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Main Street, Wexford
|Motto: Per Aquam et Ignem
'Through Water and Fire'
|Elevation||1 m (3 ft)|
|• Urban||19,913 (20,072 with Environs)|
|Irish Grid Reference||T051213|
|Dialing code||053, +353 53|
It is near the southeastern corner of the island of Ireland, close to Rosslare Europort. The town is linked to Dublin by the M11/N11 National Primary Route, and the national rail network. It has a population of 19,913 (20,072 with environs) according to the 2011 census.
Wexford lies on the south side of Wexford Harbour, the estuary of the River Slaney. According to a local legend, the town got its Irish name, Loch Garman, from a young man named Garman Garbh who was drowned on the mudflats at the mouth of the River Slaney by flood waters released by an enchantress. The resulting loch or lough was thus named, Loch Garman. The town was founded by the Vikings in about 800 AD. They named it Veisafjǫrðr, inlet of the mud flats and the name has changed only slightly into its present form. For about three hundred years it was a Viking town, a city state, largely independent and owing only token dues to the Irish kings of Leinster.
However, in May 1169 Wexford was besieged by Dermot MacMurrough, King of Leinster and his Norman ally, Robert Fitz-Stephen. The Norse inhabitants resisted fiercely, until the Bishop of Ferns persuaded them to accept a settlement with Dermot. Wexford was an Old English settlement in the Middle Ages. An old dialect of English, known as Yola, was spoken uniquely in Wexford up until the 19th century.
County Wexford produced strong support for Confederate Ireland during the 1640s. A fleet of Confederate privateers was based in Wexford town, consisting of sailors from Flanders and Spain as well as local men. Their vessels raided English Parliamentarian shipping, giving some of the proceeds to the Confederate government in Kilkenny. As a result, the town was sacked by the English Parliamentarians during the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland in 1649. Many of its inhabitants were killed and much of the town was burned.
County Wexford was the centre of the 1798 rebellion against British rule. Wexford town was held by the rebels throughout the fighting and was the scene of a notorious massacre of local loyalists by the United Irishmen, who executed them with pikes on Wexford bridge.
Redmond Square, near the railway station, commemorates the elder John Edward Redmond (1806-1865) who was Liberal MP for the city of Wexford. The inscription reads: "My heart is with the city of Wexford. Nothing can extinguish that love but the cold soil of the grave." His nephew William Archer Redmond (1825-1880) sat as an MP in Isaac Butt's Home Rule Party from 1872 until 1880. The younger John Redmond, son of William Archer Redmond was a devoted follower of Charles Stewart Parnell and leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party until his death in April 1918. He is interred in the Redmond family vault, St. John's Cemetery, Upper St. John's Street. Redmond Park was formally opened in 1931 as a memorial to Willie Redmond, younger brother of John Redmond. He was also an Irish Parliamentary Party MP and was killed in 1917 while serving with the 16th (Irish) Division on the Western Front during the Messines offensive, where he was buried. Willie Redmond had sat as a Parnellite MP for Wexford from 1883 until 1885.
Wexford's success as a seaport declined in the 20th century because of the constantly changing sands of Wexford Harbour. By 1968 it had become unprofitable to keep dredging a channel from the harbour mouth to the quays in order to accommodate the larger ships of the era, so the port closed. The port had been extremely important to the local economy, with coal being a major import and agricultural machinery and grain being exported. The port is now used exclusively by mussel dredgers and pleasure craft. The woodenworks which fronted the quays and which were synonymous with Wexford were removed in the 1990s as part of an ambitious plan to claim the quay as an amenity for the town as well as retaining it as a commercially viable waterfront. Despite the bankruptcy of the contractor, the project was a success.
In the early 20th century, a new port was built, about 20 kilometres (12 mi) south, at Rosslare Harbour, now known as Rosslare Europort. This is a deepwater harbour unaffected by tides and currents. All major shipping now uses this port and Wexford Port is used only by fishing boats and leisure vessels.
Wexford is the home of many youth and senior theatre groups including the Buí Bolg street performance group, Oyster Lane Theatre Group, Wexford Pantomime Society, Wexford Light Opera Society and Wexford Drama Group.
