Sunday 20 October 2019

Wexford is a cultural jewel says Wall Street Journal

Wexford Quays on a beautiful morning.
Wexford Quays on a beautiful morning.

By David Tucker

WEXFORD has been described as a cultural jewel in an effusive and very positive article about the town in the influential Wall Street Journal.

Written by Brian Kellow, the author says most travellers to Ireland are drawn to the more dramatic landscapes of the West, or to Dublin or maybe the crystal factories of County Waterford.

By skipping Wexford, they're not only missing quintessential Ireland, but one of the country's greatest cultural destinations and the Wexford Festival Opera is one of Europe's key international music events.

'Wexford's spirit is a kind of comforting solitude, removed from it all yet not isolated. In autumn, the weather is still mild; rain comes and goes gently and usually doesn't last long. Along the quay, you can smell the tang of the sea and the sweet scent of the mussels that cling to the rocks.

The Talbot Hotel is one of a number of local establishments which get glowing mention. The Thomas Moore Tavern in another.

'It is always a comfort to see the statue of John Barry, the naval hero born in Wexford in 1745, which has become a kind of welcome-home symbol for me. Farther along the quay, when I come around a turn and glimpse the yellow-and-gray marble-and-stucco exterior of the Talbot Hotel, I feel I really am home. The Talbot is a lively gathering place for both visitors and locals, where the staff always remembers me from year to year.

'Concerts, poetry readings and art exhibits are never hard to find in Wexford. The Irish National Opera House presents musical and theatrical productions year-round by companies including Ballet Ireland, Opera Theatre Company and the Abbey Theatre. But even if the town had none of these, I would return simply to be reassured that, in these smartphone-driven times, the art of face-to-face conversation is alive and well.

'The Wexford residents I've met seem to love to talk-about pretty much anything-though I've found they have a sly and sometimes disconcerting way of drawing far more out of you than they reveal about themselves.'

Talking about the annual Singing Pubs competition, Mr Kellow says there 'is nothing quite like the raw beauty and natural communicative power of a good untrained voice, and I find it mysterious that so few of the festival's operagoers take advantage of the pub competition.

'They miss some indelible performances by non professionals. But I'm never sad to leave Wexford, though. People joke about the "Irish goodbye"-leaving a social gathering without saying farewell to avoid the flow of conversation that renders it impossible to make it to the door. For me, the real beauty of a Wexford goodbye is that it's never final.'

Wexford People

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