Wexford means holiday time for a lot of Irish people and each summer sees families descend on the many fine beaches in numbers. There is a good deal of variety, and everyone has their favourite, from the almost unending sands of Brittas Bay to the smaller beach at Duncannon, surrounded by history.
Being family holiday territory, there are numerous camping and caravan sites, B&Bs and lots of activities on offer, with some good surfing and plenty of other water sports on offer in the area around each beach.
A relatively recent claim to fame for Curracloe is as the place where the beach scenes in the movie ‘Saving Private Ryan’ were filmed. Long before that though it was a popular beach, with soft fine sand, and a long dune system which is of international environmental importance. Lifeguards are on duty in the summer and there is a large car park. A rare and wonderful thing is that there are beach wheelchairs available locally – ask at the Surf Shack.
Curracloe village is sleepy in the Winter but as a long established seaside resort it comes alive in Summer, with lots of amenities for visitors, including pitch and putt, tennis, water sports, angling, horse riding and walking as well as good and plentiful options for eating. The nearby Raven Nature Reserve and Forest is a good spot for walks if you need respite from the beach.
Ballymoney, North Beach
A popular beach with locals, safe and sandy and with some fun high dunes to roll down. There is a small car park nearby but it’s usually full in the summer. Ballymoney village, about a mile away, is small but has golf, pitch and putt, craft shops and a couple of nice pubs that do good food.
There are lifeguards on duty during the summer months. The south beach is also attractive but isn’t safe for bathing. However if you want a nice quiet spot to sunbathe on a sunny day it’s a good place to retreat.
One of several beaches which claim to be the longest in Ireland – it’s also known as the Golden Mile – this sandy beach with dunes to the back is safe and clean and a very popular destination for families. There are several caravan and camping sites nearby as well as bed and breakfast accommodation, but other than that amenities are few – it’s a very rural location.
There is excellent shore angling here, with specimen sized fish of many species regularly caught and angling competitions on the beach are a familiar sight.
A narrow beach with fine sand and some shingle, this is one of the most popular beaches along the east coast, and has been a resort area for well more than a century. Courtown itself is a harbour town and well used to catering for visitors, with lots of places to eat and drink, organise water sports of various kinds or hire surf suits.
The north beach is most popular and has lifeguards on duty all summer. It is backed by sand dunes, beyond which are some very pleasant wooded areas suitable for walking or a sheltered picnic in a place where you won’t get sand in your sandwiches!
The south beach is smaller and quieter, and though not suitable for swimming is a great place to lie in the sun away from the crowds.
If you’ve a party of mixed beach lovers and beach haters, Duncannon is the place to go. The beach is sandy and very shallow – getting to the water can mean a walk as long as 200m when the tide is out. Its shallowness makes it a very safe place for small kids to paddle and splash and lifeguards are available most of the time in Summer.
But Duncannon is about more than the beach. It’s the place where the ‘three sisters’ rivers – the Nore, the Suir and the Barrow, join up and enter the sea. There are interesting historic places to visit locally, including Duncannon Fort, two martello towers and a beautiful old church at Blackhill. The quay and working harbour in the village are great places to linger and watch the fishing boats come in – fresh fish will be on the menu in local restaurants. You can work up an appetite with a bracing walk around the headland.
Locals will tell you that this is the sunniest spot in Ireland – and strictly speaking they are right, records consistently record more sunny days here than anywhere else. But that’s not the whole story – it isn’t either the warmest or the driest place. Not surprisingly though in a country where sunshine is at a premium it’s been a popular resort since Victorian times, with a long sandy beach and several highly regarded golf courses close by.
The beach is prone to erosion and a number of breakwaters and rock armours are in place to help retain sand. They are moderately successful so far, but you’d wonder about the effect of rising sea levels and whether Rosslare will still be a resort in another hundred years. There are good local amenities, including the famed Kelly’s Hotel, rated as one of the best resort hotels in Ireland.
Nearby Rosslare Harbour, visible from the beach, is a very busy ferry port, with regular sailings to the UK and France and a train station with trains to and from Dublin.