County of the Republic of Ireland, in the province of Leinster; county town Wexford; area 2,350 sq km/907 sq mi; population (2002) 116,600. Wexford is one of the most intensively cultivated areas in Ireland. The main crops are wheat, barley, beet, and potatoes. Fishing is important, the main fishing port being Kilmore Quay in the south; sheep and cattle rearing are also significant, as is dairy farming. Industries include agricultural machinery and food processing. Wexford was the first part of Ireland to be colonized from England; Normans arrived in 1169. The John F Kennedy Arboretum is one of the most popular visitor attractions in the county.
Physical The surface is hilly in the north and west, with a fertile, low-lying central plain, the highest peak being Mount Leinster (796 m/2,612 ft) in the Blackstairs Mountains. The principal rivers are the Barrow, the Nore, and the Suir (the ‘three sisters’), and the Slaney, and the principal towns Enniscorthy, Gorey, and New Ross. The county has long sandy beaches with a number of holiday resorts, including Ballymoney and Courtown, and the only inlet of importance is Wexford Harbour. Off the coast to the southeast is Tuskar Rock with a lighthouse (erected in 1815), and farther south are the Saltee Islands, the largest bird sanctuary in Ireland, beyond which there is a lightship (now a maritime museum). Waterford Harbour divides County Wexford from County Waterford.
Historical remains There are a number of ancient monuments in the county, including Dunbrody Abbey (12th century), Ferns Abbey (12th century), and the castles at Ferns (13th century) and Enniscorthy (1586); the latter has now been established as a county museum. County Wexford was an important centre of conflict during the Rebellion of 1798, and has a number of memorials to this rebellion; Vinegar Hill, near Enniscorthy, is the site of the final battle between the Wexford pikemen, or insurgents, and British troops.