New Ross is the gateway to breathtaking scenery, secluded coastal bays and rolling hills. A short drive from the beautiful scenic coast of Co Wexford with its small fishing harbours and many fine beaches, it is a great place to visit! New Ross is a modern town, strategically located in the heart of Ireland’s Sunny South East Region. It is the first major town on the Euroroute from Rosslare Europort and is the gateway to the rest of Ireland. New Ross is also located at the head of an extensively navigable river system. New Ross acts as a transport hub to connect four centres of population:
Wexford - 37 Km (23 miles) Kilkenny - 43 Km (27 miles)
Enniscorthy - 30 Km (21 miles) Waterford City - 24 Km (15 miles)
New Ross, the gateway to the counties of Carlow, Kilkenny and Waterford, is found just south of the confluence of the River Barrow and the River Nore.
A Brief History
The earliest settlement in this area dates back to the 6th Century when St Abban founded a monastery in the Irishtown. The next important development in the history of the town is referred to in the chronicles of Ross in the British Museum.It records that in 1189, Isabella, daughter of Strongbow and wife of the Earl Marshal, set about “building a lovely city on the banks of the Barrow”. Her husband, William, Earl Marshall of England, built a fortress and bridge, which led to the establishment of the town.
Until the first bridge was built, the area was known as Ross Mic Treoin – the Wood of the son of Treon. The name was replaced with Nova Pontis or more accurately Nova Villa Pontis Willielme Marescalli in honour of the man who founded the first bridge.The Seal of the Earl Marshal shows an incident where a hound attacked a stag while both were crossing the bridge. The Earl Marshal and King Henry III were purported to have been present when the incident occurred. This crest subsequently became the town seal and is still the official seal of the New Ross Urban District Council.Isabella died in 1224 A.D. and a hiatus came in the development of the town and port. The town then became a dowry of the Earl of Norfolk, Richard Bigod and from this time onwards the town is usually referred to as Rosponte.
New Ross was a semi-circular walled town, due to its position on the river. The construction of the wall commenced in 1265 and covered an area of approximately 39 hectares. Around this time, the Normans also built a monastery in
Rosbercon. From mediaeval times, merchants exported local produce including salted meat and fish, wool, deer, lamb and wolf hides. They in turn imported valuable cloths, pottery, pewter, iron and brassware. They also imported and re-exported wine. Trade in the Port increased greatly during the second half of the 13th Century and was for a time the premier port in Ireland. All the major European languages could be heard on the quays during this time.
Up to 1869, when the sixth bridge across the Barrow was opened to traffic, the bridges and the docks were constructed of wood as timber was in plentiful supply. As time went by, the wharves were extended out into deeper water as the size and number of ships visiting the Port increased.Over the years, seven bridges have spanned the river Barrow to connect the Port of New Ross with its neighbours in Rosbercon. However, at various stages down through the centuries, the bridges collapsed from being allowed to fall into states of disrepair or were destroyed by armies. Oliver Cromwell built the third bridge by suspending a pontoon bridge across the river with the aid of three small ships. Once his army of 7,000 men had crossed the river, the bridge was dismantled and the ships pressed back into service at Duncannon Fort.During the times when the town was without a bridge, a ferry service or passage was maintained between both shores and this kept the military and economic ties with Waterford open.
From its foundation in the 13th Century, the layout of the streetscape has remained virtually unchanged. North, South and Priory Streets are still the main commercial streets where goods were once sold from stalls in front of the merchant’s premises. Shops began to emerge in the late 17th Century, together with the shop fronts, which are a distinctive feature of New Ross. However, a considerable part of the town was destroyed during the Rebellion of 1798 and had to be rebuilt. The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were prosperous times for New Ross with the colonisation of North America. Local merchants sailed their own ships back and forth to the colonies often carrying Irish emigrants. A replica of one of those ships, the Dunbrody, is now berthed on the quay in New Ross and offers visitors to the ship an insight into life as a passenger during the late 1800’s.