Few towns like Wexford Town – Loch Garman – can boast a millennium of nautical involvement in which its shallow estuary has been a gateway to waves of invaders.
The Vikings, Anglo-Normans and English, who – to paraphrase the poet Donagh MacDonagh - were quietly engulfed by the soft land, their conquest lost.
Their cosmopolitan legacy, however, does live on in Wexford’s tight streets: both history and modernity leap into life through the arts, particularly music and literature.
For Wexford (population 20,000) is the breeding ground of Eoin Colfer, Billy Roche, John Banville, Colm Toíbín – giants of contemporary Irish literature – and is the stage for the country’s biggest and oldest arts festival, Wexford Festival Opera. Conceived of one misty autumn in 1951, it celebrates its seventieth anniversary in 2021.