Last Updated: 29th July, 2018
Dunbrody Abbey was founded in 1170 on the instructions of Strongbow, by Herve de Montmorency (his uncle), after the Norman invasion of Ireland. It was completed circa 1220, but additions may have continued for some time. Herve de Montmorency made a grant of the lands to the monks of Bildewas in Shropshire (England), on condition that they should build the Abbey, for some monks of the Cistercian, or White Order (they wore white robes), and upon condition that there should be a Sanctuary in the Abbey for all malefactors. Dedicated to "St. Mary the ever Blessed Virgin, and St. Benedict" it has sometimes been called the Abbey of St. Mary de Port, for the refuge it contained by the express condition of its founder.
Duncannon Fort is a star shaped fortress on an important promontory in Waterford Harbour. It was built in 1588 in the expectation of an attack on the area by the Spanish Armada. The Fort is surrounded by a 30 ft high dry moat and has one of the oldest lighthouses of its kind in Ireland. All the major buildings in the Fort surround a parade ground. A walk around the outer ramparts afford spectacular views across the estuary to Co. Waterford and down to Hook Head. An added attraction is the Maritime Museum which charts the maritime history of one of the most dangerous coastlines in Ireland, the Wexford coast.
Enniscorthy Castle is an imposing Norman stronghold, which dates from 1205 and was a private dwelling until 1951. The castle was built by the DePrendergast's. The poet Edmund Spencer lived in the castle for a period and it is said that Queen Elizabeth I gave him the castle because of all the good things he said about her in the poem "The Faerie Queene". The Castle was also once owned by Sir Henry Wallop. The castle was the site of many fierce battles during the Cromwellian years and also the 1798 Rising. The castle houses the Wexford County Museum, which contains extensive 1798 rebellion-related material, as well as items of local and agricultural interest.
Ferns Castle, an Anglo-Norman fortress, was built in the 13th century by William, Earl Marshall. Today about half of the castle still stands. The town also contains the 13th-century St Edan's Cathedral (Church of Ireland) and several high crosses and parts of crosses. The 19th century population peaked in 1851, but may never reached the levels of medieval times. Ferns is believed to have been established in the 6th century, when a monastery was founded in 598 dedicated to St Mogue of Clonmore who was a Bishop of Ferns. The town became the capital of the Kingdom of Leinster when the kings of that southern part of the province established their seat of power there. King Dermot MacMurrough founded St. Mary's Abbey as house of Augustinian canons c. 1158 and was buried there in 1171
Ferrycarrig Castle, one of the earliest Norman castles to be built in the country and the first Norman stronghold in Ireland. The castle, erected by Robert FitzStephen in 1169 and excavations so far, indicate extensive occupation during the 13th century. An 18th century tower can be found on the south bank of the river it was erected by relatives and friends of Co. Wexford soldiers who fell in the Crimean War (1854-56). The Earl of Carlisle, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, laid the first stone at Ferrycarrig in July 1858. Taking the form of an Irish round tower, it stands 85ft and is located 9ft above ground level.
The harmony between great Victorian revival castles and their surrounding ornamental grounds is rarely seen to such perfection as at Johnstown Castle. The mature woodlands and lakes of this demesne provide the perfect setting for this turreted, battlemented and castle of gleaming silver-grey , built for the Grogan-Morgan family between 1810 and 1855 and incorporating part of a more ancient castle. The property was presented as a gift to the Irish Nation in 1945 and was later occupied by the Department of Agriculture who established an agricultural institute here and undertook to maintain but not to alter the ornamental grounds.
Slade Castle, Co Wexford, the building comprises a tower house built in the late fifteenth or early sixteenth century, and an attached two-storey hall of slightly later date. The tower, standing 56 feet high and gracefully tapered, contains a mural stair in the south-east angle and barrel vaults over the second and fifth floors; above the latter rises a turret accommodating the stair head, a small apartment and the base of what was once a tall chimney-stack.
Ballyhack Castle is a large tower house built in 1450 by the Knights Hospitallers of St. John a military order of the twelfth century at the time of the Crusades. Ballyhack Castle built of conglomerate Old Red sandstone (the local rock type), originally stood five storeys high. Tours of the Castle take 40 minutes.
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