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Wexford Historical Society


Autumn-Winter Newsletter 2016


Unless otherwise noted, all meetings and lectures are in St Michael’s Hall, (St Vincent de Paul), Green Street, Wexford.


Wednesday, 14 September @ 8pm: Ireland and the Somme.

Speaker: Derek Smyth

This lecture will examine the role of Irish formations and individuals in the Somme offensive of 1916. The struggle on the Somme has burned itself into the collective memory of many in these islands. The outcome of the battle and the unprecedented casualty figures would influence the course of British, Irish and European history during the following century.

Derek Smyth holds a BA (Hons) degree in History from Queen’s University and an MA in History from the University of Ulster. He is author of A journey of remembering: Belfast Book of Honour (2000) and is a battlefield tour guide over several years.


Wednesday, 2 November @ 8pm:

Dr George Hadden Memorial Lecture – The legacy of 1916.

Speaker: Professor Ronan Fanning, MRIA

There will be a charge of €5 for non-members.

Dr Fanning is Professor emeritus of Modern History and Director of Archives at the School of History and Archives at University College Dublin. A member of the Royal Irish Academy, he is on the board of the Directory of Irish Biography.and the Documents on Irish Foreign Policy there. He is also a regular political, historical and current affairs columnist at the Sunday Independent. His most recent book is Fatal path: British government and Irish revolution 1910-1922 (2013).

Sunday, 4 December @ 1pm: Society Annual Lunch

Our annual lunch will take place in the Talbot Hotel. The cost will be €28. Please book places with Brian Matthews on (053)9135488 or (087)2836933 on or before November 28th.

After lunch Jim Hurley will give a talk on A Tale of a Whale

It will focus on a Blue Whale, the largest creature that ever lived on planet Earth, that live-stranded on the Swanton Bank in Wexford Harbour on Wednesday 25 March 1891. From the summer of 2017, the skeleton of that whale is to feature centre stage in the British Museum. In a mix of history and natural history, naturalist and WHS member Jim Hurley recounts what promises to be a whale of a tale!

The Wexford Opera Festival Tours 2016


Organised by Nicholas Furlong

The Wexford Opera Festival Tours are held in association with the National Opera House on behalf of the Wexford Historical Society. They are led by expert guides to sites of historical interest. They are open to everyone. There is no charge but we ask all drivers to help by offering seats to visitors. The tours leave the Talbot Hotel car park at 10.30am sharp. All tours are scheduled to return to Wexford at 1.00pm.

Wednesday, 26 October

In 1798, a massive political and armed insurrection, inspired by the French Revolution and involving all classes and creeds, took place in Ireland. Wexford was the storm centre. A walking tour of the then convulsed Wexford town is led by retired auctioneer, Ray Corish.

Thursday, 27 October

A pleasant and scenic walk around Lady’s Island, a place of pagan and Christian pilgrimage and a site of international importance for wild life, with naturalist, Jim Hurley.

Friday, 28 October

As we commemorate the history-revolving rebellion of 1916, we visit the military headquarters of the Irish Volunteers in County Wexford – Enniscorthy, its sites, exhibitions, strategic importance, vulnerability and inspiration, with author and historian, Bernard Browne.

Saturday, 29 October

Wexford, the first safe harbour and port for explorers from France, Spain, England, Wales and Scandinavia since remote pre-history, is saturated with the sea lore of captains and kings. A walking tour, with tales of sailors, ships and seas, is led by musicologist and broadcaster, Liam Gaul.

Monday, 31 October

The decade commencing in 1910 was one of turmoil, suffering and defiance in County Wexford. The industrial strife in Wexford Town in 1911 was so bitter that it was not spoken of, but it featured national and international leaders; Richard Corish, James Connolly and James Larkin. A walking tour led by Helen Corish Wilde, former Mayor of Wexford, daughter of a Mayor of Wexford and granddaughter of the great Mayor of Wexford, Richard Corish.

Tuesday, 1 November

A land steeped in mystery, veneration and sea drama, Carnesore Point. Ptolemy recorded it as “Hieron Akron” – sacred promontory. It was an early Christian site, succeeding the pre-Christian rites. All will be revealed by the President of the Wexford Historical Society, Brian Matthews.

Wednesday, 2 November

Today’s tour will visit three sites of significance on the banks of the Slaney: Edermine House and oratory were in the possession of the famous Power Distillery family; Bellevue church designed by JJ McCarthy was part of a large estate owned by the Cliffe family; Bree parish church was the first church designed by Augustus Welby Pugin in County Wexford. The tour will be led by Jarlath Glynn, librarian and Chairman of Wexford Historical Society.


Thursday, 3 November

Explore Foulksmills, one of Wexford’s most exciting villages and localities, rich in contrasting remains and traditions, with author and editor, Gregory Walsh.

Friday, 4 November

1916: subversive and conspiratorial Wexford town. The innocuous political nerve centres as revolution was planned. Volunteers drilled and were jailed as both prominent and ordinary citizens organised for an upheaval. A walking tour with Nicholas Furlong.

Saturday, 5 November

Wilton Castle, on the banks of the Boro. This exciting venue originated as Cloch na Kayer in 1247 with occupier William de Denn. The Alcocks named it Wilton in 1695. It teems with legends and is famed because of a General Election duel between cousins Alcock and Colclough. Its rejuvenation from neo-Tudor ruin to luxury accommodation today is admirable. The Wilton sagas will be related by specialist, John McCormack.


If you have forgotten to renew your membership and if you wish to continue as a member of our Society please forward your annual fee of €20 to our membership secretary, Ms Lorraine Hynes, 3a Mary Street, Wexford. There will be a charge of €5 to our Festival lecture for non-members.