Date: 9th September 2017
Organiser: Jim Kenny
Yola: the forgotten language of Co Wexford
Yola is most strongly associated with the baronies of Forth and Bargy in Wexford. It is thought that its origins lie with the Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland in the 12th century. As the newcomers established a foothold in Wexford and the south-east they brought their medieval Middle English language with them.
The passage of centuries had little effect on the dialect; although it subsumed some Irish and French words it retained its distinctive character, and remained markedly different from the more modern English that developed elsewhere.
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The Yola is a relatively flat 200 around much of the scenic Wexford coastline where the language was commonly spoken less than a century ago. Starting in Kilmuckridge, which appears as Ford on some maps, there’s a rolling section down to Wexford town with glimpses of the sea beyond the beaches featured in Saving Private Ryan.
From there it’s on to Kilmore Quay, with it thatched houses and vistas of the Saltee Islands, home to its own Royal family. Southwest by coast guard cottages and the small seaside village of Cullenstown the route then clings to Bannow Bay, where the Normans first came ashore, before reaching your first control in Wellingtonbridge.
Next you’ll travel close to Tintern Abbey, past an old shipwreck and through Fethard on Sea before shadowing the long tapered finger of the Hook Peninsula by the haunted Loftus Hall ending at the famously picturesque lighthouse. Back again through the charming shoreline towns of Duncannon and Arthurstown and up the hill in Ballyhack, after its car ferry to Waterford, before turning to Campile, bombed in WWII. The control here has you well over half way.
You’ll head inland for a while through the 1798 battleground of Foulksmills and Taghmon leading back towards Wexford town and a penultimate control just off the main Wexford to New Ross road. Leaving this brief interlude with major roads behind, turning past the National Heritage Park the route offers panoramas of the Slaney which you’ll cross using a small reed abounded bridge after Killurin. Then by Artramon House back into Castlebridge and the final leg to home.
At just short of 1600m of climbing and about 202km it’s not the most demanding, but hopefully it’s a rewarding day in beautiful places.