Wexford has a number of music and drama venues including Wexford Opera House, the Dun Mhuire Theatre and Wexford Arts Centre. Wexford's Theatre Royal opera house was recently replaced by the Wexford Opera House and it hosts the internationally recognised Opera Festival every October. Dr Tom Walsh started the festival in 1951, and it has since grown into the internationally recognised festival it is today. The Dun Mhuire Theatre holds music events and bingo as well as hosting shows by Oyster Lane Theatre Group and Wexford Pantomime Society. The Wexford Arts Centre hosts exhibitions, theatre, music and dance events. Various concerts are held in St. Iberius's Church (Church of Ireland).
Until the mid-nineteenth century the Yola language could be heard in Wexford, and a few words still remain in use. The food of Wexford is also distinct from the rest of Ireland, due to the local cultivation of seafood, smoked cod being a token dish in the region.
The National Lottery Skyfest was held in Wexford on the 19th of March providing a formidable fireworks display and a pyrotechnic waterfall on the towns main bridge spanning 300m. Buí Bolg also performed on the night.
Wexford has witnessed some major developments such as the Key West centre on the Quays, the redevelopment of the quayfront itself, White's Hotel and the huge new residential development of Clonard village. Proposed developments include the development of a large new residential quarter at Carcur, a new river crossing at that point, the new town library, the refurbishment of Selskar Abbey and the controversial redevelopment of the former site of Wexford Electronix. Also, the relocated offices of the Department of Environment have been constructed near Wexford General Hospital on Newtown Road.
Notable churches within the town include St. Iberius, Bride Street and Rowe Street with their distinctive spires, the impressive Saint Peter's College, with a chapel designed by Augustus Welby Pugin and Ann Street Presbyterian church. A former Quaker meeting hall is now a band room in High Street. Two of the most noticeable buildings in Wexford are the "Twin Churches" Rowe St. and Bride St. These churches can be seen from any part of Wexford and in 2008 celebrated their 150th anniversary. This was a huge event for the churches. Joe Kinsella is the caretaker of Rowe St. Church.
From an employment point of view, major employers in and around the town are, Wexford Creamery, Celtic Linen, Wexford Viking Glass, Snap-Tite, Waters Technology, Kent Construction, Equifax and BNY Mellon. Coca Cola operates a research plant employing up to 160. Eishtec operates a callcenter for British mobile operator EE employing 250. Jack n Jones,Pamela Scott and A-wear other retailers operate in the town.
In the public sector, employment is provided at Johnstown Castle by Teagasc, the Environmental Protection Agency headquartered in Johnstown, Department of Environment, Wexford County Council and Wexford General Hospital.
In May 2011 an official web portal for Wexford, was launched which encompassed local government, Wexford Tourism, and the Wexford Means Business website aimed at promoting the value proposition of Wexford as a business destination.
Places of Interest
The Irish National Heritage Park at Ferrycarrig includes various exhibits spanning 9000 years of Irish History, allowing the visitor to wander around re-creations of historic Irish dwelling including crannogs, Viking houses and Norman forts.
The Wexford Wildfowl Reserve is a Ramsar site based on mudflats, (known locally as slobland), just outside Wexford. It is a migratory stop-off point for thousands of ducks, geese, swans and waders. Up to 12,000 (50% of the worlds population) of Greenland White-fronted Geese spend the winter on the Wexford slobs. There is a visitor centre with exhibitions and an audio-visual show.
Wexford railway station opened on 17 August 1874. The railway line from Dublin to Rosslare Harbour runs along the quayside on the north-eastern edge of the town. In 2010 the Rosslare Strand to Waterford rail line closed down due to lack of customers.
Wexford is also served by local and national bus networks primarily Bus Eireann, Wexford Bus and Ardcavan. There are also many local taxi and hackney providers.
Rosslare Europort is 19 kilometers south of Wexford and passenger and freight ferries run between Fishguard and Pembroke in Wales and Cherbourg and Roscoff in France. The main ferry companies operating on these routes are Stena Line, Irish Ferries and Celtic Link.
The town also has a shuttle-bus service which has stops at the towns main facilities.
Wexford Golf Club has a newly built clubhouse and course, which were finished in 2006 and 2007 respectively.
The Wexford Youths football club were admitted to the League of Ireland in 2007. Wexford Youths are the first Wexford-based club to take part in the competition. Wexford Youths is the brainchild of former property developer Mick Wallace TD, who funded the construction of a complex for the new team's home at Newcastle, Ferrycarrig. In 2014, the team narrowly missed out on a promotion to the Irish Premier League.
