Southeast Ireland | County Wexford
Hook Peninsula is located on the southeastern tip of County Wexford and is considered one of the sunniest and dry places in Ireland. Except good weather and picturesque landscapes you will find there some important historic sites, beautiful beaches and excellent local cuisine. It's also great place for water sports enthusiasts, sea anglers, bird and whale watchers. Even though it is a popular tourist destination is not overcrowded. The Ring of Hook drive will guide you around the peninsula showing its most interesting tourist attractions. If you go from New Ross by road R733, the first place which you should see is Dunbrody Abbey founded by the Anglo-Norman, Hervey de Montmarisco (uncle of Strongbow) in 12th century. Going 5km south by road R733 you reach the village of Ballyhack. You will find there a five storey tower house from the 16th century - Ballyhack Castle, which is open to the public in summer time. There is also ferry service to Passage East harbour from where is just 10 km to Waterford City (the ferry operates throughout the year and the journey takes about 10min). Another interesting place along the way is picturesque fishing village of Duncannon, located 5km south from Ballyhack. There is wide range of accommodation, including hotel, B&B's, holiday homes and caravan park. There are two restaurants serving fresh local food and a cozy ambiance. With no doubt the biggest tourist attraction of the village is Duncannon Fort, established in 1588 to protect coast from the Spanish Armada and the pirates attacking trade ships. On every June Bank holiday weekend there is annual event consisting of military vehicles show and reconstructions of historical battles. Below the fort there is a beautiful, long sandy beach with stunning views of entire bay. Moving south of Duncannon towards Hook Head, after about 10 km you encounter 13th-century church, founded by the Knights Templar, which Henry II granted these lands in the 12th century. The next attraction, the Loftus Hall, is just 1.5 km from the medieval church, along the way to Hook Lighthouse. This 17th-century manor house (re-built by the Marquis of Ely in the 19th century) is one of the most haunted houses in Ireland (unfortunately is open to the public only in summer time, check opening days on their website www.loftushall.ie). The main attraction of the peninsula, Hook Lighthouse is located only 3 km south of Loftus Hall. It is the oldest operating lighthouse in Europe and is open for public all year round. The area around the lighthouse is a great place for walking and searching for fossils. There is path leading through cliffs to a nearby fishing village of Slade, where you can see 15th-century Slade Castle (is not open to the public). If you do not feel like walking to the village of Slade, you still can visit it on your way back from Hook Head. Returning from the Hook Lighthouse, turn right at the fork after the ruins of a Knights Templar Church. In the fishing village of Fethard-on-Sea, there is a ruin of 15th century castle (there is high fence around the castle and you can see it only from some distance). Driving north through R734, after about 6 km (road signs will guide you directly) you will reach the Tintern Abbey. The Cistercian abbey, founded about the year 1200, and later converted into a castle, which is open to the public and also offers pleasant walks around the abbey grounds.