Early inhabitants led rural lives, living off the land, firstly as hunter gatherers, then farmers. Castlebridge’s location, with access to Wexford Harbour, the sea and the River Slaney, made it strategically ripe for development.
In 1742, Nicholas Dixon arrived, building a malt house, dock, canal and bridges, he was responsible for Castlebridge’s further development. The building of a toll bridge by Lemuel Cox to Wexford in 1795 brought invaluable revenue to the town. In 1810, Dixon cut a canal from the village to the Slaney to avoid toll costs. The canal was used up until 1944.
Castlebridge House was built in 1814 for Nicholas Dixon. It stood opposite the upper entrance to the mills and malthouses that he owned.
The house itself is of plain construction and was home to first the Dixons, then Breen and Nunn families before being purchased by Wexford County Council in 1974. What makes it remarkable, is the conservatory built by James Pierce around 1858.
The Breens and later Nunns of Castlebridge House & Conservatory were major suppliers of malt to the Guinness Brewery in Dublin. As such, Castlebridge House was often visited by officials from the Guinness breweries. It was during one such visit that the first twinkling of a book of records began.
After Sir Hugh Beaver, who was the managing director of the Guinness Breweries missed a shot at a golden plover during a shooting party in the North Slob on 10th November 1951, he became involved in an argument over which was the fastest game bird in Europe, the golden plover or the red grouse – it is the plover. Later that evening during dinner at Castlebridge House he realized that there were no reference books which could answer his question, and so the idea brewed…
Prior to 1782, when the penal laws existed, children were taught in gravel pits and sheltered hollows often known as hedge schools, (scoileanna scairte). These schools were illegal as it was forbidden for Catholics and other ‘non-conforming’ denominations, (such as Presbyterians) to set up schools.
Castlebridge’s first school was built in 1856 by Canon Stafford, close to where the Hall now stands. This was replaced in 1914 when Canon Quigley built a new school, where boys and girls, were separated before becoming mixed in the1950s