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Title: Enniscorthy  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: County Wexford, History of County Wexford, Battle of Vinegar Hill, Denis Brennan, Nick O'Donnell
Collection: Enniscorthy, Towns and Villages in County Wexford
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Inis Córthaidh
Skyline of Enniscorthy
Enniscorthy is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Country Ireland
Province Leinster
County County Wexford
Elevation 60 m (200 ft)
Population (2011)[1]
 • Total 10,838
Irish Grid Reference S969399

Enniscorthy (Irish: Inis Córthaidh) is the second-largest town in County Wexford, Ireland. At the 2011 census, the population of the town and environs is 10,838.[1] The Placenames Database of Ireland[2] sheds no light on the origins of the town's name. It may refer either to the "Island of Corthaidh" or the "Island of Rocks". With a history going back to 465 Enniscorthy is one of the longest continuously-occupied sites in Ireland. The cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ferns is located in the town.


  • Transport 1
  • History 2
    • Enniscorthy Castle 2.1
    • Vinegar Hill 2.2
    • The 1798 Visitor Centre (Áras 1798) 2.3
    • Saint Aidan's Cathedral 2.4
    • 1916 Rising 2.5
  • Enniscorthy today 3
    • Amenities 3.1
    • Education 3.2
    • People 3.3
    • Literature 3.4
    • Commerce 3.5
      • Davies Distillery 3.5.1
      • George Killian's Red 3.5.2
      • Pottery 3.5.3
      • Enterprise Centre 3.5.4
  • International relations 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7


Enniscorthy has a railway station on the Dublin–Rosslare line. The line terminates at Rosslare Europort. The station opened on 16 November 1863.[3] There is a bus stop at Templeshannon with connections to Waterford, Dublin, and other cities.

In October of 2015, work began on the Enniscorthy Bypass. The new bypass will consist of a 27KM motorway that connects the N11 with the M11. This motorway will be situated to the east of Enniscorthy; allowing motorists stay clear of the town centre. The project will also include a single carriageway that connects the N30 with the M11.[4]


The castle in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford

Enniscorthy Castle

Enniscorthy Castle is an imposing Norman stronghold, which dates from 1205 and was a private dwelling until 1951. The castle was built by the DePrendergasts. In the early 1580s the poet Edmund Spenser leased the property that included the castle.[5]

The castle was also once owned by Sir Henry Wallop. The castle was the site of many fierce battles during the Cromwellian years and also the 1798 Rising. The castle houses the Wexford County Museum, which contains extensive 1798 rebellion-related material, as well as items of local and agricultural interest. It was closed for major refurbishment from 2007 until May 2011.

Vinegar Hill

Vinegar Hill – view from Enniscorthy.

Vinegar Hill (Cnoc Fhiodh na gCaor in Irish which translates as hill of the berry-tree), a pudding-shaped hill overlooking the town, was the largest camp and headquarters of the rebels of 1798 who controlled County Wexford for thirty days against vastly superior forces, before their defeat on 21 June. However, many managed to flee south through a gap left in the British lines by General Needham (now known as Needham's Gap). During this time, Beauchamp Bagnell Harvey was declared President of the Wexford Republic.

The 1798 Visitor Centre (Áras 1798)

Destruction of the Church of Enniscorthy - illustated by George Cruikshank (1845)

The 1798 Visitor Centre is devoted to the history and aftermath of the 1798 Rising setting it in its European context. It is housed in the former Congregation of Christian Brothers monastery.[6] The Visitor Centre offers people the chance to see what famous figures were involved in the 1798 Rising.

Saint Aidan's Cathedral

Saint Aidan's Cathedral, Enniscorthy

Following the relaxation of the Penal Laws at the beginning of the 19th century, it became possible for the Roman catholic community to consider building a cathedral to replace the one in Ferns that had been appropriated for use by the Church of Ireland during the English Reformation. Built in 1843, St. Aidan's Cathedral,[7] was designed by Augustus Welby Pugin. This architect is more famous for having designed London's Houses of Parliament. The cathedral is in the same Neo-Gothic style. Notable features include the striking façade, a reredos carved from Caen stone and a great north window with intricate stone tracery. The cathedral was subsequently much renovated (in line with reforms promulgated by the second Vatican Council). It was restored to its near original design in 1994 when authentic colours, materials and techniques were used. The restoration took a year, during which time cathedral services were held at St Mary's church (Church of Ireland) nearby.

1916 Rising

In 1916, Enniscorthy patriots again took their place in history, when James Connolly requested that the Enniscorthy Volunteers take and hold the railway line to prevent reinforcements from reaching Dublin. 600 Volunteers took the town, led by Robert Brennan, Seamus Doyle and J R Etchingham, they surrounded the police station, but did not attempt to take it. The RIC barracks was held by a police inspector and five constables while an RIC sergeant and one constable prevented the rebels from taking over a bank in the town. They established headquarters at the Athenaeum, and held control until asked to surrender by Padraig Pearse.

