Carlow a jewel of a county with a wealth of scenery and history – from rich
pastureland and colourful mountains to the deep and historical
Barrow River Valley. The River Barrow flows right
through Carlow all the way down to County Wexford. Everywhere in the landscape is the resonance of
her ancient pre-Celtic past. A county of green, vibrant colours,
whose welcoming people are much given to outdoor and sporting
activities, such as gentle river cruising on the
Barrow, golf or even hand gliding
on Mount Leinster or touring the many gardens on
the Carlow Garden Trail. Carlow county offers some great
walks such as 'The Barrow Way', the longer 'South Leinster Way' or a
great forest walks at Oak Park, Kilbrannish or Clogrennane Wood.
Carlows famous people include the
scientist John Tyndall, born in the 1800's in Carlow, and
who discovered the effects of global warming and light pipe prior to the
Carlow Town marks the meeting of the Barrow and Burrin rivers, a
point which was believed to be once made up of four lakes, hence the
Gaelic name, Ceathar Loch, or Four Lakes. The main towns in the
county are Bagenalstown, Sir Walter Bagenal's 18th century attempt
at replicating Versailles, Borris, a handsome estate town, full of
charm and heritage and home to the MacMurrough Kavanagh family,
ancestors of the Celtic Kings of Leinsterliving in Borris House Carlow,
Leighlinbridge, gold medal winner
in Europe's Entente Florale in 2001, an attractive town with a
beautiful arch bridge, said to be one of the oldest functioning
bridges in Europe, Tullow, ancestral home of the famous Wolseley
family - of motor car fame -and the picturesque and historic village
of St. Mullins, where St. Moling founded a
monastery there in the 7th century and where you can see the ruins
of this monastic site including a round tower, small granite High
Cross and several old churches, old graveyard, moate and St Mullins
Holy Well (St Moling's Holly Well). St.
Mullins is home to a varied range of wild life ranging from
mallard's, heron, kingfisher and more.Brownshill Dolmen near Carlow
town has the largest of capstones on top in Ireland of 100 ton
weight, which attracts a lot of attention.
Carlow Town, Carlow - Ceatharlach, Ceatharlach
Carlow stands at the confluence of the Barrow and Burrin rivers.
Tradition has it that the junction of the two rivers once formed
four lakes. The name ' Carlow ' means Four Lakes.
The ancient town of Carlow is a bustling centre with great shopping,
fine restaurants and first-class accommodation. Carlow has a
well-earned reputation for lively festivals throughout the year,
including the internationally renowned Eigse Arts Festival, 10-day
extravaganza featuring visual arts, theatre, performance, comedy,
dance, literary events and more.
While the river remains an important focus for the town, with a long
established Rowing Club and annual regatta, other influences include
an international student population, a thriving arts and craft
community, a long and lively tradition of Irish language use and
culture. Carlow's waterways were used in olden
times for transport of goods, including beet, goods to and from the
Guinness stout house and other heavy goods.
Carlow is home for the
Carlow Floral Festival Trail held at the
end of July each year. Also in Carlow in August is the Tullow
Agricultural Show, Co Carlow a family days entertainment which
features food and craft halls, trade stands, with displays and
competitions in horses, ponies, cattle, sheep, art and much more.
County Carlow Military Museum has a growing collection of over 5,000
artefacts. The Museum works closely with the National Museum of Ireland,
particularly in the area of Archaeological Finds and is designated to
collect such finds on its behalf for County Carlow. The visitor to
Carlow should take a visit to
Altamont Gardens, Tullow as well as to
Ballon Garden And Craft Centre
Carlow has a number of fine Golf Courses such as
Borris Golf Club, Carlow Golf Club,
Carrigleade Golf Course,
Killerig Castle Golf & Country Club,Leinster Hills Golf Club
Mount Wolseley Golf And Country Club.
