I had gotten a little lax in my mission to explore more of Ireland. So to remedy that, last weekend, I decided to list the places I had been dying to see in the Sunny South East and start checking them off. Wexford is just over an hour from Dublin (obviously depending on your departure location in Dublin and destination in Wexford!) and I have been hankering to see some of these famous beaches for myself.
So this map snap was my loose plan and there were a few more notes in between so let’s dive right in, shall we?
Random Wexford facts include:
- it’s called the Suny South-East because apparently, it receives more sunlight hours than other counties. I have no data to back this up. I just remember reading it somewhere.
- Wexford is called The Model County. I NEVER knew this. I definitely had to read up as to why and it seems it’s because of model farms and innovative farming methods. So. There’s that.
- The Scandinavian word Waesfjord gives Wexford its name and it means ‘inlet of flat mud lands’. Hmm
- The BEST strawberries in the world come from Wexford. No question. Everyone in Ireland knows this.
- Wexford friends, help me out with this one. There’s a Yola language that was spoken in Wexford until the 19th century?? No clue.
Wexford friends are always talking about weekend strolls on vast expanses of soft sandy beaches with dunes for miles and driftwood just photogenically lying about so my fomo took over. First stop was Ballymoney beach. It is divided into north and south beach and there is a lifeguard station and toilets at the south beach side. The beach is close by Seafield Hotel if you fancy staying somewhere luxe for the weekend and need to get your beach stroll in. Here’s a link to booking.com where you can get 10% off using my referral code.
Next up is Curracloe beach which is 11km of stunning. I can see why Spielberg chose to use this Wexford beach as a set for the movie ‘Saving Private Ryan’. This beach attracts a lot of surfers and there was a surfboard rental shop with offers for lessons. I haven’t swum in the Irish sea in….ever and I’m not starting now so that was a hard pass from me. But if that’s your bag check out the Surfshack for details. There’s also a cafe there and an amusement arcade and free parking.
I also had Morriscastle and Duncannon beaches on my list but the weather was taking a turn so I have these earmarked for my next visit.
Irish National Heritage Park
My favourite stop off on the road trip was to the Irish National Heritage Park in Ferrycarrig. Wexford houses the most incredible ‘living’ museum with reconstructed samples of dwellings in Ireland dating from the Stone Age to Viking settlements and Celtic crannógs. I was blown away with how beautiful this place is and how incredibly fascinating. If you have even the remotest interest in history do not miss a visit here. They’ve got a freeking ring fort! The smoking fire pits outside the dwellings were a fantastic touch. It really felt and smelled as if you had stumbled across a real, ancient home in the woods. I really half expected a by gone farmer or warrior to come strolling around the corner. If you recall, fellow Irish children of the 80s, your 3rd or 4th class histoy book, Footprints. The book had a photo of a crannóg and a fulacht fiadh. I always thought the kids who lived in Wexford were the luckiest because they could go see the heritage park on school tours. The 40 acre park runs interactive experiences like mounted combat, shield making as well as a demo or the fulacht fiadh.
I did not know there was a Tintern in Wales and that’s where this abbey gets its name. So, every day is a school day then. This abbey was founded by the Earl of Pembroke around 1200. I also read during my Wexford roadtrip research that historians also believe that he had the Hook Lighthouse built around this time too. Busy lad. You can see the remains of the nave, chapel, tower and cloister on the site and the combined ticket gets you entry to the grounds as well which contain a walled garden. Adult tickets for the abbey cost €4 and €2 for children. There are some artifacts and a small museum in the tower if you’re interested.
Second oldest operating lighthouse and one of the oldest lighthouses in the world, full stop. Wexford’s Hook Head peninsula has its own warden of the seas, it seems. And has had one since around the late 1100s. The tower stands about 35m and while it’s now fully automated with no friendly, resident lighthouse keeper they do run tours. I arrived too late but a guided tour costs €10 per adult and €6 for children aged 5-18. The lovely peeps at Hook Lighthouse have thought of everything, even sunrise and sunset experiences with snacks and fizz! You do need to book in advance so don’t say you weren’t warned.
Anyone who knows me knows that I can’t HANDLE scary things so skipping the most haunted house in Ireland, Loftus Hall, was an obvious yes from me. If an elevated heart rate and desire to run screaming from any sort of vaguely heebie jeebie looking thing is your cup of tea here’s the link to the house. They are open during the summer and for Hallowe’en but any time of year is a hard pass from me.
I rented the sweetest cottage at the Potter’s Yard through Airbnb. The owners, Patricia and Ultan are artists and have an onsite pottery studio and craft shop. If you’re looking for a unique experience to add to your trip book a pottery or beeswax candle making lesson for €25 pp. The location is under 15 minutes drive to Kilmore Quay for seafood and strolls. Wexford has so many thatched cottages and cute stays that you will be spoiled for choice.
I already mentioned Seafield Hotel and Spa if you wanted more of a spa, luxe vibe. BUT check out this gem I spotted on the roadside and WISH I had known about before I booked my own accommodation. Casually located at the gate to the Rathaspeck Manor bnb is The Doll’s House. The whimsical exterior is contrasted with the vintage, homey feel inside (or so the web photos tell me). You can rent this chalet on Airbnb but note I think it’s a two-night minimum.
*The booking.com and Airbnb links are referral links and could offer you a discount if you book using them. They will earn me a small bonus so everyone wins.