Tour Cost: €60 per Adult and €40 for under 16. Cost includes all admissions to historic sites, museums and centres. (Food and beverages excluded)
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Our departure point for the exploration of South Wexford’s wealth of early Norman history and the Nineteenth Century famine and emigrant story is the ancient Viking city of Wexford. Sitting on the broad and lovely Slaney estuary this town of spires and music has its own fascinating and at times tragic history stretching back twelve hundred years and beyond. In that time it has suffered siege and conquest by Viking Gael and Norman and most famously and bloodily by Cromwell. The unique medieval character of the town and the famously friendly locals make it a wonderful base to strike out from into the Model County.
Our first stop is a mile up from the quaint village of Wellington Bridge which sits aside the Bannow River. We will stand on the spot on the beach of Bannow of Bay where in 1169 three Norman ships laden with soldiers and horses made landfall for the first time and would change utterly the destiny of our Island.
Pushing on we will see Clonmines the finest example of the deserted medieval borough in Ireland with the remains of Abbeys, churches, its once proverbial seven castles and a rattling good love story on top to finish it off.
Tintern Abbey may lie only hundred yards off the road but there is a special atmosphere around these lovely Cistercian ruins. After the dissolution of the monasteries the house came into the possession of the Colcough family, a name famously associated with the 1798 Rising. The OPW has lovingly restored parts of the structure and your are sure to be fascinated by their excellent guided tour of the works.
A few yards from the Abbey we will enjoy what is without doubt one of the little known gems of the county. A local group of volunteers have restored the Victorian flower and kitchen gardens that would have supplied the Big House and will conduct us around the gardens with commentary rich in social history and a bit of horticulture too for the green fingered.
Now we head on to the far corner of Ireland, the wild and beautiful Hook Head Peninsula. We will stop to at Bagibun to see the unlikely spot where Raymond le Gros and a mere eighty Knights would land in May of 1170 and go on to hold most of the south county.
We will see and hear the story of the imposing Loftus Hall. Once home to the great Redmond family and now it is reputed to be the most haunted house in Ireland. Next door to the Hall stands what the Lonely Planet Guide describes as the granddaddy of lighthouses and number one on its list of great lights of the world. Standing on foundations eight hundred years old the Hook light house is the oldest working in the world safeguarding shipping bound for New Ross or Waterford.
Oh and if you were wondering, yes the Hook stands across the water from a village in Waterford called Crook. We complete our tour of the peninsula with a stop in Templetown home to the lovely ruins of a fortified church built in 1340 on the sight of an older Templar chapel. The knights Templar were granted extensive lands around the Hook by Henry the Second and had its Irish HQ nearby in Kilcloggan.
Our final destination is Duncannon Fort. Built in 1588 and continually expanded the fort has played a major role in The Nine Years War, the Wars of the Confederacy, the Cromwellian war and right up to 1798 and the Napoleonic Wars. Today it offers an excellent tour of the fort and a wonderful guided exhibition on the reality of trench life during the Great War.