WEXFORD

From Atlas and Cyclopedia of Ireland (1900)

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Description of County Wexford | Vinegar Hill | St. Peter's College | Johnstown Castle | Wexford Map

NAME.—The name Wexford is Danish; the old form is Weis-fiord. The Gaelic name is Loch-Garman.

SIZE AND POPULATION.—Length from Hook Head to the boundary near Coolgreany, 55 miles; breadth from New Ross to Carnsore Point., 29 miles; breadth from Mt. Leinster to the coast near Blackwater, 23 miles; area, 901 square miles; population, 123,854.

SURFACE.—The northwest margin has a grand mountain fringe. On the northern frontier, the Wicklow Mountains subsiding toward the south, send spurs and offshoots into Wexford. A series of high lands begin a little southeast of New Ross in the west, and run northeast toward Enniscorthy. A district running from Croghan Kinsella toward the southwest to Slieveboy is all hilly. The southeast angle of the county, namely, the two baronies of Forth and Bargy, terminating in Carnsore Point, is a dead level, guarded on the northwest by a small mountain knot. The rest of the county, constituting far the greater part, is a plain, diversified by ridges and isolated hills.

MOUNTAINS AND HILLS.—Between Wexford and Carlow run the ranges of Mount Leinster (2,610) and Blackstairs (2,409), separated by Scullogue Gap, which have been described in Carlow. Black Rock Mountain (1,972), 2 miles east of Mount Leinster, lies wholly in Wexford. In the north the conspicuous Croghan Kinsella (1,987) lies on the boundary with Wicklow. Southwest of this is Annagh Hill (1,498); and still further southwest Slieveboy (1,385)—5 miles north of Ferns—is the terminating spur of these hills. Tara Hill (826), which stands quite detached near the coast 3 miles northeast of Gorey, is very conspicuous, and commands a fine view. Forth Mountain (776), a long ridgy hill beginning 2 miles from Wexford, and extending about 4 miles toward the southwest, is a sort of barrier separating the two level baronies of Forth and Bargy from the rest of the county.

COAST LINE.—The coast is low, and for the most part sandy, interrupted in a few places by fringes of rock; it is unbroken from Kilmichael Point to the Raven Point; but from this to Waterford Harbor it is much indented by inlets.

HEADLANDS.—Kilmichael Point in the north—only slightly projecting—marks the beginning of the Wexford coast. Roney Point, Glascarrig Point, and Cahore Point can hardly be called headlands. The Raven Point and Rosslare Point, which stand at opposite sides of the entrance to Wexford Harbor, are at the extremities of two long sandy peninsulas. Greenore Point is at the southern extremity of the open Bay of Wexford; and Carnsore Point marks the sudden and final turn of the coast to the west. West of this is Crossfarnoge or Forlorn Point. Clammers Point, scarped and rocky, but low, and Baginbun Head, are at the opposite sides of the entrance of Bannow Bay. Hook Head is the end of the long, rock-fringed peninsula of Hook, which defines Waterford Harbor on the east; at the point is the ancient Tower of Hook, now converted into a lighthouse.

ISLANDS.—In Lady's Island Bay, near Carnsore Point, are the two little islets, Inish and Lady's Island, the latter containing the ruins of a castle built by one of the Anglo-Norman adventurers. In Tacumshin inlet, west of this, is the low sandy islet of Sigginstown. Immediately south of Crossfarnoge Point are the Saltee Islands, consisting of Great Saltee, a little more than a mile in length, and the Little Saltee, three-quarters of a mile. In Ballyteige Bay are the Keeragh Islands, a rocky reef, low and dangerous. Bannow Island, a mile in length, lies just inside the entrance of Bannow Bay; on the mainland shore opposite it is the old buried town of Bannow, which has been quite covered up by the sand within the last 200 years. Five miles east-southeast of Greenore Point is the Tuskar Rock, a well-known dangerous reef, the scene of many shipwrecks, now marked by a lighthouse.

BAYS AND HARBORS.—Wexford Harbor, at the mouth of the Slaney, is large and sheltered, but shallow and sandy. Outside this, between Rosslare Point and Greenore Point, is Wexford Bay. The remaining inlets are all on the south coast. Lady's Island Lake and Tacumshin Lake lie near Carnsore Point. Ballyteige Bay is broad and open. Bannow Bay east of the peninsula of Hook is long, narrow, and sandy. Waterford Harbor separates Wexford from Waterford.

