Carlow Tourist Attractions
Carlow (Ceatharlach, "Fourfold Lake"), county town of Carlow county, lies southwest of Dublin on the River Barrow, at the intersection of the N9 and N80. It has a variety of industry, including a beet-sugar factory, flour mills and maltings.Strategically situated on the border of the English Pale, Carlow was a stronghold of the Anglo-Normans. In 1361 it was surrounded by a wall, and thereafter was frequently besieged, captured and burned down. The last time it was a scene of battle was in 1798, when 640 Irish rebels were killed. The battle and those who lost their lives are commemorated by a modern high cross in Celtic style which stands in Church Street, where the dead were buried.2mi/3km northeast of Carlow on the Dublin road (N9) is the beautifully wooded Oak Park, with a golf course (18 holes).
Carlow Castle (National Monument) is reached from Castle Hill Street through the premises of Corcoran's Mineral Water factory. Of the main structure of the castle, which was originally square, there remains only the east side with two massive round towers at the corners (13th C).
Carlow Court House
At the junction of Athy Road and Dublin Road is the handsome neo-classical Court House (1830).
St Patrick's College
The formal garden, adjacent to Altamont House, was first laid out over 200 years ago. Lawns and clipped yews slope down to a lake surrounded by rare trees and shrubs as well as an abundance of roses, old and modern, and herbaceous plants.
Eigse-Carlow Arts Festival
Browne's Hill Dolmen
2mi/3km east of the town of Carlow, in the Browne's Hill demesne, is a huge dolmen (National Monument), 4,000 years old, the largest in Ireland. The front end of the capstone, weighing 102 tons, is borne on three uprights; the rear end has collapsed and rests on the ground.
From Carlow, continuing east from Browne's Hill Dolmen, the R725 comes in 7.5mi/12km to the little town of Tullow, a center for fishing the River Slaney and its tributaries.
Rathgall Stone Fort
3mi/5km east of Tullow, in Wicklow county, is the ring-fort of Rathgall (National Monument), a hilltop stronghold with three concentric ramparts and ditches, probably built in the early centuries A.D. as the seat of the kings of South Leinster. North of the fort can be seen the well-preserved Haroldstown Dolmen (National Monument), with a double capstone borne on 10 uprights.
Rathgall - Aghowie Church
From the R725 east of Rathgall a signed road leads to the ruins of Aghowie Church (12th C.). Noteworthy are the doorway, a slender granite cross and various old tombs.
South of Carlow the N9 comes to Leighlinbridge with the ruins of the 16th C. Black Castle (National Monument). An earlier castle was built on the site in 1180 to protect the crossing of the River Barrow.
2mi/3km west of Leighlinbridge is the older settlement of Old Leighlin, where there was already a monastic establishment in the seventh century. The ruins of a church built in the 13th C. and much altered in the 16th C. still exist. Notable features are the Gothic doorway into the choir, the font, stalls and tombs (16th C.).
From Leighlinbridge the R705 runs southeast to Muine Bheag or Bagenalstown, an attractive little town which is a good center for fishermen. In the vicinity are two 13th C. castles, both National Monuments - Ballymoon Castle, an empty shell with walls 8ft/2.5m thick and 20ft/6m high and rectangular towers, and Ballyloughan Castle, the remains of which are notable for the number of fireplaces.
Borris is the best starting point for a visit to the Blackstairs Mountains, to the east of the town. On the highest peak, Mount Leinster (2,576ft/785m), stands a television tower.
At the southern tip of county Carlow, 9mi/15km south of Borris, is St Mullin's, which has both Early Christian and medieval remains (National Monuments) in the churchyard. They include a church with a spiral staircase, an oratory (St James's Chapel), various other buildings, the stump of a round tower and a granite high cross.Outside the monastic precincts can be seen a Norman fortress.
A little way to the west of Carlow is the village of Clonmore, with the early 13th C. Clonmore Castle, a building with corner towers typical of its period.The churchyard, which is cut in two by the road, also contains interesting remains. On the north side of the road is a beautiful and excellently preserved high cross, on the south side a fine cross fragment; both are designated National Monuments.
Just over 1mi/ 2km farther west, in the churchyard of Killeshin village ( Laois county), is a 12th C. Romanesque church, with a doorway which is notable for its carving and its high-pitched pediment.From the churchyard there is a lovely view over the plain, with the Wicklow Mountains in the distance.