The Church of the Assumption, Bree was built in 1839 by the then parish priest, Very Rev Philip Devereaux. It is of the Gothic pointed style of architecture and was designed by Pugin. An acre of ground was given rent free forever for the building of the church by Harry Alcock of Wilton Castle in 1837.
Bree Church is just inside the boundry of Clonmore, the old parish. The church was dedicated to the Blessed Virgin under the title of the Assumption. The first baptismal registration was in 1839 and the first mission was held in Bree in 1856. The earliest known pastor to labour at Bree was Fr George Wotton, a Franciscan, between 1688 and 1714.
The church at Galbally was built in 1829 for the Vicar of Ballyhogue. It cost 2000 pounds which was provided by J H Talbot of Talbot Hall. It was erected, complete with a tower that was made of wood covered with zinc. The zinc was replaced by copper in the late 1940s. The first Curate in Galbally in 1829 was Rev Martin Moran.
Bellevue is a beautiful domestic chapel, designed by Pugin. Anthony John Cliffe had this private chapel built in 1859 adjoining his mansion. In 1923, during the Civil War troubles, the mansion was destroyed by fire. Before setting fire to the house, the armed men detached the chapel from the main building and in this way it was saved from the blaze. The chapel still serves the parishioners of Ballyhogue today.
Clonmore Church was erected in 1827 in the late English style of architecture, with an embatled tower, and was erected on a site given by Harry Alcock at Ballybuckley on part of the Wilton Castle estate. The first Vicar of Clonmore was Rev Charles Douglas Ogle. When it was decided to build a church there was contention between local Protestant magnates as to the site of the new church. A Mr Shepard of Clonmore wanted it on the old site near his residence and Mr Alcock wished to have it near his castle. The compromise was to build halfway between both places. It is built an English mile from the old site at Clonmore in the townland of Ballybuckley but was given the old parish name of Clonmore. It is the final resting place of well-known historical parish names such as Beatty, Alcock and Lett.
Wilton Castle was the Alcock family home since 1695. Colonel Harry Alcock inherited the castle in 1840 and restored it adding a square tower built of Mount Leinster granite and laying out fine lawns. In 1893 the property went to his nephew Philip Clayton Alcock the last of the family to live in the parish.
Wilton Castle was destroyed by fire in 1923 during Civil War times. A group of men using tins of petrol reduced the castle to ashes on the night of March 5th 1923. Wilton was unoccupied at the time but was in the hands of a caretaker. He and the steward (Mr George Windsor) tried to dissuade the men to no avail, but managed to save some of the furniture.
It is now almost 80 years since the destruction of the castle and the ruins still hang there, the once beautiful gardens are no more. Wilton is now a townland holding the memories of many historic years. The vast estate once covered much of the parish of Bree and for centuries the majority of the Bree population were tenants of the Alcock family. Generations of people have been deprived of knowing the beauty and gracefulness of Wilton Castle in its true splendour.
The Normans built Macmine Castle. The Fitzhenry family held the castle and land until the Cromwellian period. One of the family, John Fitzhenry died in 1420. Records of Macmine Castle in the early years are scattered, but it appears that the Fitzhenry property was confiscated in 1654. A historical map of 1798 shows Macmine Castle in the possession of Pierce Newton King but exact dates of acquisition are not known. Kings Island perpetuates this mans name. For financial reasons, descendants of P N King were forced to sell the castle and land in 1860. John Richards, born 2.11.1808 purchased Macmine from the King family. He completed a full restoration of the castle. The property was later leased to the Benedictine Nuns of Ypres.
The Flood family of Castleboro bought Macmine Castle and 120 acres of land, including Kings Island in 1944.The Floods never lived there but farmed the lands. The castle was later stripped of its lead roof and anything of value was taken out. It became a ruin. In 1965 Mahor T F Dunne acquired the castle and land. Macmine remains in the Dunne family today.
Ballybrittas Dolmen dates from 1800 B.C. and is therefore easily the oldest man-made building in Co. Wexford. It belongs to a group of megalithic tombs called Portal Dolmens of which there were 2 in Co Wexford. The second one, which is a ruin, is sited at Barmoney, near Galbally in the parish of Bree. Ballybrittas is the classic siting for portal domens on the side of a hill in a townland close to a river (the Boro). They are called Portal Dolmens because the massive stones holding up the capstone (they weigh from 20 tons to 100 tons) are sometimes arranged to a port or porch.
The grotto was designed by Gerard Flood, Castleboro, and built by voluntary labour consisting most of people in the immediate locality. The grotto was erected on the site of St Cuans Well, which was originally part of Ballybrennan graveyard. The grotto was dedicated to Our Lady of Lourdes and blessed by V Rev Richard Canon Gaul, P P Bree who also imparted Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. For many years afterwards an annual procession took place, but this practice was discontinued in the late sixties.
Items for the local history section have
been extracted from
THE STORY OF A COUNTY WEXFORD PARISH by Dan Walsh.