The Volunteers also established a strong position on Vinegar Hill, overlooking the town. The railway line was cut and men dispatched to Gorey and Ferns. The government responded by sending a force of more than 1,000 men to retake Enniscorthy and the rebels retired to their positions on Vinegar Hill. Before hostilities could develop the news of the Dublin surrender arrived, but the Volunteers refused to believe it. The army commander, Col FA French,to avoid bloodshed, offered safe conduct for the Wexford leaders so that they could go to Dublin and hear of the surrender directly from Pearse. There were no fatalities.

Enniscorthy in 1837

Enniscorthy today


Enniscorthy is situated by the River Slaney, and has short walks beside it to the north and to the south, on the west bank. It is the cathedral town of the Diocese of Ferns and has two Catholic churches spread over two parishes — St. Aidan's and St Senan's, under the shadow of Vinegar Hill. The town also hosts a Church of Ireland, a joint Methodist/Presbyterian church, a Non-denominational Christian in Alive Church, a Society of Friends meeting hall, and a Masonic Lodge. There is a swimming pool/recreation centre, several sports grounds including a rugby club and GAA club and several hotels including the four star Riverside Park Hotel. Surrounding the town, there is an 18-hole golf course, several pitch and putts, freshwater fishing, and a five-star spa Monart is just beside "The Still Pond". The town also boasts several historical sites and museums. Young people complain about the general lack of amenities for them to use. Plans for a skate park were put forward but these were rejected as the town council deemed there was no funding available. Festivals:

  • The Strawberry Fair. This is an annual event, which takes place in the last week of June. It consists of amusements in Bellfield, live bands and the crowning of the Strawberry Queen in the square.
  • Blackstairs Blues festival. This is an annual event, now in its eighteenth year. The festival includes international and local performers, in a variety of late night concerts and open workshops. The festival includes a free pub trail and late night festival club.
  • Enniscorthy Street Rhythms and Dance Festival. This is an annual event, which takes place in the two weekend in August. The Festival includes dance exhibitions, parade, fireworks, concert, dance workshops for kids, adults and dancers. Bringing a brand new festival to Enniscorthy with the aim of including all age groups from 2 to 102 and bringing a sense of community and joy to the town.


Enniscorthy has four second-level schools: Colaiste Bride, St. Mary's CBS, Enniscorthy Vocational School and Meanscoil Gharman.



Enniscorthy is mentioned in the Ithaca chapter of James Joyce's Ulysses (p. 812) as a flyleaf note in a book belonging to Leopold Bloom, where it is described as "Ennifcorthy, County Wicklow, the finest place in the world" (sic). Several poems by Thomas_Kinsella were based in Enniscorthy. Colm Tóibín's 2014 novel Nora Webster is set in Enniscorthy and surrounding places in County Wexford.


Davies Distillery

As early as 1824 Francis Davies, a Miller, operated a Spirit business from his mill in Enniscorthy.[8] Davies then employed John Mullaly as distiller. Mullaly had previously worked as a distiller with John McKenzie & Co in Mill Street Belfast. When Theobald Mathew (temperance reformer) preached temperance, many distilleries in Ireland closed.[9] After the Davies distillery closed, Mullaly and his family cast their lots together and emigrated to Australia on the Salsette in 1840.[10]

George Killian's Red

Enniscorthy was the location of a regional microbrewery opened in 1864 and owned by the descendants of George Killian Lett. During their operation Killian's ale was sold almost entirely in Wexford county. Lett's Brewery still operates today, but no longer brews its own products. They now focus on wholesale to shops, bars and hotels.[11] Killian's Red is still sold abroad, and the brand is currently held by Brasseries Pelforth, S. A.


Carley's Bridge Pottery is one of Ireland's oldest potteries, having made earthen pots for over three hundred years. Paddy Murphy was also an Enniscorthy potter and in 1980 founded Hill View pottery adjacent to his home and close to Carley's Bridge Pottery. The cul de sac "Potters' Way" is named after for him — as he would walk that route to his home. Since his passing, Hill View pottery has been taken over by his relation Derek O'Rourke.

Enterprise Centre

Enniscorthy Enterprise & Technology Centre the home of business support and training for small and medium enterprises. The centre specialises in the support of startup businesses and the upskilling of people in employment in Co. Wexford. The difference between an Enterprise centre and other enterprise units are the services. It not only rents a space, but it is part of the structure that promotes and supports a business. The environment and facilities are created to help businesses and also promote a professional image to their clients.

International relations

Enniscorthy is twinned with:

Enniscorthy was the host town of Canada, for the 2003 Special Olympics.

See also


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ Placenames Database of Ireland
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Oxford DNB
  6. ^ Visitor Centre
  7. ^ St. Aidan's Cathedral
  8. ^ [1] Piggots Directory 1824
  9. ^ Father Mathew a Biography – John Francis MacGuire (Longman Green, Longman, Roberts and Green Lon 1863
  10. ^ [2] Passenger list Salsette
  11. ^, Lett's Website
  12. ^
  13. ^ Gimont

External links

  • Enniscorthy Castle website
  • Enniscorthy Town Council Website
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