Now known as a fishing village and holiday resort, in past times Fethard was a place of some importance. It was the site of Norman landings in the 12th century, and the remains of Norman-era earthworks and fortifications may be seen at Baginbun Bay, south of Ingard Point.
A 12th-century castle was built by Raymond le Gros, which passed to the Bishop of Ferns and was used as an episcopal residence. There is little evidence of the castle today. Alexander Devereux (the 16th century bishop of Ferns and Abbot of Dunbrody) is buried in St Mogue's Church (Church of Ireland)
Fethard was granted a charter by James I, and became a municipal borough, sending 2 members to the Irish parliament, before its dissolution. In 1798 a harbour was built and was a landing site for French troops during the revolutionary wars.
In modern times the main industries have been fishing and tourism. The village has a population of 253. It lies in the electoral district of Fethard in the constituency of County Wexford. It is bordered by the districts of Bannow and Ballyhack.
A parish in the Catholic diocese of Ferns, Fethard is bordered by the parishes of Templetown and Poulfur.
In May 1957, Fethard-on-Sea found itself embroiled in controversy related to the Ne Temere decree. A Roman Catholic priest, Father Stafford and his parishioners started a boycott of Protestant-owned local businesses; a Protestant music teacher lost 12 of her 13 pupils, and the Catholic teacher of the local Protestant school was forced to resign. The boycott was in response to the actions of a Protestant woman, Sheila Kelly Cloney. Mrs. Cloney had left both her Catholic husband, Sean Cloney, and the village, taking her two daughters, rather than sending them to the local National (Catholic) School as Father Stafford demanded. The boycott received national and international coverage through the summer (some TDs regarded this as a case of kidnapping), before ending that autumn. Sean Cloney himself was boycotted as he continued to frequent the Protestant shops Eventually the family was reconciled, with the daughters being home-schooled and not attending their parents' churches.
Tim Fanning's brilliant account of the boycott of Protestants by Catholics in the village of Fethard-on-Sea in Co Wexford in 1957 is a window into a different world. The past is indeed a foreign country, where they did things very differently.
Apr 10, 2010; When HATE-FILLED BIGOTS forced a MOTHER TO FLEE A notorious boycott is revisited in a new book, writes John Spain Tim Fanning's...
A Love, a Family and a Nation Divided; PASTTENSE; in 1950s Wexford, One Woman's Decision to Stand Up to the Catholic Church Led to a Row Which Made Headlines around the World. Here, in an Extract from His New Book, Tim Fanning Recalls the Lasting Bitterness of the Fethard-on-Sea Boycott
Apr 03, 2010; Byline: Tim Fanning A s they gaze into the camera, smiling slightly, the young man and woman could be any young couple on their...