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WEXFORD

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Originally appearing in Volume V28, Page 567 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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WEXFORD, a seaport, market town and municipal borough, and the county town of Co. Wexford, Ireland, finely situated on the south side of the Slaney, where it discharges into Wexford Harbour, on the Dublin & South-Eastern railway, 924 M. S. of Dublin. Pop. (1901) 11,168. Wexford Harbour, formed by the estuary of the Slaney, is about 5 M. from N. to S. and about 4 from E. to W. There are quays extending nearly goo yds., and the harbour affords good accommodation for shipping, but its advantages are in great part lost by a bar at its mouth pre-venting the entrance of vessels drawing more than 12 ft. An artificial harbour was therefore opened at Rosslare in 1906, outside the southern part of the promontory closing in the harbour, and this is connected with Wexford by a railway (81 m.) owned by the Great Southern & Western Company, and is served by the passenger steamers of the Great Western railway of England from Fishguard. The town of Wexford consists, for the most part, of extremely narrow streets, of picturesque appearance, but inconvenient to traffic. Some remains exist of the old walls and flanking towers. The Protestant church, near the ruins of the ancient abbey of St Sepulchre or Selsker, is said to occupy the spot where the treaty was signed between the Irish and the English invaders in 116g. The principal modern buildings are the town-hall, court-house, barracks, occupying the site of the ancient castle, St Peter's College for the education of Catholic clergy, with a striking chapel by A. W. Pugin, and a number of convents. At Carrick, 2 M. W., the Anglo-Normans erected their first castle, and opposite this, across the river, is a modern round tower commemorating the men of Wexford who died in the Crimean War. The principal exports are agricultural produce, live stock and whisky. Shipbuilding is carried on, and also tanning, malting, brewing, iron-founding, distilling and the manufacture of artificial manure, flour, agricultural implements, and rope and twine. Wexford is the headquarters of salmon and sea fishery districts. Under the Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898 it retains its mayor and corporation. Wexford was one of the earliest colonies of the English, having been taken by Fitzstephen. It was the second town that Cromwell besieged in 1649. It was garrisoned for William III. in 169o. In 1798 it was made the headquarters of the rebels, who, however, surrendered it on the 21st of June. In 1318 the town received a charter from Aymer de Valence, which was extended by Henry IV. in 1411, and confirmed by Elizabeth in 1558• 566 Geology.—The Leinster Chain, with its granite core and margin of mica-schist, bounds the county on the west. From this, Silurian ground stretches to the sea, like a platform with a hummocky surface, numerous intrusive and contemporaneous felsitic lavas, and some diorites occurring along the strike in continuation of the Waterford series. A granite outlier rises south-east of Enniscorthy; and granite, in part gneissic, forms Carnsore Pt. From near Courtown to Bannow Bay, greenish slates like the Oldhamian series of Wicklow form a broad band, with Old Red Sandstone and Carboniferous Limestone above them near Wexford. Silurian beds appear again towards Carnsore. The surface of the county is much modified by glacial drift. and by the presence of sands and gravels of pre-Glacial and possibly late Pliocene age. These interesting beds are used for liming the fields, under the name of " manure gravels," on account of the fossil shells that they contain. Industries.—The soil for the most part is a cold stiff clay resting on clay-slate. The interior and western districts are much inferior to those round the coasts. In the south-eastern peninsula of Forth and Bargy the soil is a rich alluvial mould mixed with coralline sandstone and limestone. The peninsula of Hookhead, owing to the limestone formation, is specially fruitful. In the western districts of the county there are large tracts of turf and peat-moss. The acreage under pasture is a little over twice that of tillage, and figures show a fair maintenance of the principal crops, barley, of which the county produces more than any other Irish county, oats, potatoes and turnips. The numbers also of cactle, sheep, pigs and poultry are large and increasing, or well maintained. Except in the town of Wexford the manufactures and trade are of small importance. The town of Wexford is the headquarters of sea and salmon fishing districts, and there are a few fishing villages on the inlets of the south coast. The main line of the Dublin & South-Eastern railway enters the county from N.E., and runs to Wexford by way of Enniscorthy, with a branch W. to New Ross, from Macmine Junction. Connecting with this line at Palace East, a branch of the Great Southern & Western joins the Kilkenny & Kildare line at Bagenalstown, county Carlow. This company also owns the lines from Rosslare harbour to Wexford and across the southern part of the county to Waterford. There is water communication for barges by the Slaney to Enniscorthy; by the Barrow for larger vessels to New Ross, and by this river and the Grand Canal for barges to Dublin. Population and Administration.—The population decreases (112,063 in 1891; 104,104 in Igor), but this decrease and the emigration returns are less serious than the average of Irish counties. Of the total about 91% are Roman Catholics, and about 83% form the rural population. The principal towns are Wexford (pop. 11,168), New Ross (5847), Enniscorthy (5458) and Gorey (2178). Newtownbarry, finely situated on the Slaney below the outliers of Mount Leinster, is a lesser market town. To the Irish parliament, until the Union of 'Soo, the county returned two members, and the boroughs of Bannow, Clonmines, Enniscorthy, Fethard, Gorey, New Ross, Taghmon and Wexford two each. By the Redistribution Act of 1885 Wexford, which had returned two members since 1800, was divided into two parliamentary divisions, North and South, each returning one member, the borough of Wexford, which formerly returned one member, and the portion of the borough of New Ross within the county, being merged in the South Division. The county is divided into t°n baronies. It is in the Protestant diocese of Dublin, and the Roman Catholic dioceses of Dublin, Ferns, and Kildare and Leighlin. Assizes are held at Wexford, and quarter sessions at Enniscorthy, Gorey, New Ross and Wexford. History and Antiquities.—The northern portion of Wexford was included in .Hy Kinselagh, the peculiar territory of the Macmorroughs, overlords of Leinster, who had their chief residence at Ferns. Dermod Macmorrough, having been de-posed from the kingdom of Leinster, asked help of Henry II., king of England, who authorized him to raise forces in England for the assertion of his claim. He secured the aid of Strongbow by promising him the hand of Eva, and in addition obtained assistance from Robert Fitzstephen and Maurice Fitzgerald of Wales. On the rst of May 1169 Fitzstephen landed at Bagenbon on the south side of Fethard, and after four days' siege captured the town of Wexford from its Danish inhabitants. After this Dermod granted the territory of Wexford to Fitzstephen and Fitzgerald and their heirs for ever. Macmorrough having died in 1172, Strongbow became lord of Leinster. At first Henry II. retained Wexford in his own possession, but in 1174 he committed it to Strongbow. The barony of Forth is almost entirely peopled by the descendants of those who accompanied these By James I. it was in 16o8 made a free borough corporate, by the title of " the town and free borough corporate of Wexford." It returned two members to parliament from 1374 till the Union, when they were reduced to one. In 1885 it was included in the south division of the county.
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