is the second-largest town in County Wexford
(town and environs population: 9,538 ). With a history going back to 465
, Enniscorthy is one of the longest continuously-occupied sites in Ireland.
It is situated on the River Slaney in the centre of the county, 24 km north of the county town, Wexford. The town lies on the N11 road (part of European route E1) from Dublin to Wexford. The N30 connects the town to New Ross and Waterford to the west. The town is situated at the tidal extreme of the river - which has gouged steep sides in surrounding rock over the millennia to create the distinctive hilly feel of the town.
Enniscorthy has a railway station on the Dublin–Wexford–Rosslare Europort railway line, giving access to seaports and airports.
"Enniscorthy" is an anglicization of the Irish "Inis Corthaidh" which means Island of Corthaidh. There is dispute as to whether Corthaidh is a version of the Irish word for Rocks or is a person's name.
History and places of interest
Enniscorthy Castle is an imposing Norman stronghold, which dates from 1205
and was a private dwelling until 1951
. 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
, whose maltreatment of his labourers gave rise to the English word "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. It is currently (2007) closed for refurbishment.
Vinegar Hill (Cnoc Fíodh na gCaor in Irish which translates as hill of the berry-tree, a pudding-shaped hill overlooking the town, was the largest camp and headquarters of the rebels of 1798 who controlled County Wexford for thirty days against vastly superior forces, before their defeat on June 21. However, many managed to flee south through a gap left in the British lines by General Needham (now known as Needham's Gap). During this time, Beauchamp Bagnell Harvey was declared as President of the Wexford Republic. The former Congregation of Christian Brothers monastery now houses a 1798 Visitor Centre which tracks the path to modern independence and the part the rebellion played.
National 1798 Visitor Centre
One of the most noted interactive museums in Ireland, the 1798 Visitor Centre is devoted to the 1798 Rising. Its history, European context and aftermath are all revisited using audio-visual technology. Highlights include a mock debate between the English Thomas Paine
and the Anglo-Irish Edmund Burke
and a reconstruction of the Rebellion as a game of chess with six-foot-chess pieces. For children, there's a 1798 themed play area and games presenting history as a game of chance.
Saint Aidan's Cathedral
Built in 1843, St. Aidan’s Cathedral, was designed by Augustus Welby Pugin who also designed London's Houses of Parliament. Pugin created the cathedral in the same Neogothic style. Notable features include the striking façade, a reredos carved from Caen stone and a great north window with intricate stone tracery. The cathedral was subsequently much renovated but restored to its original design in 1994 when authentic colours, materials and techniques were used. The restoration took a year, during which time cathedral services were held at St Mary's Church of Ireland church nearby..
, Enniscorthy patriots
again took their place in history
, when James Connolly
requested that the Enniscorthy Volunteers
take and hold the railway line
to prevent reinforcements
from reaching Dublin
. 600 Volunteers took the town, led by Robert Brennan, Seamus Doyle and J R Etchingham, they surrounded the police station
, but did not attempt to take it. The RIC barracks was held by a police inspector and five constables while an RIC sergeant and one constable prevented the rebels from taking over a bank in the town. They established headquarters
at the Athenaeum
, and held control until asked to surrender
by Padraig Pearse
The Volunteers also established a strong position on Vinegar Hill, overlooking the town. The railway line was cut and men dispatched to Gorey and Ferns. The government responded by sending a force of more than 1,000 men to retake Enniscorthy and the rebels retired to their positions on Vinegar Hill. Before hostilities could develop the news of the Dublin surrender arrived, but the Volunteers refused to believe it. The army commander, Col FA French, was a Wexford man and in order to avoid bloodshed he offered a safe conduct for the Wexford leaders so that they could go to Dublin and hear of the surrender directly from Pearse. There were no fatalities.
Festivals in Enniscorthy
The Strawberry Fair
The Strawberry Fair is an annual event, which takes place in the last week of June. It consists of amusements in Bellfield, live bands and the crowning of the Strawberry Queen in the square.
The Blackstairs Blues festival is an annual event, now in its twelfth year. The festival includes international and local performers, in a variety of late night concerts and open workshops. The festival includes a free pub trail and late night festival club.
Enniscorthy is situated by the River Slaney
, and has short walks beside it to the north and to the south, on the west bank. It is the cathedral
town of the Diosese of Ferns
and has two Catholic
churches spread over two parishes - the parish of St. Aidans and the older parish of St Senans, under the shadow of Vinegar Hill. The town also comprises a Church of Ireland, a joint Methodist
church, a Society of Friends meeting hall, and a Masonic Lodge
. There is a multiplex cinema
, a swimming pool/recreation centre, several sports grounds and several recently built hotels
. Surrounding the town, there is an 18-hole golf course, several pitch and putts, freshwater fishing, and a five-star spa Monart is just beside "The Still Pond". The town also boasts several historical sites and museums
Enniscorthy is mentioned in the Ithaca
chapter of James Joyce's Ulysses
(p. 812) as a flyleaf note in a book belonging to Leopold Bloom, where it is described as "Ennifcorthy, County Wicklow
, the finest place in the world" (sic).
Enniscorthy railway station
opened on 16 November 1863
George Killian's Red
Enniscorthy was the location of a regional microbrewery opened in 1864 and owned by the ancestors of George Killian Lett. During their operation Killian's ale
was sold almost entirely in Wexford county. Lett's Brewery
still operates today, but no longer brews its own products. They now focus on wholesale to shops, bars and hotels.
Carley's Bridge Pottery is one of Ireland's oldest potteries, having made earthen pots for over three hundred years. Paddy Murphy was also an Enniscorthy potter and in 1980 founded Hill View pottery adjacent to his home and close to Carley's Bridge Pottery. The cul-de-dac "Potters' Way" is named after for him - as he would walk that route to his home. Since his passing the Hill View pottery has been taken over by his relation Derek O'Rourke.