Sunday May the 13th is the selected day for the much anticipated, initial outing of the year to the Hook Lighthouse and area which features many attractions of broad interest in County Wexford. A coach, departing from Dean Street at 10.00, will bring participants to Barrow Side New Ross for a welcome mid morning suss before travelling on through the scenic and historic Hook peninsula to the oldest operational light-house in Europe where a guided tour has been arranged.
Along the way many dramatic stories will be recalled. The Knights Templar foundations in Kilclogan and Ballyhack/Templetown for example. The order founded about 1118 for the primary purpose of protecting pilgrims travelling to Jerusalem was in constant disputes with their arch-rivals The Knights Hospitallers. In Ireland, arrested Templars were imprisoned in Dublin Castle and tried in St Patrick’s Cathedral in 1310, and while there were no tortures or executions in Ireland or England, the order was dissolved here as elsewhere in Europe and its possessions transferred to the Hospitallers.
The colourful if some what sinister story of gaunt and abandoned Loftus Hall will be discussed along the way. Our destination, the Hook Lighthouse is very well presented and offers a guide service, extensive memorabilia on display and a well stocked and welcoming café where we will dine.
Echoes of a much more recent conflict - the Second World War will be to the fore as we visit Campile. Ireland remained officially neutral during World War II. However, on 26 August 1940, the German Luftwaffe bombed Campile in broad daylight. Three women were killed. Four German bombs were dropped on the creamery and restaurant sections of Shelburne Co-op. The railway was also targeted by the bombers. The attack has never been fully explained although there are numerous theories as to why the bombing occurred.
After lunch – available at the Hook Centre or BYO picnic- the tour continues via Arthurstown, Ballyhack and historic Dunbrody Abbey. Founded in 1170, on the instructions of Strongbow, this is one of the finest examples of a Cistercian Monastery in Ireland. It was completed circa 1220, but additions may have continued for some time. Herve de Montmorency made a grant of the lands to the monks of Shropshire, England on condition that they build an Abbey here for some monks of the Cistercian, or White Order (they wore white robes), and upon condition that there should be sanctuary there in the Abbey for all malefactors.
The day’s outing journeys on to New Ross where, continuing the nautical theme, we explore the Dunbrody Famine Ship. A fully conducted guided tour of this living museum which has been arranged will be enjoyed.
The summer outing organised by the Kilkenny Archaeological Society will be led by local man Pat Nolan who has secured a considerable fan club for his conducted coach outings and this one is unlikely to be any less entertaining and informative.
Prior booking is required by ringing Rothe House (056 772 2893). The fare for this fully conducted tour including morning coffee, all admission fees, in addition to the coach itself is a manageable thirty euro. Peter McQuillian, President, Kilkenny Archaeological Society, has stressed that all are welcome on these summer outings and they are certainly not restricted to members of Kilkenny Archaeological Society.