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Ireland’s Ancient East

We’re delighted to be part of Ireland’s Ancient East. Come listen to our stories and get to know our soul! North Wexford – and Ireland’s Ancient East – pulsates with stories. Come and get to know us – we live it, you’ll love it!

Ár mBréacha House of Storytelling

Storytelling has enjoyed a renaissance in County Wexford. 

Ár mBréacha House of Storytelling, Raheen, Ballyduff, Camolin runs on the first Tuesday of each month.

You are invited to tell your story, sing your song, and listen to the stories, songs and experiences of other guests.

No admission. All welcome

 

Bygone Days Storytelling House

This original thatched house of well over 200 years in Oulart, with a big welcoming open fire and no electricity hosts story-telling sessions on the second Monday of every month, 8pm-11pm.

It has stood more or less in its present form since the 1798 Rebellion and was lived in up until 1992. It was restored in 1995 – 1996 to its original form.

Local man John Dempsey is the resourceful Fear a’ ‘Tí  for story telling events.

Ferns

Home to a number of national monuments, Ferns’ most iconic attraction is the magnificent Ferns Castle. Today, about half the castle still stands, originally it was square shaped with a drum tower at each angle. This Norman castle dates back to the 13th century and you can still see evidence of its origins, with its chapel considered to be one of the finest of its kind in Ireland. The 360 degree view from the top of the Castle is astounding.

In the Castle Grounds, you can drop in to the Visitors Centre which houses the renowned Ferns Tapestries. These consist of 25 tapestry panels which were hand stitched by local women who wanted to highlight Ferns fascinating history in this art form.

To the north of the village are the ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey, which was founded by Dermot MacMurrogh in 1158, St. Peters Church and St. Edan’s Cathedral, which is said to be the smallest cathedral in Europe! In the grounds of St. Edan’s Cathedral can be found three heads of high crosses dating to the 8th and 9th Centuries. In the graveyard adjacent to the Cathedral, you can visit the grave of Diarmuid MacMurrough who left Ferns in 1167 to invite the Normans to Ireland. Walk a short distance in the Gorey direction and you will see St. Mogue’s Well. Legend has it that St. Aidan, whose followers were complaining they could find no water, pointed to this spot and suggested they dig – the waters are said to have curative powers.

Greens Berry Farm

Mention Wexford and one of the first words that comes to mind is strawberry. John Greene is an accomplished grower of seasonal soft fruit. At Greens Berry Farm in Tinnock, Gorey, Co Wexford (just off junction 22 for Gorey on the M11), John is putting into practice his childhood upbringing on the strawberry farm his father owned. He has twenty years’ experience growing a variety of summer berries for the retail soft fruit market and his own two outlets (one of them located here at the entrance to the farm).

In summertime, when the farm is at the height of production, a large and very colourful open stall at the farm entrance tempts passers-by driving the main road to stop and take a look. The stall is a colourful visual display of baskets of all the lovely fruits he grows.

Also on sale here find Greens jams and preserves, homemade from farm fruit, plus Irish apple juices and John’s new potatoes in season. Home grown farm berries include loganberries, gooseberries, tayberries, blackberries and raspberries grown on a mix of indoor and outdoor canes and bushes. Strawberries are grown in peat and all berries are handpicked to ensure fruit in optimum condition and without bruising.

 Marlfield House

Marlfield House is a Regency period house steeped in history which opened its doors to guests in 1978. 

Originally the dower house of the Courtown Estate, Marlfield House later became the principal residence of the Earls of Courtown.  It was built in 1820 making it a Regency style house. 

Owning two mansions was not uncommon for wealthy families in the Ireland of those days. Aristocratic families hosted parties regularly, entertaining other landed gentry from all over the British Isles. The Stopfords (the family name of the Earls of Courtown) were no exception. Guests frequented regularly, coming to stay for long periods at both Courtown House, the principal family residence, or Marlfield House, to enjoy private hunting, shooting and fishing expeditions as well as other country pursuits.

Courtown House was situated about three miles from Marlfield.  Being the principal residence, it was larger than Marlfield and predated it, being built around 1800. Marlfield was built around 1840. Courtown was the more stately of the two mansions, but sadly the family were unable to maintain its upkeep and the house was later demolished in 1948. 

During this time, mansions such as these were built on estates stretching to thousands of acres. The Irish landlord system secured families like the Stopfords’ huge incomes from farming tenants living on there estates. However, the Great Famine of 1845-49 changed all of this.  Four million Irish people starved or emigrated during these terrible years, and the flow of easily obtained rent quickly disappeared.

When the country finally recovered from the famine, Michael Davitt brought about the Land League Movement. This bill was passed giving the lands of Ireland back to the people who farmed them. The inevitable result was that many of the huge estates began to dwindle due to lack of revenue. Land lords could no longer afford the upkeep of these large estates and houses.

Towards the end of the 19th Century, the Earls of Courtown were residing in England. After the demolishment of Courtown House, Marlfield became their principal residence in Ireland which they used for Summer and Winter holidays. The Stopford family put the house and its remaining lands up for sale in 1977. It was then bought by the Bowe family who converted it into a County House Hotel.

 The Book Café

The Book Cafe and Bistro Gorey is a Wexford institution loved by locals and visitors alike. Situated in the heart of Gorey’s main street, this is a cafe with a difference, with shelves upon shelves of fantastic old and new books, that you can take to sit and read and enjoy over a homemade tasty, breakfast lunch or snack.

This charming cafe is run by Ann and Ben who are loved for their warm and friendly welcome, their dedicated team of helpful staff and their freshly prepared food. It is impossible not to fall in love with the Book Cafe and no trip to the sunny south east would be complete without stopping by.

Open Bank holidays and Sundays. Breakfast served until 3pm daily.

 

Upton Court Hotel, Kilmuckridge

 

Every Tuesday night, Upton Court hosts a ‘ Traditional Irish Night’. A group of local musicians get together to play Irish music, dance in the Irish set dancing style and tell stories of times gone by. 

 

 

 

Wells House

Wells House was first built in the 1600s and has seen many changes in its 400 year history.

As part of Ireland’s Ancient East, it has lived through wars, acted as a barracks, been home to generations of the same family and has invited in guests from all walks of life throughout Ireland and further afield. You only need to step inside the house to feel its rich history and as the house and gardens are being restored to their original design by renowned architect Daniel Robertson – it really does feel like a step back in time.

Wells House and Gardens is more than a beautiful place to visit, it is an integral part of history and one of very few estates to have survived the Civil War. Wells House and Gardens may be opening its doors and rebuilding its walls for future generations but it is to tell the story of those from the past, of Ireland’s Ancient East.

 

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