To the Irish people, White’s Hotel is a legend inextricably woven into the social, cultural and artistic history of Wexford. From as early as 1715, local historians believe that a lodging house called The King’s Arms, existed close to the hotel’s present site. It is well recorded that White’s was a militiamen’s lodging house in 1779, surviving the bloody insurrection against the English in 1798 when the hotel’s Coffee House was mentioned in the diary of a survivor.
In the early 1800’s it become a Coaching Inn when Charles Bianconi, based in Clonmel, set up his stage-coach network. The hotel was originally opened by John White and has adapted and expanded with time-being first called “the New Hotel” the “Mr. White’s Hotel,” and later on simply “White’s Hotel.”
Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries Wexford town prospered as a port and as the country’s strong agricultural centre and market. During this period the hotel was managed by succeeding generations of White’s and became one of the main commercial centres of the town. As trade flourished, White’s became one of the best known hotels of high reputation in Leinster.
It was frequented by commercial gentlemen conducting business in the Wexford region who arrived first by coach and later by the new railway which linked Rosslare to Dublin. These gentlemen ate supper in the Captain White’s Restaurant (with the senior man at the head of the table carving and serving the plates to his colleagues) before they retired upstairs to the commercial room to write their reports. As the leading hotel, White’s had its own strong following in Wexford and became the meeting place for many clubs and societies that flourished in the later part of the 19th century.
A young man, Hugh McCarthy joined the hotel as a trainee. Over the years he was promoted and became a partner and finally in 1907 he was the sole proprietor. He started the second family that was to own and manage White’s for a long period-in fact right up to 1997. Hugh McCarthy lived through the Great War after which tourism was introduced to Ireland. He died in 1928 and his Son Eugene developed the hotel into a combined local, tourist and commercial hotel, experiencing the difficulties of World War II and adapting to meet the modern needs of foreign visitors. In 1963, his daughter Ann and her husband John Small took over the management of White’s and expanded the range of services offered.
In 1997 Michael Burke purchased Whites Hotel and in January 2004 closed the hotel to embark on a full redevelopment. The doors reopened on 6th June 2006 unveiling the all new Whites of Wexford.