Fethard-on-Sea is the perfect base to explore the stunning Hook Peninsula.
A quaint little spot in County Wexford, it has a population of just over 300, but numbers swell during the busy summer months.
Below, you’ll discover everything from things to do in Fethard-on-Sea to where to eat, sleep and drink. Dive on in!
Some quick need-to-knows about Fethard-on-Sea
Although a visit to Fethard-on-Sea is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Fethard-on-Sea is located on the wild Hook Peninsula – a dramatic landscape that offers an incredible coastline, bays and white sandy beaches. It’s a 30-minute drive from New Ross and a 40-minute drive from both Wexford Town and Kilmore Quay.
2. An often overlooked staycation destination
While County Wexford doesn’t lack for tourists, the Hook Head Peninsula is often overlooked, meaning that those lucky enough to spend a few nights here can enjoy the tranquillity of the area and its incredible beaches.
3. The Ring of Hook
Fethard-on-Sea is part of the Ring of Hook, an hour-long coastal drive that allows you to take in the jaw-dropping coastal scenery and some of the country’s most important built heritage.
Fethard-on-Sea has a population of just over 300 and its main industries are fishing and tourism. The village’s known history dates from the 12th century when the Normans invaded Ireland.
James I granted Fethard a charter in the 17th century and it then became a municipal borough. A harbour was built in 1798, which was where French troops landed during the revolutionary wars.
Fethard became Fethard-on-Sea in 1914 after a lifeboat capsized off its coast and nine of its crew were lost. Sympathy and donations from around the world poured in, some of which ended up being misdirected to Fethard in County Tipperary.
In 1957, the Fethard Boycott came about when Catholic villagers boycotted Protestant-owned local businesses in response to Sheila Cloney’s actions – a Protestant woman who left her husband and took her children with her to avoid being forced to send them to the local Catholic school.
The boycott received national and international attention and a film, A Love Divided, was made about the case in 1999.
Things to do in Fethard-on-Sea (and nearby)
There’s a handful of things to do in Fethard-on-Sea and there’s endless places to visit a short spin away, which make it a great base to explore from.
Below, you’ll find everything from historical sites and walks to beaches, coves and plenty more.
1. Fethard Castle
The large stone castle was built in the 14th and 15th centuries, probably by the Bishop of Ferns as a summer residence. The oldest part of the castle is a gatehouse on the eastern side of the building.
During the latter part of the Middle Ages, several bishops resided at Fethard to avoid being attacked by the native Irish in north Wexford. The castle became the property of the Loftus family in the 17th century.
2. Beaches galore
The Hook Peninsula is home to some of the best beaches in Wexford and you’ll find many a short spin away from the town.
Nearby Baginbun Beach is the most popular with visitors and locals alike, but the nearest to Fethard is Grange Beach.
3. The Ring of Hook
One of the more popular things to do in Fethard-on-Sea is to head off on the Ring of Hook Drive. Now, although this only takes a hour when driven straight, allow at least 1/2 a day.
On the way, you will see Tintern Abbey and Collclough Walled Garden, the Saltmills Village, Fethard Castle, The Windmill, Loftus Hall, Hook Lighthouse, Limekiln, Dollar Bay, Duncannon Fort and plenty more.
4. Hook Lighthouse
Hook Lighthouse is the oldest operational lighthouse in the world. It was purpose built by the knight, William Marshall, and inside you will step back in time on a guided tour that explains life in Medieval Ireland and what it was like to be a lighthouse keeper.
As you might expect, there are some spectacular views from the balcony where you can see the sea for miles around and there’s a visitor centre with a gift shop and exhibits.
5. Loftus Hall
Loftus Hall is a large mansion house on the Hook peninsula. The Redmond family built the hall in the 14th century to replace the castle. It remained in the hands of the Redmond family until the 1650s, when it was given to the Loftus family as part of the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland.
The building that exists today was heavily renovated by the Marquis of Ely in the late 19th century. The building was sold in 2021 and it can now only be admired from afar.
6. Duncannon Fort (and beach)
Duncannon Fort is a bastioned fortress positioned on the side of the Hook Peninsula. The historic structure has been around for 450 years and is the best vantage point to take in the beautiful Waterford Estuary.
The tricky thing here is the opening times – Duncannon Fort can only be accessed between July and August each year, so it’s worth booking a ticket when the portal opens.
7. Tintern Abbey
Founded by William Marshall (him again!) for the Cistercian order, the monks lived and worked at Tintern Abbey for centuries. After the dissolution of the religious houses, the Colclough family took over possession of the abbey.
Now, although the abbey is well worth exploring, the surrounding area is home to the brilliant Tintern Trails – some of our favourite walks in Wexford.
They vary in length but the beauty of them is that they tend to be very quiet outside of the busier summer months.
Although there’s no hotels in Fethard-on-Sea, there’s several excellent guesthouses servicing the area. Here are our favourites:
1. Baginbun Lodge
This 12-bedroom lodge is finished to high quality standards and offers a personal service to all guests, serving complimentary teas and coffees through visitors’ stays and will supply you with all the information you need on the area.
2. Sanibel B&B
Sanibel B&B has three spacious, well-furnished rooms that are suitable for couples, families or groups of friends. It offers a drop and collect service to the village and local restaurants.
3. The Stable
The Stable is a holiday home with a bedroom, dining area and kitchen with a microwave. There is off-read parking, an enclosed garden and external laundry room. Well-behaved dogs are welcome.
Fethard-on-Sea pubs and restaurants
1. The Wheelhouse Café
The Wheelhouse Café is a family friendly café is on the main street in Fethard and offers all day breakfasts, fresh sandwiches, main courses and home-made puddings and it stocks a range of wines.
2. Molloys Bar
This friendly, family-run local bar welcomes all walks of life and has been known to play host to the odd celebrity here and there… (Noel Gallacher). Customers rave about the great atmosphere and the warm welcome.
3. Neville’s Gastro Bar
If you’re a fan of fish and chips, Neville’s Gastro Bar is a must-visit for its crisply battered fillets and house fries. There’s also the prawn and monkfish Thai red curry. Takeaway available.
4. Templars Inn
The Templars Inn Seafood Bar & Restaurant services delicious, locally sourced fresh sea food every day from 12.30pm to 9pm. There’s an extensive outdoor seating area where you can eat while looking out on fabulous sea views, making it a great place to relax post walks or drives around the Hook Peninsula.
FAQs about visiting Fethard-on-Sea
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Where is there to stay?’ to ‘Which nearby beach is best?’.
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Are there many things to do in Fethard-on-Sea?
In Fethard-on-Sea itself you have the castle and the Fethard Castle Trail. Nearby, there’s endless places to visit under 15 minutes away (see above).
Is Fethard-on-Sea worth visiting?
If you’re not staying here, the only reason to visit would be for food (see above) or for the castle. It makes a great base to explore from, though!
Emma Baird is a lifestyle editor and novelist. She has worked in the communications industry for more than 25 years, and loves animals, the countryside and lingering in a great pub for the food and the craic.