The Norman Way is a heritage route that runs along the south coast of County Wexford. Along this Wexford Trail you will discover authentic medieval sites which will help you to understand the Norman way of life. These hidden gems of the Norman Way are waiting to be explored by you down quiet country lanes, in beautiful seaside villages and alongside stunning beaches.
The Norman Way in Wexford is a true treasure of Ireland’s Ancient East. Lose yourself in this beautiful, ancient landscape as you discover the Norman way of life in the place where it first took hold in Ireland over 800 years ago.
Who were the Normans?
The Normans were descendants of Scandinavian Vikings who settled in Normandy, France. They invaded England in 1066 and a century later they came to Ireland.
Why did the Normans come to Ireland?
In 1169, Diarmuid McMurrough, the deposed Irish king of Leinster, brought Norman knights here to help him regain his kingdom. Those Norman forces first set foot on Irish soil at Bannow Bay on the south coast of Wexford.
After his arrival in Ireland the Norman knight Richard de Clare (also known as Strongbow) married McMurrough’s daughter Aoife. Following McMurrough’s death in 1171 Strongbow claimed his father-in-law’s lands and the Lordship of Leinster. Despite Irish resistance the Normans never left.
How did the Normans change Ireland?
As generations of Normans made their home here, their Norman way of doing things enhanced everyday life in Ireland.
Travel along the Norman Way in Wexford to meet the descendants of those Normans and to discover how the Normans:
– introduced their castles and fortifications to Ireland
– changed the nature of agriculture and food production here;
– developed large continental monasteries and stone churches on earlier Irish sites;
– used their military technology and international networks to take control in Ireland.
On this Norman Way website you can find information to help you locate and learn about the various sites that feature along the Norman Way; find out about some of the local businesses that can be enjoyed along the Norman Way; learn about cycling along the Norman Way; and read interesting local stories and information about the sites. The Norman Way is part of the Wexford Heritage Trail and is a true treasure of Ireland’s Ancient East.
On the use of the term ‘Norman’:
Please note that the Norman Way uses the term ‘Norman’ to refer to the Cambro-Norman forces who initially set foot on Irish soil in 1169 as well as those Cambro- and Anglo-Normans who came to Ireland in the decades and centuries that followed and greatly influenced everyday life in Ireland.
On the specific sites which feature along the Norman Way:
The sites highlighted on the Norman Way route are just a selection of the wonderful historical places found in south Wexford. There are several impressive medieval structures which can be seen near the Norman Way but which are not ‘official’ Norman Way sites. This is due to these sites being too far from the designated Norman Way route or due to the sites being inaccessible to visitors.
On ‘Norman Wexford’:
The Norman Way is just part of the broader Norman offering across county Wexford. The village of Ferns in north Wexford, the lost town of Carrick at the Irish National Heritage Park, the Ros Tapestry in New Ross, Johnstown Castle and more all offer locals and visitors further insight into the Norman history of Wexford.