WEXFORD CASTLES & ABBEYS
With its rich medieval heritage, Ferns Castle played a significant role in shaping Ireland as it is today. The 12th century King Diarmuid MacMurrough, set off from Ferns to seek help in retaining power and returned in 1169 with the Normans. Walk in the footsteps of medieval and Christian history, Ferns plays testament to its title of ‘Ancient Capital of Leinster”.
The present castle site can be dated to circa 1220 meaning it was built during the period of the Norman Marshall family control of Ferns. The castle was lost back to the Kavanaghs in 1360 until 1540, after that it was staffed by a succession of English Governors. Only half of the castle now remains, with the most complete tower containing a fine circular chapel. The tower also has several spectacularly intact original features including original fireplace and a vaulted basement.
In the Visitors’ Centre, see the Ferns Tapestry Project, where 25 panels depict the story of Ferns in stitch work. This intricate artwork is on permanent display annually from the end of May until the end of September.
Follow the footsteps of Anglo-Norman Knights, Gaelic Irish Kings and Elizabethan Adventurers as you uncover the story of Enniscorthy Castle.
Explore the development of the Castle and town from its earliest Anglo-Norman origins up until its use as a family home in the early 20th century through the exhibitions. Including areas dedicated to the 1916 Rising in Enniscorthy, as well as the work of the Irish furniture designer and architect Eileen Gray.
See the spectacular view from the castle roof, one of the few Irish Castles to allow this. Go into to the deeps of the dungeon and see Ireland’s rarest wall art which depicts a medieval soldier who was imprisoned in the dungeons over 400 years ago.
The majestic Ballyhack Castle overlooks the Waterford estuary. The castle, a large tower house, is thought to have been built c.1450 by the Knights Hospitallers of St. John, one of the two great military orders founded at the beginning of the 12th century, during the time of the Crusades.
Dunbrody Abbey was founded on the instructions of Strongbow, the 2nd Earl of Pembroke, and built in the late 12th century. The largest of its kind in Ireland, Dunbrody Abbey is one of the finest examples of a Cistercian Abbey still standing in Ireland today. It flourished as a Cistercian monastery until the dissolution of the monasteries under Henry VII. The visitor centre hosts a hedge maze made with 1500 yew trees, a craft gallery with the Dunbrody Castle Doll’s House, tea rooms and a pitch and putt course.
Selskar Abbey is a ruined medieval abbey that stands in the heart of Wexford town, abutting directly onto the old town walls and are one of Wexford’s most significant medieval ruins. The original abbey was built in the 1100s; however various sources suggest that the area was home to an earlier Christian site, likely pre-dating the arrival of the Vikings in 800AD. The curving line of the adjacent streets may be reflecting the circular enclosure of a much earlier “Celtic” monastery.
The complex, which is part of the Westgate Heritage Tower, was the location where the first Anglo-Irish treaty was signed. In 1172, Henry II also spent Lent at the abbey, as he did penance for having Thomas Becket beheaded. After years of suppression, the abbey was destroyed by Oliver Cromwell in 1649.
The present Protestant church was built in 1818.
On the road to the Hook Peninsula, Tintern Abbey is a magnificent 17th century abbey and home to Colclough Walled Gardens and a variety of scenic walking trails.
Tintern Abbey was founded by Cistercian monks after 1200, under the patronage of William Marshall, on a small river that flows into Bannow Bay and named after Tintern in Wales. After its dissolution in 1536 its lands were granted to Sir Anthony Colclough in 1562. The Colclough family, who lived there for the next 400 years, modified the abbey and built many structures down through the years around the abbey, including bridges, a linen mill, a flour mill, battlement walls and the Georgian Walled Garden. The remains now consist of nave, chancel, tower, chapel and cloister, enough for visitors to imagine the magnificent abbey which once stood on this site.
Four different walking trails of varying lengths (from 0.7km to 7.00km) meander through woodland and by the river, and are perfect for exploring on foot or by bike. Tintern Abbey is also home to the enchanting Colclough Walled Gardens, a beautifully restored Georgian Walled Garden built 520 metres south west from Tintern Abbey. The original layout of the Walled Garden has been reinstated as it was in the 1830’s through the hard work and dedication of Hook Tourism volunteers since 2010. The 2.5 acres Walled Garden is split into two sections, east (Ornamental) and west (Kitchen), with a river, crossed by 5 bridges, which flows through the length of the Walled Garden.
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