|• Dáil Éireann||Wexford|
|Time zone||WET (UTC+0)|
|• Summer (DST)||IST (WEST) (UTC-1)|
Kilmuckridge (Irish: Cill Mhucraise), formerly Ford or The Ford, is a village in County Wexford in Ireland, near the Irish Sea coast, which is popular with weekend visitors and holidaymakers. It lies on the R742 regional road 22 km (14 mi) south of Gorey.
The local beaches are the main attraction of the area, part of a long stretch of unbroken sandy beach that connects Cahore to Raven Point. This is said to be one of the longest stretches of beach in Europe and is sometimes nicknamed the "Golden Mile".
Morriscastle, the most famous beach, is popular with swimmers, walkers, horse riders and anglers, and is the focal point for a cluster of holiday home developments, caravan parks and camp sites. It currently holds a prestigious Blue Flag award, granted due to its excellent water quality, safety, well-managed environment and good local services. Morriscastle has also been awarded the Green Coast Beaches award. According to a local legend, the site of its car park is a hungry grass location, where passers-through would always feel hungry afterwards.
Other beaches nearby include Ballinoulart, Tinnaberna and Ballynamona, which are generally secluded and less developed. The local coast is host to many rare flora and fauna and is part of a national heritage site, Kilmuckridge-Tinnaberna Sandhills. A substantial wind farm is located near Ballinoulart beach. Common fish regularly caught in the area include bass and flounder, and a small number of local boats still trawl for herring in the early winter.
Kilmuckridge contains a number of historical buildings as well as restaurants, guesthouses, pubs, and shops, and the popularity of the village as a tourist resort has encouraged much building and development in recent decades. This was largely fuelled by relatively affordable local property, amenities and improvements to the N11 road connecting County Wexford to Dublin, most of which is now a motorway.
Around 7 km from the village is a famous mansion called Wells House, which has extensive gardens, an animal farm, a cafe and a children's playground. Archery and falconry are also practised. It was opened to the general public in recent years and is popular with day visitors. It is found on the R741 road, near the small village of Ballyedmond and about 18 km south of Gorey. Wexford town is a further 26 km south.
Blackwater Golf Course is located about five kilometres from Kilmuckridge. This 2400-yard par-3 course is a major attraction for visitors.
Kilmuckridge is a good base to explore the rest of the region's attractions, which include the towns of Wexford, Gorey and Enniscorthy, and the historic villages of Blackwater, Curracloe, Boolavogue, Cahore, Ballygarrett and Courtown. Near Curracloe can be found the wildlife reserve of the North Slob, the forest area at Raven Point and Ballinesker beach, where Saving Private Ryan was partly filmed. Further afield, it is possible to take a scenic drive of the south coast and see its spectacular sights, such as Hook Head and Tintern Abbey. Glendalough, in the Wicklow mountains, is one hour from Kilmuckridge and makes a good day trip. The general area features on a driving route devised by a well-known hotel chain.
A prominent visitor to the area was the former Taoiseach Charles Haughey, who, during the peak years of his career in the 1980s, kept a holiday home overlooking the sea at Ballyduboy, about halfway between Morriscastle and Tinnaberna. With its distinctive angular modernist design, the house became a landmark for locals and is still referred to as Haughey's by fishermen. It has since changed hands.
The Oscar-winning singer-songwriter Markéta Irglová spent time in Kilmuckridge during her early career and discusses this in a 2009 interview with the Irish Times. Hollywood stars Steven Spielberg, Tom Hanks and others were occasionally seen locally during the filming of Saving Private Ryan in 1997. Other prominent people known to have holidayed in the area include author Roddy Doyle and football player Kenny Cunningham.
The village is in the civil parish of Kilmuckridge and in the Catholic parish of Litter (from the Irish language Leitir, meaning a hillside). On older maps, the village is sometimes referred to by its older name of Ford, or The Ford. The name Kilmuckridge originally referred to a small road junction about 1.5 km from the main village and site of the Church of Ireland church. This junction was previously the location of the village post office and it is said that when the post office was moved to The Ford, the latter placename gradually declined in use.
Morriscastle, as the name suggests, was once the site of a castle belonging to a prominent Gaelic family. This was located to the north of the current roadway, near the modern-day Morriscastle Village housing complex. Local legend tells that a tunnel once existed linking the castle to Ferns. The site was also used as a quarry in recent centuries. By the 19th century, this castle was in ruins, and it was demolished in 1936. It was succeeded by a later castle, owned by the Annesley family, the ruins of which can be seen to the south of the roadway.
Wells House has a history dating back to the 1600s.
While many of the village's traditional homesteads lie in ruins, a whitewashed thatched cottage can be found in the centre, opposite the Catholic church. This has been restored in recent years and is used as a family home.
The Catholic Church was built in 1796 and the Church of Ireland church dates from 1815. The graveyard next to the Church of Ireland church actually contains members of the Catholic Church, with a "sailor's hole" for the bodies of sailors washed ashore.