Experience a night out in Carlow at the
George Bernard Shaw
Theatre. Take in some on Carlows wonderful gardens on the Carlow Garden
Walking and cycling are fun ways to enjoy the great outdoors and take in
the beautiful scenery of the surrounding countryside. And the good news for
those who like to travel this way, is that Carlow has a wonderful variety of
facilities, all located in a relatively compact area.
If you’re a serious rambler or just like to stretch your legs
and enjoy the view, Carlow is a brilliant destination to explore on foot. Some
of Ireland’s most satisfying walks are to be found in Co. Carlow. Home to three
of Ireland’s long distance walking routes – The Leinster Way, The
Wicklow Way and
The Barrow Way - the
county is blessed with hundreds of kilometres of excellent and varied walking.
Experienced walkers will enjoy the invigorating challenge of Carlow’s way-marked
mountain treks, whilst novices will find peace and tranquillity on peaceful
riverside, park and country walks. With the
Blackstairs Mountains and Mount Leinster just some
of the areas for walking in Carlow. The walks featured here are just a
sample of the many available to the visitor to Co. Carlow so feel free to wander
at will …..
Cyclists are well catered for with Celtic Cycling, based in
Bagenalstown who organise leisurely “go-as-you-please”
self guided cycling tours through the by-roads and country lanes of counties
Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford and Wexford in South-East Ireland.
The Barrow Way
The Barrow Way follows the towpath, originally a path alongside
the River Barrow to allow the pulling of barges or boats for transport. The
ground is level throughout passing good farmland where tillage and cattle
farming is predominant. The path offers much of architectural interest to the
visitor – bridges, many arched, and pretty lock houses, some still in use. Many
interesting historical features are located in close proximity to the river
including castles, abbeys, old bridges and derelict mills.
The full length of the Barrow Way from Lowtown to St. Mullins is
113 kilometres (70 miles). Alternatively, the route can be easily explored by
taking short sections of the walk in a series of daily trips. Accommodation is
available from 3 to 19 kilometres and varies from hotels to self-catering and
bed & breakfasts. Most accommodation providers are delighted to transport you to
and from your starting and finishing points. Towns offer a full range of
services while villages have good facilities that are designed to meet the needs
of the walker.
STAGE 1 of the Barrow Way starts in Lowtown and a distance of 23
km (14 miles) takes you to the town of Monasterevin. The raised banks of the
canal offer beautiful vistas of the surrounding countryside with views of the
Hill of Allen and the Wicklow Mountains.
STAGE 2 covers the stretch from Monasterevin to Athy – 23km (14
miles). This stretch offers the visitor much of architectural interest with many
old bridges and houses.
STAGE 3 runs from Athy to Carlow – 19km (12 miles). This is the
first of four stretches which pass through the county of Carlow. Starting from
the heritage town of Athy, the route passes many interesting lifting bridges and
old mills before reaching Carlow town.
STAGE 4 Carlow to Bagenalstown - 16km (10 miles). Milford,
approximately 7 km south of Carlow is one of the most attractive stretches along
the River Barrow. Set in an idyllic location with three bridges, mill buildings
and a large wooded area it is famous as an aquatic triangle with regular
spottings of herons and kingfishers. This stretch of walk is rich with
historical buildings and castles including the Black Castle at Leighlinbridge
and the many architectural gems in the town of Bagenalstown, where thiswalk
STAGE 5 takes the walker from Bagenalstown to Graiguenamanagh –
26km (16 miles). This route passes the small villages of Goresbridge and Borris
before ending in Graiguenamanagh, a picturesque abbey town and a popular boating
and craft centre. Overlooking the River Barrow is Duiske Abbey founded by Norman
monks from Stanley Abbey, Wiltshire in 1204. The “Early English” design boasts a
lofty nave and it is the largest of Irish Cistercian monastery churches.
