ByRoute 2.1 Co. Wicklow & Co. Wexford

Gorey (Co. Wexford / North)

Gorey (Guaire) (pop. 3,500) is an attractive old market town with several interesting buildings, while the surrounding area is well worth exploring.  The local population has undergone massive expansion in recent years as Dublin commuters move into the area, and the  town has several good pubs, eateries and accommodation options.

Main Street is attractive, with many old fashioned shopfronts and a striking Monument to the 1798 Rebellion. (Photo by Verdasuno)

The Market House, rebuilt in 1709, served as a prison for insurgents during the 1798 Rebellion, and is now the local government administrative centre. The building features a remarkable chiming clock, and also houses the North Wexford Tourist Office.

The Court House (1819) at the top of the street was burned down in 1922 but was rebuilt shortly afterwards, and is now home to the town’s Library.

Christchurch (CoI), built in 1861, has some magnificent stained glass windows, and the church tower is beautifully illuminated at night. The impressive stained glass windows are mainly Victorian, with some more modern pieces by Harry Clarke and Catherine O’Brien. The organ dates from 1870. Next door, the striking former Erasmus Smith School House (1834) is now the Social Services Centre.

Saint Michael’s church (RC), on Saint Michael’s Road at the bottom of Main Street, inaugurated in 1841, is a beautiful spacious structure distinguished by its massive square Norman style tower. Said to have been inspired by Dunbrody Abbey, it was designed by the famous AW Pugin, who also designed the Loreto Convent next to the church.

The Methodist church (1834) in the Market Square is the town’s oldest church. Gorey is also hometo other relifious groups, notably an active Muslim community with an interesting website.

Rynvanney House on Rafter Street, built in 1814, was once the local RIC Barracks and more recently a nursing home.

Gorey Hill (418ft) at the western end of the town was used as a camping place by the 1798 Rebellion insurgents before their march on Arklow (Co. Wicklow).

Clonattin (Clauin-Edan) is so called because Saint Edan supposedly had a cell there, and the remains of a small monastic church are still evident. The burial ground is said to date back to the C5th. Due to cholera outbreaks during and after the Great Famine, many paupers who died in the old Gorey Union Workhouse were buried in communal graves at Clonattin.

In Ramstown, the beautiful entrance hall of the old Workhouse has recently been restored as part of a dwelling house, and some old workhouse buildings still standalongside the site of Gorey Leather Factory (1936 – 1979). Gorey Business Park is now located on the remaining site.

Gorey & the Rams

Although a local settlement appears in Hiberno-Norman records for the year 1296, the foundation of Gorey is conventionally traced to the incorporation under charter dated 19th October 1619 of the Town of Newborough. This was largely due to the influence of the Church of Ireland’s incumbent in the Diocese of Ferns & Leighlin, Bishop Thomas Ram from Windsor, buried with several descendants in the Old Cemetery on Market Square, whose family were responsible for Gorey’s fine C18th layout and effectively ran the town for almost 250 years.

Bishop Thomas Ram built an Episcopal Palace c.1620 on the site now occupied by the Irish Permanent offices on Main Street, and founded nearby Ramsfort mansion around 1630. The Palace was burned down during the 1641 Irish Rebellion by Eneas Kavanagh, who drove the Bishop’s son, Able Ram, from Ramsfort in a “most tyrannous and barbarous manner“. Able could not return until Oliver Cromwell‘s bloody victory at Drogheda in 1649; he later became Lord Mayor of Dublin, and was knighted in 1684. Family members represented the Borough of Gorey in the Irish Parliament until disenfranchised by the 1800 Act of Union, whereupon Stephen Ram received £15,000 as a solatium.

The Ramsfort Mansion in the C18th.

Both the Rams’ large residences at Clonatin and Ramsfort were destroyed during the 1798 Rebellion, the latter bombarded from Gorey. Ramsfort was magnificently rebuilt. In 1855, Arthur Archibald Ramturned Papish, and the family hasn’t had a day’s luck since.” Fifteen years later, he was forced to sell Ramsfort.

Ramsfort in 1996.

Ramsfort belonged to Sir George Errington and his wife from 1895 to 1935. An Island Hunt Ball hosted here in the 1920s had as many as 140 guests. The house, said to be haunted by a Colonel Ram, remains in private ownership.

Probably the most high profile death in County Wexford during the War of Independence was that of RIC District Inspector Percival Lea-Wilson, shot dead by the IRA outside his Gorey home in June 1920.

Molumney Art Centre is open daily in summer.

Gorey‘s Little Theatre produces shows by the Gorey Theatre Group throughout the year and also brings in plays performed by visiting groups. It is the venue for an annual week long Drama Festival and a twice-weekly play during the summer months, popular with locals and visitors alike.

Gorey Choral Group, a Mixed Voice Choir of around 38 members, has participated in contests all over Ireland and Wales, and brought many trophies back home. Gorey Musical Society has one production a year. The town is also home to several local Irish Traditional and Rock music groups.

In recent years Gorey has hosted the learned Byrne/Perry Summer School, which examines history and literature to see how the last two centuries have shaped contemporary Ireland.

Gorey is within easy reach of Courtown Harbour on ByRoute1.

Marlfield House

Marlfield House, a fine rural Regency style mansion,  originally built by the Earl of Courtown as a dower house, was later used by visitors to Courtown House, and finally became the  family’s chief residence in the last  years before they left for England. (Photo by Jim Hoare)

Restored by Mary and Ray Bowe in 1978, it is now a luxurious 4-star country house hotel set on 36 acres of woodland, wildfowl reserve and beautiful gardens with a lake, a croquet lawn and tennis courts.

The elegant restaurant is world class, serving classical Big House dishes with French and Mediterranean influences.

Kia-Ora mini farm provides all weather viewing of Jacob sheep, baby deer, mules, pigs, chipmunks, fish, tropical birds, pheasants, bronze turkeys, ducks and geese. Kids love it

Clogh, bypassed by the main road since 2007, has a Celtic Cross commemorating the Battle of Tubberneering / Toberanierin during the 1798 Rebellion, at which Colonel Lambert Theodore Walpole was killed and the division he was leading defeated with great loss of life on June 4th of that year. (A tablet to his memory is located in Christ Church, Gorey). There is also a Quaker burial ground. The old graveyard at Toome, which has recently been renovated, has headstones dating back to the C17th.

Ireland and it's history, culture, travel, tourism and more!