As Wexford’s only maritime museum, the Rosslare Harbour Maritime Heritage Centre is ideally located for a stop when passing through the village. Whether you’re heading towards or leaving the port, or if you’re spending time in Rosslare Harbour, the museum is conveniently situated on the main road between the village of Kilrane and Rosslare Harbour, with ample parking for ease of access. The museum is housed in the former Tourist Information Office, and the warmth of welcome and knowledge from the volunteers reflects the building’s former function.
Established in this location in October 2012, the Rosslare Harbour Maritime Heritage Centre was set up by a group of four local maritime enthusiasts with a wealth of knowledge, experience and artefacts relating to the maritime heritage of Rosslare Harbour and its surrounds. The cohort now numbers ten volunteers, with writers, artists, historians, and craftspeople amongst their crew. The group have authored numerous books, including Images of Ireland-Rosslare Harbour, The Ships of Rosslare Harbour-A Photographic History, Irish Shipping Ltd–A Fleet History and most recently Sailing Ships of Wexford 1840s-1940s-A Century of Sail in Co Wexford, most of which are available to purchase in the Heritage Centre. There is also an extensive range of maritime related secondhand books available to purchase, together with a comprehensive selection of Lloyd’s Registers and other books in their reference library for research purposes.
The walls are packed with fascinating material – maps, photographs, historical articles and even a full oilskins belonging to the former Rosslare Harbour Lifeboat Coxswain, Dickie Walsh, that he wore on the famous rescue by the Rosslare Harbour Lifeboat Douglas Hyde of the tanker World Concord in November 1954. Vivid paintings by group member and maritime artist Brian Cleare are not to be missed either! In carefully curated display cases, there are models of all kinds of ships, donated by the ferry companies and local people, which showcase, in intricate detail, the sophistication of the vessels over the years.
Other fascinating artefacts include an original Diving Suit, which was worn by a local diver working off Rosslare Pier, and a set of original lightbulbs used on Tuskar Rock Lighthouse. The collection also includes compasses, ships wheels, as well as many nautical artefacts that were recovered from local shipwrecks. The Heritage Centre regularly curates new exhibitions highlighting the diversity of material held at the museum. A popular recent exhibition covered ‘Irish Ferries – The French Connection’, offering a display of ephemera relating to the ferry crossing from Rosslare to the French ports over the years. Other exhibitions include: 'Wexford Lifeboats', 'Irish Shipping Ltd', 'Kilrane School Centenary', 'Fishing Boats', 'Arklow Shipping', and 'Wexford Shipwrecks' to name but a few.
With an active Facebook, (Rosslare Harbour Maritime Heritage Centre) page of over 1.5k followers, the Rosslare Harbour Maritime Heritage Centre is connected to the local community and to maritime enthusiasts all over the world. A quirky little building located en route to and from the port, a visit here will illuminate the history of Rosslare Harbour and its relationship to the sea in new ways for visitors and locals alike.
Opening hours are Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9.30 – 4pm, Saturday 2-5pm. Admission is free.
Please contact the museum via their Facebook page for further details. They will be delighted to extend a warm Wexford welcome!