ByRoute 2.1 Co. Wicklow & Co. Wexford

Pasture land east of Taghmon (Photo by Jonathan Billinger)

Taghmon (Co. Wexford / South)

Taghmon, a rural community on a hillside ridge, has an attractive village square.

Taghmon history

The toponym derives from Teach Munnu – “the House of Saint Munnu / Munna / Munn”, aka Saint Fintan Munnu, who founded a monastery here c.635 AD, known to have lasted until at least the mid C11th.

The Taghmon district was once thickly wooded with oak (and one part is still called Forest / Forrest). Medieval timbermen cut down the trees and floated them at high tide down the Corrach River to Clonmines, where they were loaded on to ships for transport to Bristol.

According to local lore, Taghmon and neighbouring communities were burned by marauding Kavanagh, O’Moore and O’Byrne clansmen as late as 1600.

The 1798 Rebellion saw General Fawcett, commander of Duncannon fort, en route to bolster Wexford town garrison, quartered 200 men in Taghmon on 29th May 1798, sending his slower artillery column forward overnight. A dawn ambush at the eastern end of Forth Mountain, where the ground recede to the Three Rocks that gave the brief battle its name, left around 70 of the militia dead. A few survivors brought news of the rout back to Taghmon. Unnerved, Fawcett retreated to Duncannon, abandoning Wexford town to its fate.

The head and base of St Munnu’s Cross are in the local graveyard, next to the stump of an ancient stone edifice known as the Lady’s church.

There are also two Holy Wells commemorating the saint in the vicinity. One is located in a secluded, picturesque area commonly known as Brown’s Castle in Mulmontry townland, and a smooth piece of shale bedrock nearby is called St Munna’s Bed.

Taghmon Castle is said by some to be all that remains of an ancient castle formerly belonging to Sir Gilbert Talbot, Lord of Wexford, ancestor of the Earls of Shrewsbury and Waterford, High Stewards of Ireland, while others say it was never more than a Tower House; the Talbot family undoubtedly owned it in the C16th. (Photo by AFBorchert)

St Munn’s church (CoI) was built in 1819 on the site of a previous church, which had been “thrown down” due to dilapidation. The architect is unknown. HF Lyte, who wrote the hymn Abide with Me, was curate here at around the same time.

The church of Our Lady & St Fintan (RC), designed in Puginesque neo-Gothic style by Martin Farrell, was inaugurated in 1872. The mosaics are believed to be by Ludwig Oppenheimer Ltd. of Manchester, responsible for magnificent work in churches such as Cobh Cathedral.

Taghmon has strong historical associations with the Devereaux family, several members of which were involved in various capacities in the 1798 Rebellion.

Taghmon Historical Society has an interesting Journal, hosted online by the local GAA Club.

The surrounding area contains several interesting ancient artefacts such as at least one Standing Stone inscribed with rock art and a set of three Stone Crosses.

Taghmon is not far from Wexford Town and Rosslare on ByRoute 1.

Coolhull Castle is a striking example of an extended C16th Tower House.

Foulkesmill (Co. Wexford / South)

Foulkesmill / Foulksmills / Foulkesmills (Muilleán Phúca / Muilte Fúca) is nowadays probably best known for its annual Duck Race, usually held at the end of July between the bridge spanning the River Coragh and the old Mill from which the village derives its name.

Horetown (aka Harperstown) is a townland named for brothers Philip and William Hore from Devonshire, who arrived with the first Normans in 1169. Their descendants remained until the Cromwellian confiscation, when they were transplanted to Connacht.

Horetown House

Horetown House was built c.1695 by Richard Goff, whose father, William Goff, a cousin by marriage of Oliver Cromwell‘s, escaped to America after the Restoration, leaving his family in Ireland.

The premises were altered and “improved” over the next 150 years, notably by Strangman Davis-Goff in 1845. His son William Davis-Goff was the last Goff to reside at Horetown, selling it for a pittance in 1899. The imposing mansion was later occupied by Major Lackin, whose wife, Lady Fitzgerald of Johnstown Castle, died as a result of a fall from a horse.

Horetown House has operated as a very expensive luxury Guesthouse since 1961 and has been recently restored. Its Cellar Restaurant has gained a fine reputation. There is also an Equestrian Centre on the grounds.

St. James’ church (CoI) in Horetown is a handsome building dating from 1862; the interior is particularly attractive, with lots of natural light.

Goff’s Bridge was the site of several confrontations during the 1798 Rebellion, most notably the Battle of Foulkesmill / Goffs Bridge / Horetown.

Longgraigue House was where Brigadier General Sir John Moore camped to await reinforcements from Duncannon Fort. On 20th June 1798 he defeated an attack by 5,000 insurgents under Fr. Philip Roche before advancing to intercept fugitives from the Battles of New Ross and Enniscorthy. This victory was later attributed to his ability at commanding artillery. Moore, a Scotsman, was killed at La Corunna, Spain in 1808, fighting against Napoleon’s army in the Peninsular War.

Foulkesmills is within easy reach of Wellington Bridge on ByRoute 1.

Campile (Co. Wexford / Southwest)

Campile (Ceann Phoill “head of the creek or tidal river” anglicised as the Pill that runs through the village) is situated under Sliabh Coillte in the old barony of Shelburne /Shelbourne (from Siol Bran – “Descendants of Bran”). There are three pubs in the village.

