The town was founded by the Vikings in about 800 AD. They named it Veisafjǫrðr, meaning “inlet of the mud flats”, and the name has changed only slightly into its present form. “Veisa” in modern Norwegian means “Way”. So ‘Veisafjǫrðr’ could have meant “inlet of the way” or “Way Fjord”. According to a local legend, the town got its Irish name, Loch Garman, from a young man named Garman Garbh who was drowned on the mudflats at the mouth of the River Slaney by flood waters released by an enchantress. The resulting loch was thus named Loch Garman.
For about three hundred years it was a Viking town, a city state, largely independent and owing only token dues to the Irish kings of Leinster. However, in May 1169 Wexford was besieged by Dermot MacMurrough, King of Leinster and his Norman ally, Robert Fitz-Stephen. The Norse inhabitants resisted fiercely, until the Bishop of Ferns persuaded them to accept a settlement with Dermot.
Wexford was an Old English settlement in the Middle Ages. An old dialect of English, known as Yola, was spoken uniquely in Wexford up until the 19th century. The Yola name for Wexford was Weiseforthe.