Three Rocks Trail brings alive the historical events of 1798, in particularly the Battle of the Three Rocks; a famous victory for the rebels which allowed the capturing of Wexford Town unheeded a day later. The route also passes alongside historical and archaeological landmarks, a number which are listed monuments.
The trail route crosses a mixture of terrains such as country roads, pedestrian footpaths, forestry roads and wooded and open pathways. There are panoramic hilltop views across Wexford, the Wexford coastline and neighboring counties. It is possible to view several counties from Forth Mountain. There is natural vegetation such as heather and furze, and wildlife, along the route which provides an added attraction.
The Barntown Heritage Group (in partnership with Wexford County Council, the Irish Government, Fisheries Local Action Group, Coillte, and the Ferrycarrig Hotel) have completed substantial upgrade and modernisation works to the trail, which been in existence since 1998. In 2020 the trail up will be accredited by Sport Ireland Trail and officially reopened to the public.
Type of Route: Linear
Distance: 13.6km (8.5 miles)
Walking time: 2.5hrs
Waymarking: Old Three Rocks Direction Signs in Brown (Upgrade required)
Grade: Moderate to Challenging
Osi Discovery Map Series 77
Grid Reference: T 01633 23260
Sat Nav: 52.351820, -6.5089660
Skeator Park Trailhead:
Osi Discovery Map Series 77
Grid Reference: S 969 166
Sat Nav: 52.293, -6.580
1998 Trail Map
1. Trail Head – Ferrycarrig Castle and Bridge
The ruined castle was a 13-century keep/tower house located on a rock outcrop overlooking the River Slaney. It was built by the Roche family, one of the original Norman invaders to protect the ferry crossing. The first bridge was built at this point in 1795 by Cox. It was used by the Rebels to cross the Slaney on their way to the Three Rocks camp. That original bridge was replaced with a toll bridge and later replaced by the present bridge in 1980.
The round tower was built on the site of the first Norman Castle in Ireland, a hastily built fortress of timber. The tower is a memorial to the Wexford Soldiers who died in the Crimean War. It stands at 27m high and was built in 1858. The monument is enclosed by the Irish National Heritage Park which is situated in a beautiful setting on the banks of the Slaney. The Park is an outdoor museum, which covers the period from 7000BC to the 12th Century (Norman Invasion).
This ancient church ruin was dedicated to St Nicholas of Myra and was under the jurisdiction of Selskar Abbey in Wexford. In the surrounding graveyard lies Lieutenant Colonel Jonas Watson who was shot by rebels while attacking the rebel camp. Nearby Carrig River famed in song, meanders gently to the Slaney.
4. Site of attack on mounted Yeomanry
At this point Lieutenant Colonel Jonas Watson was shot while leading a charge of mounted Yeomanry from Wexford against rebels at the Three Rocks.
The ruined castle was also built by the Roche Family. It was used as a watchtower and storehouse for Ferrycarrig Castle. It was a three-storied edifice 12m in height with walls over 1m thick.
This Church was constructed to a design by the famed architect A.W. Pugin. It was opened in 1848 and is one of the finest examples of Pugins work in the Diocese of Fern.
7. The old Church and School
South of the village of Barntown is the ruin of the Church which was used in 1798. Beside it was the old parish school, a single room building with one teacher it was used until 1871 when a new school was built.
8. The Three Rocks Campsite
The main body of insurgents camped on the eastern end of Forth Mountain with scattered units along the northern side and outlooks towards Taghmon. A detachment of Meath Militia on its way from Duncannon Fort to Wexford Town was attacked by rebels who captured arms and the all-important heavy Howitzers. After this battle the Garrison troops evacuated the Town of Wexford. On the 30th of May the rebels entered Wexford Town unopposed and declared Ireland’s first republic. At this location a monument was erected ‘in memory of the Gallant Insurgents who triumphed over English Forces [in] 1798’ representing an integral component of the twentieth-century built heritage of County Wexford.
9. Murrays Rock
The main insurgent lookout point near the Three Rocks campsite named after Daniel
Murray, a teacher in the local school in the mid-1800’s.
10. Battle Site
The battle of the Three Rocks was one of the most important of the 1798 Rebellion. General Thomas Cloney commanded the rebel force, which attacked and defeated the Meath Militia under Captain Adams on May 30th and made the occupation of Wexford Town possible.
Some of the Meath Militia who were killed in the battle of the Three Rocks are said to have been buried in this Graveyard.
12. Carrigfoyle Rock
This is a well-known viewing point, which allows panoramic views across the four compass points. The name is derived from ‘Carrig an Faill’, the ‘Cliff Rock’. There is a local tradition that an underground cavern runs from this rock to Ferrycarrig.
13. Carrigshinna, Ravens Rock
This is a very beautiful part of Forth Mountain with cliffs, crags, valleys and woods and the unique Forth Mountain floral associations. Carrigshinna means ‘Rock of the Fox’. Two of the three raven rocks are located nearby.
Clourane ‘rock mound’ is a collection of loose stones near the pinnacle of Forth Mountain. The legend describes how St. Munna, founder of the nearby Church and Village of Taghmon collected these rocks to build a monastery but moved to Taghmon when he heard the chimes of the church which St. Mannan had already built near Cleriestown. The two Saints later became friends.
15. The Raven Rock
The three baronies of Forth, Bargy and Shelmalier meet at the Raven Rock. ‘Forth’ is derived from ‘Fothart’, brother of the 3rd century High King ‘Conn’ of the hundred battles. The name ‘Bargy’ is derived from ‘Ui Bhairrche’ a tribe who lived there. The name ‘Shelmalier’ is derived from ‘Siol Maelughra’ ‘the seed of Maliere’. Such items of history were taught in hedge schools of Forth Mountain in 1798.
16. Jim Furlong’s House
This is a typical ‘Forth Mountain House’ with two compartments built of stone. Houses at the lower elevations were of mud and the stone houses of Forth Mountain are unique. Jim played the fiddle and this was a well-known ‘Celli House’ up to 60 years ago.
17. Skeater Rock
‘Skeater’ is derived from ‘Sceach Tor’ or ‘Bushy Summit’. There is a cairn or prehistoric burial mound near Skeater Rock. A Funerary urn was found in the vicinity. The viewing point gives commanding views of South Wexford and East Waterford Coastline and was used by the men of Shelmalier as a lookout in 1798.
18. Carrigatinna Rock (Rock of Fire)
This craggy outcrop to the south of Skeater Rock, which fraughan laden and covered in heather blooms in autumn. This rock overlooks the old road travelled by the Meath Militia.
19. Trail Head – Forestry Car park at Skeeter Park, Cleriestown.
Construction of the Newline Road adjoining this Car Park began in the early 1800’s and was completed in 1810. It is a direct route from Duncannon Fort to Wexford Town and was built to ensure rapid transit of troops and cannon from Duncannon to Wexford in the wake of the’98 Rebellion.