Kilmore Quay , County Wexford

The picturesque fishing village of Kilmore is situated on the Southern coast of Wexford and is a must see on your Ireland tours. It takes its name from the Christian tradition , in Irish An Chill Mhor (‘the large church-cell’) , and is home to the singing of a unique selection of Christmas carols.

The words of these carols are in English , while the airs resemble singing styles in the Irish language. This in fact reflects the cultural history of the area , where a dialect of English was spoken from the Middle Ages but was heavily influenced by the indigenous Irish language and its lore.

The singing of such carols was very rare in Ireland , and in County Wexford it dates to the 17th century and to the influence of two gentle clergymen working for impoverished communities.

The earlier of the two , Fr Luke Wadding , belonged to an illustrious Catholic family of Wexford , who lost their lands in the Cromwellian confiscation. Having been ordained to the priesthood overseas in Salamanca ,

Fr Lukewas appointed parish priest of New Ross in 1673 and became Bishop of Ferris in 1683. In the following year he published in Ghent a collection of carols entitled Smale Garland.

The second was Fr William Devereux , who became a priest in Salamanca a generation later. After his return to Ireland in 1728 , Fr Devereux compiled a Garland of carols , which included some of Fr Luke’s work and added much more.

Many copies of this Garland circulated in manuscript , and the carols from it were sung in many churches in South Wexford. The custom survives in Kilmore Quay only. Alternative verses are sung by two groups of three men , and the full-throated and rhythmic performance , on a crisp Christmas morning , evokes a distinctive spiritual and aesthetic sense.

To visit this picturesque town and experience these unique carols contact us now to organise a visit on your Ireland tours.