The Bottom Line
- Fascinating glimpse into Ireland's past in a spacious natural setting.
- Authentic reconstructions of buildings allow "hands-on-experience" of the past.
- Guided tours offer inside knowledge.
- Park can feel a bit deserted outside the tourist season.
- Reconstructed Irish, Viking and Norman buildings from prehistoric to Norman times bring the past to live.
- The Irish National Heritage Park includes tracks through woodlands and wetlands.
- Construction methods and building materials are as authentic as possible.
- Curious fact - the park is bisected by the Wexford-Dublin railroad, leading to occasional anachronistic photo opportunities.
Guide Review - Irish National Heritage Park, Ferrycarrig (County Wexford)
I visited the park twice - once on a hot summer day, joining a tour, seeing re-enactors bring the buildings alive. The other visit was in winter, comprised some flooded areas, no guide, no re-enactors and virtually no other visitors. Where both visits worth it? They certainly were ... the loneliness on a wet winter day allowing for more thorough inspection, the drip-drip-drip from roofs conveying a feeling how life really must have been between half-starvation and rheumatism.
Basically the park is worth a visit whatever the season and/or weather.
Visitors should, however, be aware that this is a theme park but no Disneyland - building materials and methods used are as original as possible. Starting with the pathways (irregular and "dirty" at times) and ending with the buildings themselves (low doorways and dark interiors abound). Instead of a sanitized version of Ireland's heritage you get a presentable, yet authentic, open-air museum.
As the reconstructions cover a wide period and everything from megalithic tombs to a Norman fortress picking favorites is hard. Among the highlights are
- a crannog, a Bronze Age homestead on an artificial island,
- a rath or ring-fort,
- a horizontal watermill,
- a monastic settlement complete with painted high cross and
- a Viking boatyard and farm on the lakeshore.
The museum has a souvenir shop and a restaurant to round off your visit.