STAGE 6 Graiguenamanagh to St. Mullins – 6km (4 miles). This
stretch has beautiful woodland surroundings with a strong ecclesiastical theme
in the religious settlement at St. Mullins. The complex includes a medieval
church ruin, the base of a round tower and the former Church of Ireland church,
built in 1811, which now hosts a heritage centre. The lower settlement is set on
a glorious stretch of the Barrow Valley and includes a picnic area.
The South Leinster Way
The South Leinster Way is a long distance walking route which
runs from Kildavin, Co. Carlow to Carrick-on-Suir in Co. Tipperary covering 102
kilometres (64 miles) in length and ascending 1600 metres.
The predominant features in the landscape are Mount Leinster,
Brandon Hill and the river valleys of the Barrow, Nore and Suir. This stretch
can be comfortably walked in five days but strong walkers can finish it in three
STAGE 1: Kildavin – Borris 22km (14 miles). From Kildavin the
route passes along forest tracks over the northern slopes of Mount Leinster to
reach the town of Borris. The “Nine Stones” vantage point at Mount Leinster
offers amazing views of the Barrow Valley and Brandon Hill.
STAGE 2: Borris – Graiguenamanagh 12km (7 ½ miles). This stretch
follows the towpath along the River Barrow and is particularly attractive as it
passes through rich deciduous woodland and old mills. Graiguenamanagh marks the
end of this stage – a quayside, boating town lying in the county of Kilkenny but
connected via a bridge over the River Barrow to its twin village of Tinnahinch
in Co. Carlow.
STAGE 3: Graiguenamanagh – Inistioge 16km (10 miles). This walk
crosses the slopes of Mount Brandon by a series of forest walks before reaching
the pretty village of Inistioge. In recent years, Inistioge has also witnessed
the development of the film making industry in Ireland. Famous films shot here
include Widow’s Peak and Circle of Friends.
STAGE 4: Inistioge – Mullinavat 30km (19 miles). Suitable for
the seasoned walker. This section of the way starts along the banks of the River
Nore and continues via forest roads over several hills to reach Mullinavat.
STAGE 5: Mullinavat – Carrick-on-Suir 22km (14 miles). This
stretch crosses the River Blackwater and passes the village of Piltown en route
to the end of the walk in Carrick-on-Suir.
The Wicklow Way
This route covers a distance of 132km (81 miles) in length
commencing in Marley Park, Dublin and finishing in the beautiful village of
Clonegal located in the River Slaney valley in the east of the county. A
combination of suburban parkland, forest trails, wild and scenic mountain
landscape and finally rolling countryside offers a wonderfully varied, 8 to 10
day experience for a hill-walker of average fitness. Variety in buildings and
wildlife is a great characteristic of this route with regular sightings of red
deer, silka deer, hares, foxes, squirrels and badgers.
The Slieve Margy Way is located in the north western corner of
Co. Carlow and south-eastern corner of Co. Laois and allows the visitor explore
some of the most spectacular scenery in Ireland. The route is a circular network
of walking tracks through a number of villages, many in close proximity to Co.
Carlow including Graiguecullen, Maganey, Arles, Wolfhill and The Swan. Passing
along the banks of the Barrow river, the Slieve Margy Way then takes to the
hills rising over 1,000 feet to the top of the Castlecomer Plateau to join the
Swan Loop. The Way has been designed to allow walkers join it at any point and
walk in either direction. Full map available from Carlow Tourist Office on
Sli na Sláinte
A range of shorter walks combining the best of variety and
enjoyment has been established by the Irish Heart Foundation in co-operation
with community groups and the local authorities in Co. Carlow. Known as Sli na
Sláinte routes, the signs are easily identifiable, at 1km intervals, by the
warm, radiant sun and cheerful human figure in yellow, blue and red symbolising
the vitality and energy of life. A series of brochures covering each route can
be obtained from Carlow Tourist Office, College Street, Carlow.
Routes can be found in Carlow Town, Ballymurphy, Clonegal,
Hacketstown, Leighlinbridge, Rathanna and St. Mullins.