New Ross is a great little town to explore many of the best places to visit in Wexford from.
Situated on the River Barrow, New Ross is a lively little town that’s home to the mighty Dunbrody Famine Ship and plenty more.
Below, you’ll discover everything from things to do in New Ross to where to eat, sleep and drink. Dive on in!
Some quick need-to-knows about New Ross
Although a visit to New Ross in County Wexford is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Located in the southeast of the island of Ireland, New Ross is a 25-minute drive from the Hook Peninsula, a 30-minute drive from both Fethard-on-Sea and Enniscorthy and a 35-minute drive from Wexford Town.
2. A great base to explore Wexford, Waterford and Carlow
New Ross is a handy spin from many of Wexford, Waterford and Carlow’s top attractions. From hikes and walks to places to historical significance, like Tintern Abbey, and places of outstanding natural beauty, like the Hook Peninsula, there’s plenty to see and do nearby (more info below).
3. The JFK link
Long before he was President of the United States of America, John F. Kennedy’s great grandparents left Dunganstown, near New Ross, for the US. They arrived in 1849. It was during JFK’s visit in June of 1963, that he returned to his ancestral home to a hero’s welcome.
About New Ross
Before its name was anglicised to New Ross, the area was known as ‘Ros Mhic Thriúin/Ros Mhic Treoin’ in Irish. A busy port town, New Ross dates back as far as the 6th century to the monastery that St. Abban founded.
Since then the town has been home to or has had connections with some heavyweights from Irish history.
Dermot McMurrough, a Leinster King, international knight William Marshall and his bride Isabella de Clare in the early 1200s, right through to infamous King John, and of course the Kennedy’s and their political legacy.
In recent years, the town has seen the launch of the Dunbrody Famine Ship experience and the John F Kennedy Arboretum to the Ros Tapestry Exhibition Centre.
Things to do in New Ross (and nearby)
There’s a handful of things to do in New Ross and there’s endless places to visit closeby.
Here’s some suggestions on what to see and do, from hikes and walks to museums, tours and more.
1. John F Kennedy Arboretum
The John F Kennedy Arboretum was built and dedicated to the memory of America’s 35th president; John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK), whose ancestors set off from near New Ross to forge a new life.
The arboretum is the town’s living dedication to the Kennedy family, and their famous son, and was designed on a presidential scale. Covering over 250-hectares, and with 4,500 varieties of temperate trees and shrubs from around the world, it’s one of the largest collections in the world.
The arboretum is free to enter, and there is a Visitor Centre on-site where you can learn more about its history and plants. Toilets are available at the centre, but not on the grounds.
2. Kelly’s Wood
Strike out across either of the trails and breath deep the fresh forest air as you explore. The wood is only a 5-minute drive south of central New Ross, or you can walk there in around 40-minutes.
Once there, you can park in the small unsealed, off-road car park, and set off on either the Blue Limekiln or Red Oaklands trail. Both are considered to be ‘easy’, and ascend 23-metres during the walk.
The Blue trail covers approx. 1.2km/0.75mi in about 20-minutes, whilst the Red trail meanders a bit more and covers approx. 2.8km/1.75mi in around 45-minutes. Discover the remains of the icehouse and kiln from John Tyndall’s 17th-century house, along with wet woodlands, downy birch, holly, rowans, amongst others.
3. The Ros Tapestry Exhibition Centre
Sat on the banks of the River Barrow, on The Quay in New Ross, is where you’ll find the incredible Ros Tapestry. Begun in 1998, and with over 150 stitchers involved in creating 15 exceptionally large tapestries, the Ros Tapestry is a permanent exhibition and depicts Irish history and its connection to Norman history.
Inspired by the Bayeux Tapestry, each of the 6ft x 4.5ft panels depicts a different historic event. The panels capture the essence of Irish life before, during, and after the Norman invasion from the 1200s onwards.
To date, 14 of the 15 panels have been completed, with the final piece to be completed in Kilkenny during its exhibition there.
4. The Kennedy Homestead
Follow the bending River Barrow south along the Wexford and Kilkenny border, and you’ll come to the Kennedy Homestead. Ancestral home to the ever-popular American political family, it was here that JFK’s great-grandfather left during the Great Famine.
Inside, you can learn more about the most famous Irish-American family and Irish history of the mid-19th century, and view both personal and national memorabilia from the Kennedy family.
The site is open to visitors daily, from 09:30-05:30pm, with the last admission at 05:00pm. There’s ample parking at the rear of the property, and access is from the village of Duganstown.
5. Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience
Whilst in New Ross, and visiting the nearby ‘Kennedy’ attractions, it’s well worth stopping off at the Dunbrody Famine Ship Experience.
The ship is a reproduction of the many vessels that made the perilous voyage, across the wild Atlantic seas, to the Americas in the 1800s, carrying refugees from the Great Famine who were desperate to survive and start a new life.
Onboard, there are tours with costumed guides, exhibitions of life at sea, and interpretive educational displays that explain what the passengers endured.
6. Woodville House and Gardens
North of New Ross, off the R700, is the Georgian House that was the former home of the Roche family. Inhabiting the house since 1876, the family have dedicated themselves to maintaining the enchanting gardens with its water garden, and mature trees.
