Rosslare Harbour, or Cuan Ros Láir in Irish, meaning ‘harbour of the middle peninsula’, sits on the south-east corner of Ireland, a suitable location for marine connections with Wales and Europe.
Rosslare Port’s history begins relatively recently with changing geographical and transport systems leading to the creation of the new harbour. Previously, the adjacent Wexford town and New Ross were the maritime centres of the region since the medieval era. Although the area has a rich maritime association with a RNLI station since 1838 and the much older Rosslare Fort, which guarded Wexford Harbour, was abandoned to the sea in 1925, although its remains have surfaced in recent years with shifting sand banks.
The advent of the railways in the mid-19th century transformed the way goods and people moved enabling new connections to be created within Ireland and across the Irish Sea. It is due to these developments at Rosslare became a port. In the 1890s, the Fishguard & Rosslare Railways & Harbours Company, a joint venture between the British Great Western Railway and the Irish Great Southern & Western Railway created the integrated rail and ferry systems generating new commercial, migration, and tourism routes. Rosslare Harbour town developed around the port supporting the new waves of traffic.
The increasing popularity of cars and trucks in the 1940s and 50s furthered Rosslare’s role as vital node in international transport to and from Ireland. In 1968, the port became Ireland’s newest gateway to Europe with the start of the Le Harve ferry route. While low-fares airlines have impacted the sector, goods transport and seasonal tourism has ensured, Rosslare Europort is now the second busiest port in the Republic of Ireland, with new prospects opening in light of Brexit.
(Image: Strand Races, Rosslare – National Library of Ireland Lawrence Collection, L_CAB_06434 – Flickr Commons – Courtesy of NLI)