Memory Lane: Main Street Wexford Town

Posted: 06/12/2020 15:36:29

Wexford Town

In this instalment of the Memory Lanes series, we will be hopping on a train at Connolly Station and heading to Wexford Town in Ireland’s ‘Sunny South East’. The station is named after one Michael O’ Hanrahan, a native of New Ross who was stationed in Jacob’s Biscuit Factory in Dublin during 1916. He was sadly executed by firing Squad on May 4th of that year. Wexford is a wonderful county known best for being the home of Irish strawberries, it’s beautiful beaches,  rich history and heritage and fantastic yearly festivals.

Wexford townAs we exit the station we are greeted by the hustle and bustle of traffic and pedestrians on Redmond Square. It is named after John Redmond, the man who developed large swathes of land in a notable expansion of the town, while also helping to finance the railway line we just travelled on. His Grand Nephew and namesake was John Redmond, the famous Irish Parliamentary Party MP who played such an important role in attempting to obtain Home rule for Ireland. This famous parliamentarian’s funeral on March 6th 1918 brought the whole town to a standstill and was the scene of, for then, a unique event in this country; both the Protestant and Catholic churches in the town tolled their bells at the same time in his honour. It is to the elder John that the Obelisk in the centre of the Square is dedicated.

Next, we will Cross Square via the pedestrian lights outside Dunnes Stores make our way onto Selskar Street. This thoroughfare shares its name with the Abbey, which is a stones’ throw away via Well Lane. This Christian site was said to have been built sometime in the 1100’s and was previously the location a Viking Temple erected in praise of Odin. On this street is the excellent Selskar Bookshop, which is the place to go for magazines and books - especially tomes relating to County Wexford.

Next on our walk we come across a statue of a man on the prowl with a hurl in hand. This is no ordinary man; this is a monument to the real-life giant that was Nickey Rackard. Hailing from the village of Killane near the Carlow border, he lead his county to two All-Ireland titles  in 1955 and 56 - their first since 1910. The man with the exceptional scoring talent that was so prodigious the famous RTE commentator Micháel o’ Hehir used to refer to “another Rackard Special” being scored - is revered like a god in Wexford.

This area is a hive of activity, especially on a splitting the stones summers day, as families on a day out mingle with buskers belting out a Christy Moore or Taylor Swift number. A focal point is The Square known as “The Bull-Ring” and standing out is a statue of a Pikeman, which marks the 1798 Rebellion.In that year, the people of Wexford rose up in Rebellion against British rule. They gained control of vast swathes of the County, before losing to the Crown Forces after crushing defeats in Enniscorthy and New Ross.The main weapon used by the rebellious locals was the Pike, a spear like object with a very long handle. It is to this historic event that the statue of a man holding a pike commemorates. Also to be found here is an indoor market selling all sorts of homemade foodstuffs and bric-a-brac.

The town is full of fantastic places to eat, drink and make merry, with all sorts of budgets and tastes catered for. On the food side you are spoiled for choice, be it a burger, panini, organic salad or lovely Wexford Lamb, whatever you fancy - it’s here.  On the entertainment side of things, the options range from Trad Sessions in cosy snugs to nightclubs playing banging beats.

Wexford Opera FestivalWexford Opera Festival
By a country mile, the stand out event in Wexford’s Calendar has to be its world famous Opera Festival. The months of October and November, the streets of Wexford Town are thronged with lovers of that particular art form on their way to another production by Verde or Puccini. The festival first started in 1951, and next year the 2021 Festival will see organisers celebrating the 70th Anniversary of the event.

A few years ago the 855 seater Main auditorium played host to a performance of Foroni’s “Cristina, regina de Svezia”, which in 2014 was crowned ‘Best Re-discovered Opera performance’ at the prestigious International Opera Awards. This has further enhanced the already sterling reputation of the festival as it continues to go from strength to strength.

If you fancy resting your tired legs while taking in the view, make your way to the Quayside. Be it watching the birds in flight or witnessing the Connolly-Rosslare train slowly trundling by just a few feet from where you are sitting, this spot is the perfect place to recharge ones batteries. Even better when indulging in an ice-cream from one of the many outlets offering this tasty treat nearby. If you look to your right, the chances are you will notice a Napoleonic looking figure in the distance. This figure is one John Barry, a man who hailed from Tacumshane some 20 km away from Wexford Town, who emigrated to the U.S.A. and is regarded as the ‘founder of the U.S. Navy’.

National Heritage Park WexfordJust outside the town, The National Heritage Centre is less than a 10 minute drive away and just off the N11 is well worth a visit. Here you can take a step back in time as you walk among recreation of settlements that existed in Celtic and Viking times in Ireland.

If you’re looking to visit the wonderful county of Wexford on your next excursion, check out the perfect place to stay in our Ireland’s Blue Book blog.

For information on the quickest way to travel to Wexford Town by car or for a one-stop-shop bursting with information on things to do and places to stay, eat or drink, download our free location app GeoFindIT here.

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