We recently crossed the Suir and Barrow rivers to visit our neighbours in Wexford to discover some new attractions in terms of crafts and visitor amenities. The county has many interesting places like the Kennedy homestead and the Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience, the Hook Lighthouse, the John F Kennedy Arboreturn, The Irish National Heritage Park and Tintern Abbey, where there are nice walking trails, close to the meeting of the Three Sisters. We met with Mairead Stafford a potter with plenty of original ideas. She is combining the influence of nature with the forest and coastline near her beloved Curracloe and nearby Ravens Point wood that runs close to the sea and the Slob lands.
She has put together various artistic designs on ceramics reflecting the beautiful Wexford countryside.
Her workshop at Castlebridge is a few miles over the Slaney from Wexford town. She hosts workshops for various customers, from team building work groups to schools and even disability groups. It is proving a winning combination. She finds in this digital world that people like to get their hands dirty and make something. School kids are also fascinated by it and she works with local secondary schools creating murals and ceramic wall panels for reception areas and school halls. Work groups are others seeking time off and doing team building skills with pottery, even families book time to make pottery together.
Mairead later took us to the creative hub in the Cornmarket, owned by Eamon Butler, the owner of South East Radio. This Makers House sees studios for various artists working with stained glass with Bianca Divito. There’s also silk, photographic pieces, sculpture, metal, woodcraft, ceramics, painting and jewellery on display there, all of which make for great Christmas gifts. Afterwards we did some cycling and walking around the town for lunch – we recommend the Green Acres bar and restaurant, which is in a fabulous location. We had a delightful nice seafood dish and cheeses at Green Acres, where they also have great wine and deli foods in their shop, in addition to vintage wines and a fantastic art gallery.
The maitre’d, who comes from Vannes in the French Celtic province of Brittany, told us about the art.
Nearby is the flourishing Wexford Arts centre, where they had an exhibition in early November on protest photos depicting topics like the Arab spring to Brexit marches, as well as demonstrations in New York and women’s marches. We would later stay over at the comfortable Ferrycarrig Hotel, near the Heritage Park where a superb dinner is provided at the Reeds restaurants at €39 per head for three to four courses in addition to a great wine list. Locals say it’s one of the best places to eat in the town and booking required.
Other places for food suggested are Cistin Eile on Main Street, Donna Marina for tapas from Naples, formerly an Italian restaurant, the Marine at Kelly’s in Rosslare and Roches bar in Duncannon. The Crown Bar is great for live music and of course the Wexford Opera House is a superb location for shows. The next day we had another fresh walk following an early swim in the hotel pool and spa, in addition to a stint in the sauna.
This was followed by some relaxation time chilling at the Creacon Wellness Retreat near New Ross, where we did a 40 minute session of Tibetan yoga. This involved five major stretches and movements, quite strenuous, we may add as our Czech instructor Marcella put us though our paces. Next up was Suzanna from the USA, who has lived for many years in Ireland. She does quality meditation and gong therapy and also has fantastic enthusiasm.
She and her colleague Dean can also work on body ailments with a strong massage therapy and treatments if required and are great un tying some old knots in one’s body. Manager Salvo from Italy says Susanna has great interest and passion for her work and reflects the ideals of Creacon Lodge, which is owned by Dubliner, Derek O Neill. A light lunch was also included in our session. Specially priced packages are available and are well worth considering during Christmas for some welcome unwinding.For those who want a new year with a difference they have a special New Years Eve offer too. Ferrycarrig Hotel also have good offers for €210, including a gourmet weekend with two nights Bed and Breakfast with dinner at Reeds, one of Leinster’s top five restaurants.
Visit www.visitwexford.ie for a full range of activities on offer in Wexford. For winter escapes to the Ferrycarrig Hotel book online at www.ferrycarrighotel.ie. You can also visitwww.creaconwellnessretreat.com for Yoga and Meditation packages, along withwww.greenacres.ie and www.maireadstaffordartist.com.