Several councillors from the Wexford Borough District enjoyed the sunshine as they took a guided tour of some of Wexford's hidden historical gems on Thursday morning.
In recent weeks, Cllr Tom Forde once again raised the issue of some of Wexford's most historic graveyards and other sites being locked to the public and tourists who may wish to view them. This was noted by Catherine McLoughlin of Stafford McLoughlin Archaeology & Heritage Consultancy, who reached out to Cllr Leonard Kelly and offered to act as guide to point out some of the more interesting elements to the members with a view to improving access for the general public.
They visited the ruins of the old St Patrick's Church, parts of the old town wall at Rowe Street and the John Street Graveyard.
'There's a lot of amazing heritage and history there hidden away under lock and key,' said Cllr Kelly.
'A lot of work was done at the John Street graveyard around the time of the Redmond commemorations when the President visited, but since then it's been under lock and key again and the community of Wexford and tourists haven't seen the benefit of it.'
This point was rammed home when the group of councillors were approached by tourists as they awaited a look around St Patrick's.
'Before starting at St Patrick's Church we saw two French visitors attempt to access the site,' said Cllr Tom Forde. 'They were disappointed to find a locked gate and returned to their car. I stopped them to let them know we were just about to get a short tour. This underlines the potential benefit that accessible sites could provide to our tourism industry and the people of Wexford.'
Joined by fellow councillors George Lawlor, Garry Laffan and Maura Bell, the pair were fascinated by the tour.
'I think we need to set up some kind of heritage committee and get someone like Catherine on board,' said Cllr Kelly.
'We need to see how we can open up these historic sites to communities. It's a work in progress, but there's an eagerness by all of the councillors to get this done and push it along and make these sites more accessible.'
In the meantime, the keys for the towns historical sites are available to be signed out from the Wexford Borough District Office in The Bull Ring.