Wexford Town

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  • Aspects of County Wexford

The Vikings and the Normans

Wexford Town, in the south-east of the county, is a town steeped in history. The Vikings founded the town, which they called Weisfiord, and settled there for roughly 300 years, becoming traders and citizens. At this time, the town was independently run and governed until the arrival of the Normans in the spring of 1169.

They were led by the King of Leinster, Dermot MacMurrough Kavanagh and his ally Robert Fitzstephen. Despite showing great defiance against this onslaught, the Vikings had to accept a settlement with Dermot and the Normans took control of the town.

The Confederate Wars

Wexford was heavily involved in the Confederate Wars of the 17th century. This involved the struggle between the Catholic gentry from Ireland and the protestant settlers from England and Scotland.

This sadly led to the Sack of Wexford in October 1649, where Oliver Cromwell's army took over the town. Soldiers and civilians were massacred and most of the town was burned down. The harbour was also destroyed. Figures suggest that over 2,000 soldiers and 1,500 children were killed during this attack.

Cromwell showed no remorse for the many deaths, saying "they were made with their blood to answer for the cruelties they had exercised upon diverse poor Protestants".

The 1798 Rebellion

The Rebellion of 1798 was largely in response to the setting of very severe laws by the British government on the Catholics of Ireland. Although the rebellion was organised throughout the country, it was in Wexford that it was most violent.

Wexford Town was at the forefront of the rebellion as the rebels took control of the town. It was also the scene of an infamous massacre of loyalists (those loyal to the British Crown) by the United Irishmen, where the loyalists were executed on the bridge in the centre of the town.

Click here to learn more about the 1798 Rebellion in Wexford.