Wexford County - Wexford Guide and Directory, 1885

About “Wexford County Guide and Directory,” 1885

George Henry Bassett produced 7 Irish county directories in the 1880s: Antrim, Armagh, Down, Kilkenny, Louth, Tipperary and Wexford. Each provides useful history of the respective counties as well as lists of office holders, farmers, traders, and other residents of the individual cities, towns and villages.

Read more »

The directories are naturally an invaluable resource for those tracing family history. However, there are a few points to bear in mind.

  1. This online version of Bassett’s Wexford County Guide and Directory is designed primarily as a genealogical research tool and therefore the numerous advertisements in the original book, many full page, and quite a few illustrated, have been excluded.
  2. The text has been proofed with due care, but with large bodies of text typographical errors are inevitably bound to occur.
  3. Be aware that there were often inconsistencies in spelling surnames in the 19th century and also that many forenames are abbreviated in Bassett’s directories.

With respect to the last point, surnames which today begin with the “Mc” prefix, for example, were often formerly spelt as “M‘,”. For a list of some of the more common forename abbreviations used in the directory, see Forename Abbreviations.

Show less

WEXFORD County is represented on the map of Ireland as occupying the most extreme South-easterly position. It is in the Province of Leinster. Wicklow is its Northern boundary. It is bounded on the South by the Atlantic Ocean; on the East by St. George’s Channel, and on the West by Carlow, Kilkenny, and Waterford. The greatest length of the County, North and South is 55 miles; the greatest breadth is 34 miles; and the area in acres is 575,700.

In remote times Wexford was inhabited by tribes known as Fir-bolgs, who were subdued by the Gaels. The Danes contrived to secure a foothold in it, and many traces of them still remain, including the name Weisford, or Wexford. The British connexion with Ireland began at Wexford in May, 1169. At Bag-an-bun promontory, on the Southern Coast, 400 men landed under command of Robert Fitzstephen and Maurice Fitzgerald. The invasion was invited by Dermod M‘Murrough, King of Leinster, who, by severity and oppressive rule, made himself so unpopular with his own subjects that he was compelled to fly his kingdom to escape the wrath of O’Rourke, Prince of Breffny, whose wife he had carried away. O’Rourke’s cause was espoused by Roderic O’Connor, King of Connaught. M‘Murrough, with the concurrence of Henry II., entered into a contract with Richard, Earl Strongbow, the terms of which were that the latter should receive all the land of Leinster and M‘Murrough’s only daughter, Eva, in marriage. Strongbow not having immediately busied himself with preparation for the expedition, M‘Murrough became impatient, and secured the aid of Fitzstephen and his Lieutenant. The price arranged upon was a grant of the town of Wexford and two cantreds of land. According to tradition, the promontory of Bag-an-bun received its name from the two ships, the Bagg and the Bunn, in which Fitzstephen made the voyage across the Channel.

Strongbow, having heard news of Fitzstephen’s expedition, followed him to Wexford in 1171, with a force which included many Flemings, who had been driven from their own country by an inburst of the sea. Strongbow fulfilled his contract with M‘Murrough, and received his daughter in marriage. At the death of M‘Murrough, his title to the lands of Leinster was confirmed by Henry II. In six years from the time of his accession Strongbow died, leaving, as the fruit of the marriage with Eva, a daughter, Isabella, who, during fourteen years, remained as the ward of Henry II., and was, by him, given in marriage to William, Earl Marshall, who succeeded to the Leinster inheritance. Of this marriage there were five daughters, amongst whom, lacking a male heir, the lands were divided.

In the war of the Catholic Confederation, beginning in 1641, the people of the county took an active part, and spent a large amount of money in fortifying their principal strongholds. Cromwell arrived in 1649, and succeeded in gaining complete possession. The cause of James II. against William and Mary, 1688–1692, had many sympathisers in Wexford. The Penal Laws were enforced with such stringency as to bring about the Rebellion of 1798. The principal and most hotly-contested battles between the people and the Royal troops were fought in Wexford. To this day there is scarcely a resident of the county who has not a story to tell in connection with it that came to him from an eye-witness, a participator, or the son of a participator.

The student of archaeology will find, in every part of the County Wexford, much to attract hiM. Along the shore may be traced a line of ruined castles, which were built by the English settlers for the purpose of protection. The original number of these was 120. In times of invasion watch-fires were lighted on the towers, and signals passed from one to another. The ruins of these grim sentinels, most of them exceedingly picturesque, greatly enrich the soft and romantic landscapes of the Southern division. Ruined abbeys and churches, a few of them numbered among the finest in Ireland, are still in admirable preservation. Some of these remains tell of great possessions, and the lands in their vicinity bear the mark, even in the present day, of careful tilling.

Numerous churches and religious establishments in the vicinity of Wexford and through the South have entirely disappeared; even the sites of many of them are almost forgotten. The antiquarian interest of the county is still further increased by the raths found in various places. These, with their deep moats and overgrowth of shrubbery and vines, often supply a lovely feature of scenic beauty.

Search for a copy of Bassett’s Wexford Guide and Directory, 1885