The village also has a historic graveyard at Killincooley with a well-known holy well. The historian Michael Fortune records that:
"Water from the well was used for cures for eye and wart problems. Water was taken from the well and placed in three little wart stones in the graveyards and on the warts in question. Nine Our Fathers, nine Hail Marys and nine Glory be to the Fathers were then said and this was done for nine days".
The memoir of McDonald (2009) recalls:
"in 1930 a very old person, who had a right to be buried there in a family grave, died, and when he was buried in the area near the well it was found that the bodies in the grave, which had been there for over thirty years, hadn’t decayed. Some very old people in the area were able to relate that their parents had mentioned years before that decomposition didn’t occur in a part of that cemetery."
It is believed that Kilmuckridge people played a prominent part in the 1798 rising, with one of its most prominent leaders being John Murphy of nearby Boolavogue. Local participants were said to have rendezvoused at a local site known as Hatter's Bridge before proceeding to battle at the Battle of Oulart Hill.
There are no listed shipwrecks off Morriscastle but several have occurred in the general area, most notably the clipper ship Pomona, which ran aground off Ballyconigar in 1859 while en route from Liverpool to New York and sank with the loss of nearly four hundred people, mostly Irish poor. Additionally, a 61-ton coal boat named the Lavinia was wrecked at Tinnaberna in 1915.
On the 14th of November, 1815, twenty-four local fishermen were lost in a storm, having sailed from Tinnaberna. The disaster is said to have left nineteen widows and would have had a significant long-term impact on the population of the small settlement which lay at Tinnaberna. The disaster was largely forgotten, commemorated mainly in a local ballad, but interest has revived due to the unveiling of a memorial plaque on the two-hundredth anniversary in 2015. Another well-known local ballad commemorates the 1885 rescue of a sailing ship, the Vivandiere, which had been abandoned by her crew and set adrift. The ship was boarded near Tinnaberna by local men, who later profited from its salvage.
The Tithe Applotment Books contain data for the parish of Kilmuckridge for the year 1833. Griffith's Valuation was completed for County Wexford in 1854, and data for Kilmuckridge can be found here. The 1901 Census holds details of households in the Kilmuckridge area. The village is found in the District Electoral Division of Ballyvaldon, and information may be found for its townlands, such as Tinnaberna and Ballynahask.
Around 1900, the village's tug o' war team achieved renown, and about which McDonald (2009) recalls: "The world champion tug of war team who won two years in succession, sometime in the early 1900s, came from Kilmuckridge. Their combined weight was something over 2 tons and they were all over 6 feet 6 inches in height. Two of them, the Mangan brothers, were also world champion weight lifters, holding the record for many years." Their story has been researched extensively in the work of local historians and numerous legends tell of their prowess. John Mangan died in 1916 aged just forty-four, and is buried in Killincooley.
A number of local men were prominent in the Irish republican movement, notably Laurence 'Lar' Redmond and Jim Brien, both of the Morriscastle area, who served in the Irish Republican Brotherhood. Redmond claimed to be a descendant of the famous John Murphy and was active in Enniscorthy in the 1916 Rising; having survived, he became prominent in Sinn Fein and served three months in prison in 1920 for fundraising. He was elected as a councillor in the district of Gorey. On 14 August 1920, he was part of a company of men that set fire to the Royal Irish Constabulary barracks on the road to Morriscastle. Although Redmond's recollection attests that the building was 'completely destroyed', the house has been restored over the years and is inhabited today. Redmond and his colleagues also set fire to the coast guard station at Morriscastle in July 1921. A local anecdote tells that many years later, some local men were injured in an explosion while working at Redmond's property due to a homemade explosive that Redmond had hidden. Redmond says that Jim Brien was 'killed at Rathdrum during the Black and Tan war'.
The lives of Redmond, Brien and their colleagues contrast with another prominent local man of the same era, Tom Ryan (1873-1958), who joined the British Army as a teenager and saw active service in South Africa, France and Palestine. Unusually for someone of humble origins, the son of a boot-maker, he rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and later joined the army of the Irish Free State. He was well-known and his father's funeral in 1920 was said to have been attended by fifteen priests and a very large cortege. He remained prominent in Wexford life and his love of his childhood home is evident in his poetry. As one local historian describes:
"Tom Ryan, like all poets and literary persons lived imaginatively, in a parallel universe that both represented and re-ordered his life experience: the homely places, the touching scenes and drama of his childhood memories of Tinnaberna. There is an ambiguity is the basic message of his poetry: it may be a means of providing an ethical rationale to his military career but conversely it may be that the stellar success of many of his playmates on the strand at Tinnaberna, and indeed his own success, are meant as mere adornments to his poetic wonder-world of Tinnaberna by the sea." 