Tour the two-storey house and step back in time into Georgian order and finery. With Ornate ceilings, grand fireplaces, and some original pieces of furniture, the house is filled with period charm.
rom there, explore the extensive gardens and parkland that surround the house, and unwind as you discover the hidden secrets in this horticultural delight.
7. St Mullins
Drift a little further downriver from New Ross, and you’ll come upon the picturesque village of St. Mullins in Carlow. Feed the ducks and geese at the lock on the River Barrow, and you can relax and watch narrowboats make their way along the gently flowing waterway.
Perhaps you’d enjoy getting up close and personal with history, and wander through the St. Mullins cemetery, it’s filled with ancient headstones that bear familiar names.
St. Mullins is also known for the holy well, St. Moling’s Well, and its legendary healing powers, and has been a pilgrimage site since the 1300s.
8. Dunbrody Abbey
Down by the mouth of the River Barrow, just opposite the large town of Waterford, you’ll find the historic ruins of Dunbrody Abbey. Dating back to the 1200s, the site was a former Cistercian monastery, with a cross-shaped main church, and a tower added later in the 1400s.
Now in ruins, as a result of Britain’s Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries from 1536, the site makes for a wonderful picnic spot, due to the extensive ruins that can be explored at will, the open fields that surround the abbey, the rippling nearby waters, and mystifying onsite maze.
9. The Hook Peninsula
It doesn’t come much more dramatic than Hook Peninsula; with the historic and spooky Loftus Hall, the jagged rocks that plunge into the sea at Hook Head Bay, and the towering Hook Lighthouse standing guard at the very tip of the peninsula.
New Ross accommodation
If you’re looking for accommodation in New Ross, there’s a handful of places to chose from with great results. Here are our favourites:
1. Beaufort House B&B
Situated to the north of New Ross, this B&B offers guests a choice of four double bedrooms and one room with two single beds, each room comes with an en-suite and is individually decorated. Breakfast is included with a superbly prepared ‘Full Irish’ cooked breakfast with parking on site.
2. Glendower House
On the eastern edge of New Ross, near the R723, Glendower House is a large single-storey B&B. With onsite parking, it’s perfect for quick and easy access to New Ross, and surrounding attractions. Rooms are comfortably appointed, with quality bedding, a TV, tea/coffee making facilities, en-suite, and a hearty Full Irish breakfast.
3. Brandon House Hotel
Just a 5-minute drive from central New Ross, the impressive Brandon House Hotel is without a doubt, the most luxurious hotel in the area. With spacious double rooms, fine dining in either the Gallery Restaurant, or the Library Bar, and Solas Croi spa, your stay here will be an escape from the ordinary.
Places to eat in New Ross
There’s some great places to eat in New Ross, depending on what you’re after. Here are a few of our favourite spots for a bite-to-eat:
1. The Cracked Teapot
Around the corner from The Ros Tapestry, on Mary St, The Cracked Teapot is your go-to spot for a quick bite. The vibe is country-casual, with an emphasis on great food, and better coffee. They’re open every day but Sunday, for dine-in or takeaway breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea.
2. Ann McDonalds Cafe & Bistro
Contemporary chic cafe-styling with a fusion of comfort food and Irish hospitality; it’s at Ann McDonalds Cafe & Bistro you’ll find familiar favourites, like homemade lasagne and battered cod, served with a smile. Open daily, from breakfast through to dinner, you can dine-in or enjoy a takeaway option.
3. The Captain’s Table
Leave the Dnbrody Famine Ship, and head over to the Visitor Centre’s first floor, that’s where you’ll find the restaurant with the best view of the river and the ship and hearty fare. Open daily, except Mondays, for breakfast through to an early dinner, they offer dine-in or takeaway options.
Pubs in New Ross
There’s some mighty pubs in New Ross with a mix of old-school trad bars and more gastro-style pubs on offer. Here are our favourites:
1. Corcorans Bar
To the northeast of New Ross’ centre, on Irishtown road, you’ll find the long stone building that’s home to Corcorans Bar. Open daily, the timber ceilings, floors, and polished bar feel like they stretch on for miles, which is just long enough to showcase the number of drinks available.
2. Mannion’s Pub
Not your ‘run of the mill’ pub, this cosy pub will have your jaw-dropping with its impressive surroundings, drinks selection, and dish presentation. Come for a quality meal, and stay for an unbelievable evening. A true gastro-pub, they’re open for lunch and dinner from Thursday to Sunday.
3. Three Bullet Gate Bar & Lounge
If you have dreams of visiting a proper Irish pub on your travels, then this is the one for you. Complete with old-school Tudor exterior, black and white tiling, wooden bar with comfortable stools, and a barkeep who knows his regulars; Three Bullet Gate Bar & Lounge is the spot for your craic.
FAQs about New Ross in Wexford
We’ve had a lot of questions over the years asking about everything from ‘Is it worth visiting?’ to ‘What is there to do when it rains?’.
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.
What are the best things to do in New Ross?
In the town, you have the JFK Arboretum and the Dunbrody Famine Ship along with the Ros Tapestry Exhibition Centre. There’s endless nearby attractions.
Is New Ross worth visiting?
If you’re in the area, New Ross is home to the Dunbrody Famine Ship and the brilliant John F Kennedy Arboretum. It also makes a good base to explore from.
Katherine is an food and travel writer with family-roots in Ireland. She enjoys hitting the road at every given opportunity, and can often be found with an atlas and notebook to hand planning the next big trip.