The county takes its name from the principal town, which was founded by the Norsemen in the tenth century as "Waesfjord". A similar reference to Wexford Harbour, the large sheltered lagoon which is the reason for the town's existence, is found in the Irish name.
Co. Wexford was the landing place of the Norman invasion in 1169 and the region was settled extensively by the newcomers. This Norman influence, the warmth of its climate, the relative prosperity of its farms, and the fact that most of the county is situated between mountains and sea, have all combined to make Wexford a unique place. It was the scene of the most intense and widespread fighting in the rebellion of 1798, and for a time a citizens' republic was established on the French model in Wexford town.
Perhaps because of its comparative prosperity, emigration from Wexford was not extensive until the latter half of the nineteenth century, and then took place mainly from the relatively poorer northern part of the county.
John F. Kennedy was descended from Wexford stock.
Some of the surnames commonly found in the county include Bolger, Dempsey, Roche, Rossiter, Fanning, Walsh, Myers, Sinnott, and Keogh.