The content below appears on the Norman Way interpretive panel at Kilmore Quay.
The text makes for interesting reading but there is nothing quite like visiting these authentic and under-explored heritage locations in person. Visit the beautiful Norman Way in Wexford to feel the history and age-old atmosphere coursing all around you.
The Graveyard of a Thousand Ships
Norman ships weren’t that different from Viking longships. They were fast moving and agile but the dangerous waters off the South Wexford coast proved a challenge even for them. In fact, the treacherous waters off Kilmore Quay and around the Saltee Islands are known locally as the ‘graveyard of a thousand ships’.
Ballyteige Castle, just outside Kilmore Quay Village, and Ballyhealy Castle nearby may have been Norman ‘fire towers’. ‘Fire towers’ were tall structures close to the coast that had a lit beacon at the top. Passing ships used them to navigate. There is evidence of promontory forts that may have been used as ‘fire towers’ on both nearby Saltee islands too.
The Secrets of the Saltees
The Saltee Islands are dotted with secret caves with names such as ‘Hell Hole’ and ‘Otters Cave’. Smugglers and pirates would have hidden their treasure on the islands from medieval through to modern times.
Discover the Norman Way for Yourself
A local tradition, believed to have been brought to this area by the Normans, is to place a small wooden cross in a particular tree after the funeral of a loved one.
Look out for these trees, covered in tiny wooden crosses, as you explore the Norman Way, especially around Kilmore Quay.
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