RIVERS.—The Barrow first touches Wexford at the mouth of the Pollmounty River; and the western boundary is formed first by this river and afterward by the united waters of the Barrow, the Suir, and the Nore; the whole distance from the mouth of the Pollmounty River to Hook Head is about 81 miles. The following are the Wexford tributaries of the Barrow and the Suir. One of the head streams of the Mountain River (which joins the Barrow near Borris, in Carlow) rises in Wexford, and runs into Carlow through Scullogue Gap (where it is called the Aughnabrisky). A little further south the Drummin River rises in Wexford, but soon enters Carlow. The Pollmounty River joins the Barrow 5 miles in a straight line above New Ross, forming for the last mile of its course the boundary between Wexford and Carlow.

The Slaney, from the point where it first touches Wexford to Newtownbarry, a distance of 3 miles, separates Carlow from Wexford; it enters Wexford at Newtownbarry, and flows through this county for the rest of its course to Wexford Harbor. The following are the tributaries of the Slaney belonging wholly or partly to Wexford. On the right or western bank, the Clody rises in Mount Leinster, and joins the Slaney at Newtownbarry. South of this is the Glasha, flowing from Black Rock Mountain. The Urrin rises on the east slope of Mt. Leinster, flows southeast, and joins half a mile below Enniscorthy. The Boro rises in Blackstairs Mountain, and falls into the Slaney 2 ½ miles below Enniscorthy; it has for tributaries the Miltown Stream on the left bank, and the Aughnaglaur on the right bank. On the right bank the Slaney is joined by the Derry River, which, coming from Wicklow, forms the boundary between Wexford and Wicklow for the last 3 miles of its course, and joins 2 miles in a straight line above Newtownbarry. The Bann rises in the southern slopes of Croghan Kinsella, flows south-southwest, and joins 4 miles above Enniscorthy; about the middle of its course it is itself joined on the right bank by the Lask. The Sow rises near Ballaghkeen, and falls into Wexford Harbor.

The following rivers fall into the sea. In the north the Clonough River. The Owenavorragh rises near Oulart, flows northward, and then turning east, enters the sea east of Gorey. The Owenduff and the Corock run southward into the head of Bannow Bay.

TOWNS.—Wexford (12,163), the assize town, on the shore of Wexford Harbor, was the first place of any consequence taken by the Anglo-Normans in the reign of Henry II. Enniscorthy (5,666) is situated on the slope of a steep hill which rises over the Slaney; in the town is the ruin of a very fine Anglo-Norman castle, originally built by Raymond le Gros, and also some abbey ruins. Higher up on the Slaney is the pretty little town of Newtownbarry (960), situated in a wooded valley traversed by the river. On the western side of the county is New Ross (6,670, of whom 295 are in that part of the town belonging to Kilkenny), in a beautiful situation on the Barrow; it is the second town of the county, and has considerable trade by the Barrow. The village of Duncannon (479) is situated on the shore of Waterford Harbor; and near it, on a rocky headland over the river, is a strong military fort with a lighthouse. In the northeast of the county, three miles from the seashore, is Gorey (2,450). Three-quarters of a mile from the shore of the Bann is the ancient episcopal town of Ferns (495), which derived its origin from a church founded there in the 6th century by the celebrated St. Aidan, or Maidoc, its first bishop, on a site granted to him by Branduff, king of Leinster.

MINERALS.—Copper ore is found at Kerloge, a little south of the town of Wexford; and lead ore at Cairn, northwest of Enniscorthy. Silver was in former times raised at Clonmines, at the head of Bannow Bay, and the ancient mines are still to be seen.

ANCIENT DIVISIONS AND DESIGNATIONS.—The descendants of Enna Kinsella, king of Leinster in the 4th century, were called Hy Kinsella, and gave their name to a large territory in Leinster, which included a great portion of Wexford; the name of this old district is still preserved by the mountain Croghan Kinsella. The southern Hy Felimy, who after the 10th century took the family name of O'Murcada (now Murphy), were seated in the present barony of Ballaghkeen (see Carlow, for the northern Hy Felimy). The barony of Forth preserves the name of the old territory of Fotharta, for which see Carlow.

Description of County Wexford | Vinegar Hill | St. Peter's College | Johnstown Castle | Wexford Map

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