05 Feb Wexford , County Wexford
Narrow streets only 12ft wide in places – a legacy of Viking times – are crammed along Wexford’s waterfront , where the quays tell of the times when the town was a busy port. But the harbour silted up in the late 19th century and Wexford lost its trade to Waterford. The quaysides are wooden still , and are dominated by a statue of Commodore John Barry (1745-1803) , a local man who became a founding father of the United States Navy and led naval operations in the American War of Independence in 1776.
Its narrow streets apart , there are relatively few reminders of Wexford’s historic past , which includes the Norman invasion of 1170 and the sacking of the town in 1649 by Oliver Cromwell. Rising above the roofs of Abbey Street is the sandstone tower of the 12th century Selskar Abbey , where Henry II spent six weeks of penance in Lent 1172 , for his connivance in the murder of St Thomas Becket. In Cornmarket there is a section of the town’s 13th century wall , and close by is the original Westgate. In the town centre is the 1760 Protestant St Iberius Church , a fine Georgian building on the site of the church founded by St Ibar , the oldest in Ireland.
Wexford also boasts an opera house , which was once a row of three cottages , but now hosts the international Wexford Opera Festival , at which celebrities such as Dame Janet Baker have performed.
Wexford boasts a rich history and is a must see on your tours of Ireland.