In the Southeast corner of Ireland, facing St. George’s Channel, there’s the charming town of Wexford. Brightly painted storefronts line the narrow streets with apartments above. Black painted bollards line the sidewalk and keep the cars in the street where they belong.
You won’t have to walk too far before you encounter another church or cathedral. And if you need a pint or two before you go to confession, there’s pubs aplenty in just about every direction.
Looking for history?
If you’re like me, and maybe didn’t pay quite enough attention in history class, there’s a complete Irish history class refresher just waiting for you at the Irish National Heritage Park. Here, you’ll be guided through 9,000 years of Irish life in the largest open-air museum on the Irish Isle. Learn about the Vikings, the Celts and the Normans – they weren’t all as friendly as the modern day Irish.
Thirty-five acres house 16 distinct historical reconstructions in historically correct settings. They give the visitor the feel of what it would have been like to grow up in many historically significant times. From the thatched huts that held multiple families to a fortified compound to a monastery, you can wander in and try to picture how life could possibly go on in such compact surroundings.
Trained docents bring the settings to life with interesting facts and tidbits that you never would have learned in school even if you had been paying attention. Open all year around, plan a minimum of two hours to take everything in. A quality gift shop and restaurant will add another hour to your time.
If you like Peacocks better than Vikings…
Then there’s the other major attraction just 10 minutes from town, the Irish Agricultural Museum and Johnstown Castle Gardens. Here you’ll find one of the best displays of rural farm life in all of Ireland.
In the agricultural museum you’ll find a large collection of beautifully restored tractors, dairy equipment, horse drawn carts, threshing machines and more. Check out the blacksmith shop, the cooper’s workroom and the wheelwright’s work area.
In the Johnstown Castle Gardens you’ll discover over 200 varieties of trees and shrubs. It’s the perfect picture backdrop by the Gothic towers, the statuary or the scenic waterfalls. If you’re lucky you can grab a shot as the venerable peacocks stroll by.
Yep, they’ve got a museum shop and a tea room as well (serving from Easter through October). Fire up your tablet, they’ve got free Wi-Fi here.
Maureen Bardwell and her photojournalist husband Doug love to travel the world in search of those unique, off the beaten track restaurants, bakeries, wineries, and local craft shops. If you’ve got a favorite you’d like to see mentioned here, drop us a line. To get our stories delivered to your inbox, click the RSS feed or the "Subscribe" button above or follow Doug on Facebook , Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or our blog.