the east, known as Black Rock Mountain. To return, continue along the Scenic Drive, which ends a few miles outside the town of Bunclody.
A Trip Through History: Exploring the Ring of Hook
A wild and rugged place of rocky headlands and secluded beaches, the Hook Peninsula juts out between Bannow Bay and Waterford Harbour in southwest County Wexford. In medieval times, these inlets were significant landing spots for travelers from Britain to Ireland, as archaeological remains attest. Today, the peninsula is a popular driving or cycling route, as well as a magnet for hikers on the Wexford Coastal Pathway and for birders watching the spring and fall passerine migration.
Start your exploration at the town of Wellington Bridge 22km (14 miles) southwest of Wexford Town via R7333. Just west of Wellington Bridge on R733 is a roadside stop on the left by a cemetery; from here you can look across Bannow Bay to the ruins of Clonmines, a Norman village established in the 13th century. It’s a fine example of a walled medieval settlement, with remains of two churches, three tower houses, and an Augustinian priory. You can drive to the ruins—just follow R733 another mile west to a left turn posted for the Wicklow Coastal Pathway, and continue straight on this road where the pathway turns right. The ruins are on private land, so ask permission at the farmhouse at the end of the road.
Continuing west on R733, turn left on R734 at the sign for the Ring of Hook, and turn right at the sign for Tintern Abbey ★. Founded by Welsh monks in the 13th century, its beautiful grounds contain a restored stone bridge that spans a narrow sea inlet.
As R734 continues south, you come to Baginbun Head, where the Norman presence in Ireland was first established with a victory over the Irish at the Battle of Baginbun. Today it’s a peaceful scene, with a fine beach nestling against the cliffs, but from the beach you can still see the outline of the Norman earthwork fortifications on the head.
The tip of the peninsula, with its line of low cliffs eroded in places for blowholes, has been famous for shipwrecks since Norman times. Its historic lighthouse has been on this site since the early 13th century.
The Ring of Hook road returns along the western side of the peninsula, passing the beaches at Booley Bay and Dollar Bay. On a promontory overlooking the town of Duncannon is a fort built in 1588 to protect Waterford Harbour from the Spanish Armada. Just north of Duncannon, along the coast at the village of Ballyhack, a ferry runs to County Waterford, and there’s a Knights Hospitallers castle on a hill.
A visit to the Hook Peninsula wouldn't be complete without a stop at Dunbrody Abbey, in a field beside the road about 6.5km (4 miles) north of Duncannon. The abbey, founded in 1170, is a magnificent ruin and one of the largest Cistercian abbeys in Ireland. Despite its grand size, it bears remarkably little ornamentation. Tours are sometimes available; inquire at the visitor center across the road.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.