In September my husband, Darren and I took a trip to Wexford, Ireland to visit his family. Darren grew up in Wexford but hadn't been home in many years and while this would be my third trip to Ireland it was my first trip to Wexford.
Wexford has a few "claims to fame." First, it's known as the county where the Kennedy family comes from. Second, Curracloe beach is where the movie "Saving Private Ryan" was filmed. And last but not least, Wexford is known for its strawberries.
On our first day there we visited Tintern Abbey and the Hook lighthouse. In the year 1200, William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke, set out to pay his first visit to Ireland as Lord of Leinster. Threatened with shipwreck off the south coast, he vowed to found an abbey wherever he should reach safety. On landing in Bannow Bay, he redeemed his vow, bequeathing about 3500 hectares of land for the foundation of a Cistercian abbey. Situated on the west shore of Bannow Bay in Co. Wexford, Tintern Abbey was one of the most powerful Cistercian foundations in the south-east until the mid-16th century.
Our next stop was Hook Lighthouse, the oldest operational Lighthouse in the world. Hook Lighthouse offers guided tours of the lighthouse tower, a 13th Century Norman structure, built by William Marshal, Earl of Pembroke as part of the development of his Lordship of Leinster.
On our last day we went to Johnstown Castle. The castle was built for the Grogan-Morgan family sometime in the 1800's. The property was presented as a gift to Ireland in 1945. The Johnstown Castle Estate extends to 1,000 acres, of which 100 acres is open to the public. Within that area you can explore the outside of the castle, the Meat store, Sunken garden, Castle lake, the Statue walk, the Lower Lake, Rathlannon Castle, Garden Lake, the Walled Garden and the Irish Agricultural Museum.
The Museum displays an extensive collection of artifacts relating to rural life in Ireland in the 19th and 20th centuries including an Irish furniture exhibit and a new exhibit about the Great Famine. There is a separate admission fee for the museum. Darren's grandfather's farming equipment was donated to the museum so of course we had to go see it. We really enjoyed all three exhibits and would recommend not skipping the museum if you decide to visit Johnstown Castle. It is worth the extra admission.