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Owing to its strategic position across St George’s Channel from south Wales, the south-east of Ireland is one of the country’s most colonised areas. The Vikings founded Ireland’s first major towns on the River Slaney and the Anglo Normans also had a big say on the way the region developed, building castles across County Wexford and neighbouring County Kilkenny.
Reminders of the county’s Viking and Norman past are revealed in the meandering lanes off Main Street in Wexford. The Bull Ring was originally a beach that took delivery of the town’s provisions before becoming a bull-baiting venue. Nearby, St Iberius’ Church is worth visiting for its superb Georgian interior and acoustics.
The fascinating past of the county’s second biggest town, Enniscorthy, is inextricably tied to the famous 18th century Irish uprising against British rule. The compelling story is retold at the National 1798 Rebellion Centre, its exhibits chronicling Wexford’s failed efforts to free itself. Most of the events unfolded on nearby Vinegar Hill, while Enniscorthy Castle was used as a prison by the rebels – today it is home to a museum.
The beautiful Hook Peninsula is best explored by car. The Ring of Hook coastal drive takes in secluded beaches, historic ruins and fine seafood restaurants, while the world’s oldest working lighthouse can be found at the tip of the peninsula. Built in the 13th century, a tour will take you to its top via 115 steps. Other sights include ghostly Loftus Hall and secluded Tintern Abbey.
Ireland’s largest bird sanctuary, the Saltee Islands, can be enjoyed from Kilmore Quay while a fantastic Blue Flag beach can be found at Rosslare. The village of Carne is home to another fine stretch of sand and is a great place to sample some of the best seafood in Ireland.
The treacherous journey across the Atlantic Ocean to America, undertaken by a generation of Irish in the wake of the 1840s potato famine, can be relived with a visit to the Dunbrody Famine Ship, docked on the waterfront in New Ross.
Johnstown Castle and Gardens, near Wexford, is the site of a striking 19th century house, lovely wooded gardens and the Irish Agricultural Museum, while more than 9,000 years of history are packed into the Irish National Heritage Park in Ferrycarrig.
Located in Dunganstown, the Kennedy Homestead is the birthplace of Patrick Kennedy, great-grandfather of one of America’s most revered presidents. John F Kennedy paid a visit to the farm in 1963 and, today, the outbuildings house exhibits examining the family’s history on both sides of the Atlantic. JFK is also honoured at an idyllic arboretum just over a mile away.
Situated in Wexford, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Wexford Opera House and Selskar Abbey. Westgate Tower and Wexford General Hospital are also within 2 miles (3 km).
Situated in Wexford, this spa hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Selskar Abbey, Westgate Tower and Wexford Opera House. Wexford General Hospital and Glengary Links are also within 1 mile (2 km).
This family-friendly Wexford hotel is located in the suburbs, within 2 mi (3 km) of Irish National Heritage Park and Wexford General Hospital. Glengary Links and Westgate Tower are also within 3 miles (5 km).
This family-friendly Enniscorthy hotel is located on the riverfront, within a 15-minute walk of National 1798 Centre and Enniscorthy Castle. Ferns Castle is 7.5 mi (12 km) away.
Set in Gorey, this family-friendly hotel is within 16 mi (25 km) of Ferns Castle, Morriscastle Beach and Bridgewater Shopping Centre. Tinahely Courthouse Arts Centre and Coollattin Golf Club are also within 16 miles (25 km).
This family-friendly Ferrycarrig hotel is located on the riverfront, within 2 mi (3 km) of Irish National Heritage Park and Glengary Links. Westgate Tower and Selskar Abbey are also within 3 miles (5 km).
Situated in New Ross, this spa hotel is within 1 mile (2 km) of Dunbrody Emigrant Ship and St Mary's Abbey. Kennedy Homestead and John F. Kennedy Arboretum are also within 9 miles (15 km).
This family-friendly Gorey hotel is located in a rural location, 5.1 mi (8.2 km) from Craanford Mills, and within 12 mi (20 km) of Bridgewater Shopping Centre and Ferns Castle. Morriscastle Beach and Tinahely Courthouse Arts Centre are also within 16 miles (25 km).