During World War 2, the area saw three plane crashes. On 29 September 1940, an RAF Hawker Hurricane piloted by Pilot Officer Paul Mayhew crash-landed in the townland of Ballyvadden, having taken part in an aerial skirmish off the coast. The aircraft was one of eight sent from Pembrey, Wales to intercept a group of German bombers heading for Liverpool. In the battle, Mayhew downed a Heinkel He 111; as some Germans abandoned their mission and turned for home, Mayhew chased before getting lost and running too low on fuel to return to base. He was unhurt in the crash and was interned at The Curragh before escaping back to Britain and subsequently getting killed the following year. His Canadian-built aircraft was repaired, bought by the Irish Air Corps and flown until 1946. Of the German aircraft downed by Mayhew, the body of airman Franz Gunther washed ashore near Kilmuckridge and he was initially buried in the sailor's hole at the old graveyard, before later reinterment elsewhere.
In May 1941, a German Heinkel He 111 bomber crashed in the sea and sank near the Blackwater lightship, with two recorded fatalities. Two survivors came ashore in a liferaft and were treated hospitably by a local priest before their internment at The Curragh. In 1945, an American Martin Marauder aircraft crashed at Killenagh, with no fatalities.
Many historical photographs of the village can be seen in the local pubs, especially Joe Hammel's pub. The large shed next to this building, now painted red, was used as a cinema from the 1940s and retains many of its interior features, such as a sloping floor.
In December, 1995, the body of an unknown woman washed ashore at Ballinamona beach. Although some of her clothing suggested she was of French or Belgian origin, her identity was sadly never confirmed, and she remains interred near Wexford town.
Kilmuckridge’s local GAA club is Buffers Alley, which is shared with the neighbouring village of Monamolin and based at Ballinastraw. It is predominantly a hurling and camogie club but also fields teams in junior football.
Historically, the hurling team is one of Wexford’s most successful, and won an All-Ireland Club Championship title in 1989, becoming the first Wexford team to do so. As of 2012, the club has won twelve county senior hurling titles, all in a remarkable period from 1968 to 1992, with prominent players of the time including Tony Doran, Colm Doran, Mick Butler, Henry Butler, Tom Dempsey, Eamonn Sinnott and others. It has fallen on leaner times in recent decades, and suffered relegation in 2012 , before returning the following year.
Buffer's Alley's camogie team also has a history of success, winning the All-Ireland Senior Club Camogie Championship a remarkable five times in a six-year period from 1979 to 1984, jointly making it the competition's most successful team, until being surpassed some years later by St Paul's Camogie Club of Kilkenny.
The local soccer club is St Joseph’s, which is based at Grove Park in the centre of Kilmuckridge.
Since the 1960s, the village has had a strong involvement with competitive ploughing; several local ploughmen have received national and international awards in this arena.
The locality has some good routes for running, jogging and walking. These include a loop around Ballinlow lane (5.2 km), from the village to Morriscastle Beach (3.1 km), along the beach from Morriscastle to Tinnaberna (4.6 km) and from Tinnaberna to the village (4.4 km).
Prominent horse trainer Colm Murphy is based in nearby Killenagh, and has brought major success to the area through several major victories, notably Brave Inca’s win of the 2006 Champion Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
The village is located approximately 119 kilometres from central Dublin via the M11/N11 National Primary Route. The city's southern outskirts can be reached in around one hour by car. Trains can be caught at Gorey station, part of the national rail network.
A filling station is located in the centre of the village, with another in Ballyedmond.
Bus Éireann local route 379 serves the village and at the time of writing, this was on Mondays and Saturdays only. On Mondays there is a bus at 10.59am to Gorey and at 4.11pm to Wexford. On Saturdays there are buses to Wexford at 12.46pm and 4.52pm. There is also a bus to Gorey at 8.59am.
The village hosts the annual Kilmuckridge Drama Festival, a celebration of the performing arts which has been running since the 1950s. It is a certified festival of the Amateur Dramatic League of Ireland and groups from all over the country compete. In April 2015, the village successfully hosted the All-Ireland Confined Drama Finals.
- Ballywater Wind Farm
- List of towns and villages in Ireland
- Markéta Irglová
- Wexford Rebellion
- John Murphy (priest)
- Kilmuckridge (population centre) Placenames Database of Ireland. Retrieved: 2012-02-20.
- green+coast+beach+morriscastle Yahoo search results. Retrieved: 2012-02-20.
- Kilmuckridge (civil parish) Placenames Database of Ireland. Retrieved: 2012-02-20.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Kilmuckridge.|
- A remarkable local history project, professionally-prepared and detailing over 130 sites of historical interest
-  features some local photos
- Wexford Beach Awards site
- Damage to National Heritage Area
- Colm Murphy's home page
- interview with Markéta Irglová
- List of shipwrecks
- List of plane crashes
- Report on Buffer's Alley's relegation
- 1901 Census data for Kilmuckridge
- The Tithe Applotment Books