River Slaney Trail – Enniscorthy
Distance 3 km out, 6km return.
Walking time 40 minutes out, 80 minutes return
Grade (National Trails Class ) Class 1
OSI Discovery Map Series number 69
Grid Reference 297,357 E, 139,265 N
Sat Nav DMS -6 34’ 2” , 52 29’ 47”
Directions The trailhead is located at the playground carpark at the end of the Promenade on the south end of Enniscorthy town. The nearest landmark, the Riverside Hotel, is adjacent the carpark.
The trail is a 3km (6km round trip) scenic walk along the western bank of the River Slaney south of Enniscorthy town. The trail starts along the promenade walk at the southern end of the town and heads past a kid’s playground, then crossing a footbridge at the River Urrin and following a gravel path through a semi-wild meadow which is part of an extensive Special Area of Conservation. The meadow plains offer views up and down the valley plus that of Brownswood House, the home of Eileen Grey, the famous furniture designer. The trail has proved to be very popular with the public and is well used by the residents of Enniscorthy Town and visitors alike. The trail is level with a number of seating benches along the route.
SAC for Habitat & Species: The river and meadow are part of the Slaney River Valley Special Area of Conservation which consists of dense scrub and grass dominated with herb layers. The meadow is flanked on the western boundary by alluvial wet woodland with strands of common alder and ash trees. The river margin next to the trail supports a variety of marsh and swamp flora such as iris and aquatic plants. There is numerous reverie fauna living and feeding within this special area, the local fauna including badgers, otters, frogs, swans, geese, goldfinch, thrush & heron and the river is stocked with Atlantic salmon, twaite shad and trout.
SPA for Birds: The river and meadow are also part of the Wexford Harbour & Slobs Special Protection Area for birds and the tranquil walk is only interrupted by the rich sound of birds and wildlife.
River History & Use – circa 1830s: The river is tidal up to the Enniscorthy town, which was accessible by large flat-bottomed barges called ‘Lighters’ which navigated upstream from Wexford port. The river Slaney had abundant stocks of excellent salmon and trout, which were caught and supplied to the town markets during the season. The local trade principally consisted of the exportation of agricultural produce, and the importation of coal, timber, slates, iron, salt, and other commodities. Large quantities of corn and butter are sent by lighters to Wexford and by land carriage via New Ross to Waterford. Two spacious quays were constructed, at an expense of £9000, defrayed partly by the trustees of the Earl of Portsmouth’s estate, and partly by subscription: the Templeshannon quay is 450 feet, and the Abbey quay is 500 feet in length. The River Urrin joins the River Slaney just south of Enniscorthy at St. John’s, where there was a mineral spring at the bridge and which later became the location for a flour mill run by S&AG Davis Ltd.The river Boro joins the River Slaney 3km further south at Kilcarbery. The fast flowing river was harnessed originally by a woollen mill factory and then converted into a set of flour-mills, called the Kilcarbery Mills. The mills produced about 200 barrels of flour per week which were sent to Wexford for exportation. The Boro was also navigable by flat-bottomed barges up to the mills.
During your walk you will always see swans and geese on the River Slaney, so bring some bread scraps. The children’s playground is at the start of the walk.