Dunbrody Abbey & Castle


Dunbrody Abbey, around which the village of Campile first grew, is one of the most imposing Cistercian abbey ruins in Ireland, and in its time was one of the largest abbeys in the country. (Photo by JohnArmagh)

 

Founded by Hervé de Monte Marisco (Montmorency) on the instructions of Strongbow, the land was given by King Henry II to the Abbacy of Buildwas in Shropshire, but all rights were ceded to the Abbot of St Mary’s, Dublin and the Dunbrody foundation was known as “the Monastery of St Mary of Refuge” or “the Abbey of St. Mary de Port” because its Charter contained a clause giving right of sanctuary. Its abbot was granted the right to wear a bishop’s mitre and sit in the Irish Parliament. On King Henry VIII‘s 1540 Dissolution of the Monasteries, the Abbot became the Bishop of Ferns.

 

The ruins include the church, the foundations of the cloisters and the conventual buildings, constructed on the same plan as the Cistercian Mother House in Ireland, Mount Mellery (Co. Louth). The great east window is a striking example of a three-light early English lancet.

 

Dunbrody Castle is a Tower House begun just before the 1641 Rebellion by John Etchingham, whose sole surviving child, Jane, married Arthur Chichester, 2nd Earl of Donegall;  their descendants still own the property (and considerable amounts of surrounding land).

 

The castle houses the Dunbrody Abbey Visitors Centre. The Castle Garden contains an intricate full sized hedge maze, made with 1,500 yew trees. The Craft shop houses a small museum, the centrepiece being the huge Dunbrody Castle Doll’s House. Other facilities include walks, guided tours, tearooms, a pitch & putt course and a picnic area.

Shelbourne Co-Op, a creamery established in 1919, was attacked in broad daylight by the German Luftwaffe on 26th August 1940, when four bombs were dropped and three young women were killed – Mary Ellen Kent (30), her sister Catherine Kent (26), both from Terrerath, and Kathleen Hurley (27) from Garryduff.  The nearby railway line was also targeted by the bombers. The attack has never been fully explained,  and no compensation was received until well after WWII was over. A plaque was erected in memory of the three women on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the bombing in 1990. The creamery still operates, nowadays as part of the multinational Glanbia.  The adjacent Harts Bar & Lounge contains many artifacts relating to the bombing, and a description and history of each can be found in an old leather-bound book kept underneath the counter in the adjoining sweet shop. Numerous theories have been put forward as to why the bombing occurred, e.g. by Arthur O’ Connor in his novel  Campile (2009); one is that the Germans  were trying to prevent construction of renowned Belfast shipbuilders Harland and Wolff’s proposed (and recently declassified) deep-sea port just outside Campile, and another suggests that while Senator Joseph Kennedy, United States Ambassador to the Court of St.James, who advised President Roosevelt to stay out of England’s war with Germany, was a frequent visitor to his ancestral home in nearby Dunganstown, the English bombed a number of places in Southern Ireland including Campile and blamed Germany in a “dirty tricks” effort by Winston Churchill to cow the Irish into allowing British access to the Treaty Ports.

An American Airacobra crash-landed in Campile in February1943. The pilot, who had become separated from other aircraft on the way to Africa due to bad weather in the Bay of Biscay and attempted to return to England but got lost, was uninjured, and was brought for a meal in Ballysop House (since demolished). The plane was later dismantled and taken to the military aerodrome at Baldonnel in County Dublin.

The JFK Aboretum, celebrating the links between the family of President John F Kennedy and Co. Wexford, was a gift to the Irish people following  his 1963 State visit. Set in 252 hectares with lakes and panoramic views, it contains over 4,500 plant varieties of trees, plants and shrubs from all over the world. Visitor facilities include an audio visual display, a play area with a miniature train and pony & trap rides, Tea Rooms run by well-known chefs Pierce & Valerie McAuliffe, who sell produce in the Shop and run cookery courses at the adjoining Dunbrody Abbey Cookery Centre.

Kilmokea House & Gardens

 

Kilmokea Manor, built in 1794, was a simple Church of Ireland rectory until the last incumbent, Rev. Greer, drowned at Tramore in 1937.

 

Former owners Colonel and Mrs David Price planted  a wide range of exotic and unusual trees and shrubs from 1947 onwards; their justly famous walled garden with its lovely Italian loggia and pool has been beautifully maintained, together with a delightful lakeside woodland garden.

 

The property was purchased in the 1990s  by Mark and Emma Hewlett, who have thoroughly restored and refurbished the house to provide luxurious B&B / Guesthouse and self-catering accommodation for visitors, including the use of a spa and swimming pool. Cream teas are served in a Georgian conservatory.

Campile is not far from Ballyhack and Arthurstown on ByRoute 1.

Slieve Coillte (271m / 888ft), the hill famously occupied by insurgents after their defeat at the Battle of New Ross during the 1798 Rebellion, has a picnic area and viewing point with spectacular views.

Dunganstown on the River Barrow is the location of The Kennedy Homestead, birthplace of President John F Kennedy‘s great-grandfather Patrick Kennedy, who left Ireland in 1848; still farmed by his descendants, it is now a unique Cultural Museum and Visitor Centre, celebrating the story of five generations of the Kennedy dynasty, from steerage on an emigrant vessel to the slums of Boston, from Prohibition-era smuggling to the Court of St James to the White House, and the golden era many Americans refer to as “Camelot”.

Next: New Ross & Rosbercon


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