I’ve been really eager to introduce my boyfriend to as much Irish History as possible now that we’ve moved to Ireland permanently. So I suggested that we head for an afternoon out at The Irish National Heritage Park in Ferrycarrig, County Wexford.
Having visited the Park once as a child, I remembered it is set across acres (35 to be precise) of woods and wetland trails and offers a great insight into Ireland’s rich and interesting ancient history – so where better a place to start?
We arrived mid-afternoon to the Visitor Centre to purchase our tickets. Entry is reasonable and as the Park is a not-for-profit organisation, every cent goes back into the development, upkeep and maintenance required to keep the park at its best.
We had a choice of watching an audio-visual about the The Irish National Heritage Park to begin with, but as it wasn’t raining we wanted to get outside and explore straight away – so off we went.
Meandering through the trails, we were met with recreations of homes dating from a Middle Stone Age campsite right up to a Norman Castle. You can walk inside of these buildings to really get a feel for ancient life in Ireland. Some of the homesteads were pretty cosy, considering they consisted of some timber and sheepskin on stuffed straw for a bed.
We were particularly enamoured with the example of an early Christian Monastery – you can sit inside and watch an audio-visual on Ireland’s Christian beginnings some 1500 years ago. The original Monasteries, interestingly, began as centres of learning and creativity: very different to the Roman model of Christianity at the time and it was great to take a moment to sit and learn more.
An example of a Corn Drying Kiln and Water Mill offered interesting insights into the early and developing technology through the ages, as did each individual recreation of the developing ancient Irish home.
We had particular fun climbing into an example of a Viking Longboat in the Viking Boatyard.
Walking up to the Norman Castle and the Round Tower, there is a lovely little park for children to enjoy whilst you catch your breath.
One thing I really wasn’t expecting to find on our visit was the beautiful Faery Garden (Gaelic ‘Fairy’). We stumbled across a magical part of the woods covered with various Faery doors places on tree trunks and handmade toadstools. It was very sweet to see children peeking through the doors trying not to wake the Faeries but desperately trying to see one. It was a lovely little place to explore for both adults and children and something a little different off the beaten path.
This was a really cute added touch and better still, the company ‘The Faery Wood Shop’, who make the doors, had an area in the gift shop to purchase your own Faery accessories such as headbands, wings, wands, Faery and Leprechaun doors – all handmade and reasonably priced. I purchased my mum a little door to put in her garden – each one came with its own little bag of Magic Faery Dust (glitter) and a brief story about them. Oh to be seven again!
All in all it was a nice afternoon out. We stayed for around two hours but you could easily make an afternoon of it with the kids or family as there are special trails and activities for children – parking is plentiful and there is also a restaurant inside the Visitor Centre. I’d definitely recommend taking a drink for the walk – whilst it isn’t strenuous as such, the Park does require a fair bit of rambling around. It’s definitely worth a visit and as the park is undergoing further restoration, I will definitely be popping back soon to check out what’s been newly added.
Peace & Love