To many of the local people Wexford is its Main Street. At about a mile long the street is crammed with shops, bars and restaurants. It is a place to meet friends and talk for hours. At about its half way mark is the Bullring. Unique to Wexford, it was the location of the medieval market place. It got its name from the sport of Bull Baiting, popular in the town from 1641 to the end of the 18th century. In the middle of the square stands the Pikeman, a bronze statue in memory of the Wexford men who fought and died in the Rebellion of 1798.
A short walk brings you to the wonderful promenade of Wexford Quay. The mussel boats and trawlers sail daily into the harbour bringing back fresh fish to Wexford’s restaurants. At the quayside you will also find the Tourist Office. From here Wexford Walking Tours start their daily trips around the town (€4; 11am Mar-Oct). The 90 minute tour incorporates the medieval town wall, the Viking lanes, and Wexford’s twin churches. You will also discover the homes of many prominent Wexford people, including Jane Elgee, the mother of Oscar Wilde, the opera composer William Balfe, and the mother of Thomas Moore, composer of Moore’s Irish Melodies. Wexford Opera House is another place on your route. Make sure to drop in and check out what’s on.
For lunch you will find over 50 places to eat. You might like to try the popular restaurant in the Arts Centre in Cornmarket. Situated near the town wall in the medieval market, it was once a market house. The Centre usually has an exhibition showing and often has plays or concerts going on in the evening. Another great food option is the Sky View cafe in the opera house. Wexford Opera Festival takes place each October and hosts singers, musicians and audiences from around the world. There are tours available, just give them a ring. From the restaurant there are panoramic views of Wexford Harbour.
At 3pm each day there is a tour of the medieval Selskar Abbey (€3). Built by the Anglo-Normans in 1190, the ruins of this abbey contain a 12th century church, a 14th century tower, and an Anglican church built in 1826. There is a medieval sarcophagus hidden close to the town wall. Also there is the grave of Dorcas Mc Gee, the mother of Thomas D’Arcy McGee, Irish Patriot and a founding father of the Canadian Federal government.
Just outside the town and not far from Selskar Abbey, is the beautiful Redmond Park. Dedicated to the memory of Major Willie Redmond, brother of John Edward Redmond MP, it has a children’s playground and picnic area. Another place just outside the town is the fantastic Irish National Heritage Park (adult/senior citizen & student/child €9/7/4; 9.30-6.30 Apr-Sep, 9.30am-5.30pm Oct-Mar). Covering 35 acres, the park contains sixteen archaeologically accurate recreations of sites that illustrate 9000 years of Irish life. The costumed guides take you into a Viking house, an early medieval monastery, a fortified artificial island and a bunch of other places that provide a glimpse of what it must have been like to live in ancient Ireland.
If you are in any way interested in birds then you should definitely visit the Wexford Wildfowl Reserve (guided tours on request; 9am-5pm). Even if you don’t, you should go anyway. It’s a beautiful place. Known locally as the Slobs (the name is derived from the Irish for mud, slab), the reserve contains 10,000 Greenland White-fronted Geese, 2,000 Pale-bellied Brent Geese, 600 Whooper Swans, 31 varieties of duck and 42 variety of waders. There is also a seal colony, otters, red squirrels, five species of bats… well, you get the idea!
Finish your day with dinner in any of the town’s hotels and restaurants, or fit in a free tour of St. Iberius church on the Main St. There has been a church on this site since Viking times. Today, it is an Anglican church dedicated to St Ibar, the patron saint of Wexford town. Inside are many fine military memorials. After this, check out the Trad Trail to see what music sessions are on (brochure in Tourist Office).