Long known simply as ‘Fethard’, the village became known as Fethard-on-Sea following events in 1914 when the lifeboat Helen Blake capsized. Nine of the lifeboat’s fourteen-man crew were drowned during a service mission to the schooner Mexico off the Keeragh Islands.

There was an outpouring of sympathy for the village and charitable donations were posted from around the world. To avoid this post from being misdirected to Fethard in County Tipperary, the name of the Fethard in County Wexford was reputedly changed to better distinguish the two