Placenames of Wexford

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  • Aspects of County Wexford

There are many different kinds of placenames. Every mountain, hill, river, stream, wood, rock and hollow usually has a name. Towns, villages, crossroads, fields, roads, streets and lanes have names also.

Ireland is divided into about 62,000 townlands and all of these have names. Many of the townlands and other names are in Irish. The Irish names are usually very old. Sometimes place names, especially English ones, change from over time.

Wexford Town

The Irish name for Wexford is Loch Garman (Garman's Lake) and it is thought that it got this name in pre-historic times when a thief named Garman was drowned in the harbour while escaping with his loot! The river Slaney got its name from a prehistoric chieftain named Slainghe.

By the early 10th century the Norsemen had established a settlement on the shore of Loch Garman. The Norsemen gave Loch Garman a new name. They called it Weisfiord or Veisafjpror, which means 'bay or inlet of the mudflats': it is from Weisfiord that we got the name Wexford.

The Normans

The Normans arrived in Ireland in 1169 A.D. and straight away they took over the town of Wexford from the Norsemen who were their kinsmen. The Normans built a great stone castle on the site where the barracks now stand at Barrack Street.

They also surrounded the town with a stone wall in which there were seven gates. From the castle and wall we get the names Castle Hill Street, John's Gate Street and Westgate.