Zorro is a Wexford Man12/11/2018
Exploring County Wexford
Wexford is one of our favourite destinations for spontaneous weekend trips. Despite being three times as far from us as Dublin, there is no difference in travel time. Therefore we often rule in favour of less crowded Wexford over the busy capital.
It was Wexford where my husband and I took our first trip to on the train, when we were freshly in love. In Wexford it was where my sister and I bought the first baby clothes for our little one. Hence, I associate a lot with Wexford. Zorro, the man with the black mask I didn’t connect to the county capital until I was proven wrong. More about that later.
Wexford is not Dublin
On a lovely autumn Sunday we decided to take a trip down to Wexford again. We were looking forward to a bit of pottering around. The shopping area in Wexford’s town centre is ideal for us. Just big enough to not be boring and not too busy so we can have a look around in peace. After browsing the shops, there was a nice coffee in the sun on the horizon. That was our plan.
In the car on the way down we had been “bitching” about overcrowded Dublin. Only to find out shortly afterwards that the shops weren’t open in Wexford on a Sunday. We hadn’t even thought for a second that this might be the case. Wexford after all is not Dublin. Anyway, we went straight on to the coffee break by the water which was very enjoyable at least.
We changed plans and decided to take a drive along the coast and keep our eyes out for a nice restaurant. Instantly I pictured the three of us sitting on a sunny terrace by the water, taking in the Mediterranean feel that was in the air that day. Our well rested baby calmly eating his food in the high chair, while “mammy” enjoyed a glass of chilled white wine. So much for the picture in my head.
Touring County Wexford
Our journey along the coastal road was promising. The sun was splitting the stones, no clouds to be seen. The glistening sea to the right, lush green hills to the left. My husband was confidently stirring us through the twisty-turny country roads while myself and the little one were half snoozing in the car. I didn’t want to shut my eyes entirely as I enjoyed seeing all these amazing houses passing by. Long driveways leading up to mansions surrounded by huge gardens. Living in Dublin with all its compact built housing estates, lets one forget what it is like when space is not an issue.
The Beginning of a long Journey
My husband interrupted me in my daydreaming. “Let me know when you see something that looks like a pub”, he said. We were confident that we would find something soon. It was a popular holiday area after all, and we were still in season. We had just been passing through Curracloe which has one of the most stunning beaches in the area, though apparently no restaurant or pubs. The same in Blackwater which my husband remembered to be a great day out when he used to come down on holidays to the area. At this point we decided to consult the GPS. I am reluctant to use it on “joy rides”, but the good old roadmap didn’t help us with finding somewhere to make our tummies stop rumbling.
Turns out the Google Van hadn’t been here in a while either. After having pulled into two places that were supposed to be open but weren’t, we lowered our expectations for our anticipated Sunday lunch.
On a Food Quest
The next potential destination promised a varied menu and more importantly to be open according to its own website. Full of hope we zig-zagged our way through corn fields and remote villages. “You have reached your destination”, the GPS said when we pulled into a driveway of a huge mansion. We found ourselves at Wells House, a Victorian Tudor Gothic country house, which looked worth visiting. Not so, however, when you are asked to pay admission 1 hour before closing time. Especially when all you want is grabbing some food. The search continued.
We were still in good humour, when our little hungry monster in the back seat woke up. This left us with only a short window to find some place to eat. We had to rely on the GPS once more. By now we had come so far north that we were almost back home and could have targeted our own fridge. We decided to give it one last shot.
After about another 20 minutes of driving, the nice lady in the GPS lead us right into Courtown Woodland. We were supposed to find the restaurant we had aimed for straight ahead. Well, that wasn’t the case. Unless we couldn’t see the wood for the trees. Again, nice stop for a Sunday walk – not with empty stomachs though. It wasn’t until an actual person directed us to the restaurant, that we found ourselves with a nice meal, good service and happily ever after.
Zorro – The Man behind the Mask
At last the Home Restaurant in Courtown Harbour was our “saviour”. In the early 17th century it might have been Zorro. Yes, the “Robin Hood of Mexico” that helped people in need. But what does he have to do with Ireland? For the longest time I pictured him with a Spanish accent and a Latin American temperament.
Well, far from it! Born in Wexford as William Lamport in 1611, he could have indeed been a redhead. He was a well educated man and by the time he was 21 years old, he spoke 14 different languages. After studies in Dublin and London, he made his way to Spain from where he was later sent to Mexico. As opponent of the inquisition he led a dangerous and adventurous life. On the upside, this made him very attractive to the ladies. Until he was finally captured and burned at the stake. His legacy however is known to this day. Not least due to a story by Vicente Riva Palacio based on his character which them became known to us as Zorro (Source: Irish Times).
The first time I heard about this story was during a guided tour in Selskar Abbey, Wexford Town. The abbey itself is connected to a romantic story, but a lot of other interesting facts were mentioned as well. So if you would like to hear more about the regional and national history of Ireland – and Zorro of course – I can highly recommend the daily tour in Selskar Abbey.
More Tips for County Wexford
If you are down in Wexford for more than a day, take a drive to Hook Peninsula and its lighthouse. It is one of the oldest, still working lighthouses in the world and can be explored on a very entertaining tour. The views of the rather rough coastline are well worth a visit, too.
Or why not travel through 9000 (!) years of Irish history in Wexford Heritage Park? This amazing open-air museum is ideal for combining an educational stop with being outdoors and getting to know Irish culture throughout history.
For just a short break en-route I recommend the Seal Rescue Centre in Courtown. A small visitor centre provides information about the work of the volunteers. The highlight of course is seeing the cute little fellas from a short distance.