Part 3:

9,000 Years of History

River Slaney

The real problem we have touring in Ireland is that there is so much to see. There is never time to do more than scratch at the surface of little bits of it. On the way to Wexford we passed through Arklow which has an apparently excellent maritime museum. Over the centuries it has been a shipbuilding town, with one of its more recent claims to fame being the building of Francis Chichester's Gipsy Moth II at the yard of Tyrrell & Sons.

The village of Ferns has extensive mediaeval ruins, including those of its cathedral. Gorey and Enniscorthy have churches designed by Pugin, and Enniscorthy's Norman castle houses an extensive museum.

We by-passed all these "might have visited" places on the way to our chosen destination, the Irish National Heritage Park. This remarkable place has been built on 35 acres of what was a swamp on the banks of the River Slaney (above) and invites the visitor to wander through nine thousand years of re-created Irish history.

We took around sixty photographs but even so there are things we missed. Just a few are reproduced here to show (and remind us) what it was like. If you can't go there yourself, there is quite a lot of information on their website.

stone age house
This photograph shows a stone age house, one of the exhibits in the first part of the trail

house in ringfort
From the mesolithic and neolithic periods we pass into the bronze age with cist tomb and stone circle. Then, in the Celtic/early Chritian era is a rath, or ringfort, with a substantial number of buildings. This picture is of one of the houses inside the rath.

early monastery
There is a reconstruction of an early Christian monastery with numerous buildings including church, monks' cells and refectory complete with bowls, plates and other utensils. Some of the buildings can be seen here. Great care has been taken to make everything as authentic as possible. The celtic cross has been painted, as the ancient ones originally were.

corn drying kiln
Corn Drying Kiln - A fire was lit at the opening on the right and the hot air was drawn up through the grain which was laid on a wattle framework. Such kilns have been used in parts of Ireland until quite recently.

Fulacht Fiadh 1
Fulacht Fiadh - A mediaeval Gaelic barbecue! Red-hot stones, heated in the fire, were placed in the water-filled pit which contained the meat to be cooked.

Fulacht Fiadh 2
Fulacht Fiadh - The Centre has given the same name to their restaurant but it appears that its culinary technology is more modern!

Horizontal Mill 1
A horizontal water mill, a device which requires a lot less civil engineering than the vertical-wheeled version.

Horizontal Mill 2
Horizontal water mill - Such mills used to be common in Ireland and they are still used extensively in some parts of the world.

The crannog, a village built for defensive purposes on an artificial island.

viking woodworker's hut
Peter outside the woodworker's hut in the Viking village.

viking shipyard
On the edge of the river is the Viking shipyard. A ship can be seen outside the workshop which houses another, in the course of construction.

viking ship
View of the River Slaney, showing a beached Viking ship a little downstream.

Heritage Park Link

Having spent the night at Tramore, in County Waterford, we had to have a picture of our Patterdale terrier's own restaurant.

Passage East Ferry 1
Passage East Ferry seen from Ballyhack, through the rigging of a fishing boat.

Passage East Ferry 2
The ferry in midstream, seen from Ballyhack.

Passage East Ferry 3
Ferry from Passage East, with Ballyhack in the background.

Waterford Harbour
Waterford Harbour, looking upstream from Passage East.

Hook Head Lighthouse
HOOK HEAD LIGHTHOUSE: Believed to be the oldest operational lighthouse in the world, the main tower was built in the early 13th century, although the sixth century Welsh monk Dubhán is reputed to have established the first light here. The staircases are built within the walls. The upper tier originally supported a coal fire beacon, later replaced by a lantern.

View West from LighthouseView to the West, showing Dunmore East across the estuary and the land disappearing at Brownstown Head.

View North from Lighthouse
The view looking north up the Hook peninsula, with Waterford Harbour on the left.

View East from Lighthouse
Looking east, showing the Saltee Islands on the horizon.

Churchtown Ruins
Ruins of the church in Churchtown, home of the monks who were responsible for the light.

Templetown Ruins
Remains of Templetown church. Its significance is explained in the plaque pictured on the next slide.


Plaque at Templetown
The Knights Templars were founded by the Crusaders in Jerusalem, early in the twelfth century. In 1172, King Henry II granted extensive lands to the Templars along the eastern shore of Waterford Harbour. They set up their headquarters here at Templetown, which is named after them, and at nearby Kilcloggan. The Templars were disbanded in 1307 and their lands were given to their great rivals the Knights Hospitallers who built the fortified church at Templetown and the castle at Kilcloggan.

Created 18 November 2005
HTML revised 6 January 2019