Wexford is also home to several Gaelic Athletic Association clubs. Though the town was traditionally associated with Gaelic football, with six teams providing ample outlets for its youngsters, it wasn’t until 1960 that hurling took its foothold, with much due to local man Oliver “Hopper” McGrath’s contribution to the county’s All-Ireland Hurling Final triumph over the then-champions Tipperary. Having scored an early second-half goal to effectively kill-off the opposition, McGrath went on to be the first man from the town of Wexford to receive an All-Ireland Hurling winner’s medal.
One of the town’s local hurling clubs, Faythe Harriers, holds a record fifteen county minor championships, having dominated the minor hurling scene in the 1950s, late 1960s and early 1970s. However, the senior side has only enjoyed briefly successful periods, having won just five county senior championships.
Although the team has not achieved county senior football success since 1956, Volunteers (“the Vols”) of Wexford Town hold a record eleven county senior titles, as well as six minor titles. Other notable Gaelic football clubs in the town are Sarsfields, St. Mary’s of Maudlintown, Clonard and St. Joseph’s.
Wexford had a brilliant hurling team in the 1950s which included the famous Rackard Brothers, Nicky, Bobby, and Willie, Art Foley who was the goalkeeper, Ned Wheeler,Padge Kehoe, Tom Ryan, Tim Flood, Jim Morrissey,Nick O Donnell, to name but a few.
Wexford has one rugby club, called Wexford Wanderers.
Ireland’s boxing head coach and former Irish Olympian Billy Walsh is a native of Wexford town and has contributed greatly to the success of underage level boxers with local club St. Ibars/Joseph’s.
There are five secondary schools serving the population of the town :
St Peter's College, Wexford (for boys), Coláiste Eamon Rís, Loch Garman - C. B. S., Wexford (for boys), Presentation Secondary School, Wexford (for girls), Loreto Secondary School, Wexford (for girls), and Wexford Vocational College V. E. C. (mixed).
- John Banville, writer
- John Barry, father of the American Navy
- Eoin Colfer, writer
- Brendan Corish, politician
- Jane Elgee 'Speranza', mother of Oscar Wilde
- Gerald Fleming, meteorologist
- Brendan Howlin, politician
- William Keneally, recipient of the Victoria Cross
- John Jent, Newfoundland politician
- Dave King, musician
- Larry Kirwan, writer and musician
- Michael Londra, singer
- Declan Lowney, director
- Thomas D'Arcy McGee, Canadian politician
- Dan O'Herlihy, actor
- Bridget Regan, musician
- Billy Roche, playwright
- Dick Roche, politician
- Kathleen, Viscountess Simon, abolitionist.
- Declan Sinnott, musician
- John Sinnott, recipient of the Victoria Cross
- Pierce Turner, singer-songwriter
- John Welsh, writer
- Kevin Doyle, soccer player
- William Lamport, Irish soldier upon whom Zorro is said to be based
- Cry Before Dawn, rock band who found success in the late 1980s, hails from Wexford.
Wexford is twinned with the following places:
- "Wexford Legal Town Results". Central Statistics Office. 2011.
- Latham, Robert Gordon. The English Language: Volume 1. Walton and Maberly, 1855. Page 426-427.
- Placenames Database of Ireland
- "Saving Private Ryan". Filmography. The Irish Film and Television Network. Retrieved 4 April 2011.
- "The Park". The Irish National Park. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
- "Wexford Wildfowl Reserve - About Us". National Parks & Wildlife Service. Retrieved 13 December 2012.
- "The Wexford Wildfowl Reserve". Office of Public Works (OPW). Retrieved 13 December 2012.
- "Wexford station". Railscot - Irish Railways. Retrieved 7 September 2007.
- CSO.ie, Census for post 1821 figures.
- Lee, JJ (1981). "On the accuracy of the Pre-famine Irish censuses". In Goldstrom, J. M.; Clarkson, L. A. Irish Population, Economy, and Society: Essays in Honour of the Late K. H. Connell. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.
- Mokyr, Joel; O Grada, Cormac (November 1984). "New Developments in Irish Population History, 1700-1850". The Economic History Review 37 (4): 473–488. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0289.1984.tb00344.x.
- RTE.ie, The Weather Team on the RTÉ website
- Oldfield, Sybil (January 2008), "Simon, Dame Kathleen Rochard, Viscountess Simon", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press), retrieved 4 January 2013 (subscription required)
- "Jumeblages" [Twinnings] (in French).
- "Our Town and History".
- "Twinning Pact between the towns of Wexford and Lugo".
- Billy Colfer (20 April 2008). Wexford: A Town and Its Landscape. Cork University Press. ISBN 9781859184295.