Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

The Towns and Villages
County Carlow.

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AGHADE: a beautiful viewing spot over the River Slaney, close to the village of Ardattin and an ideal location for sightseeing and swimming.

Aghade lodge
All Saints Churc of Ireland, Aghade, Co CARLOW.
All Saints Church of Ireland, Aghade
Aghade Holed Stone ('Clochaphoill')
A large flat stone, now leaning though originally upright, with a hole 6 inches wide at one end. It may have been a so-called 'port-hole' stone which closed the chamber of a megalithic tomb. However, the traditional explanation - as usual, much more romantic and appealing - is that it was a stone used at the dawn of history by Niall of the Nine Hostages to tie up Eochaidh, son of Enna Eochaidh broke the chain and took his revenge by killing the nine men whom Niall had sent to kill him. Up till the 18th century, sick infants were passed through the hole to restore them to health!.

Aghanure is in the Electoral Division of Carlow Rural, in Civil Parish of Painestown, in the Barony of Carlow, in the County of Carlow The Irish name for Aghanure is Áth an Iúir

Ardattin - A picturesque country village south of Tullow, near the River Slaney. Located close by is Ballintemple House, former seat of the Butlers, a junior branch of the House of Ormonde and birthplace of Pierce Butler, signatory of the American Constitution. Although the house was sadly destroyed by fire in 1913, an extensive tree nursery tended by the State forestry service, Coillte, now occupies the Ballintemple Estate. A circuit walk offering fine views of the surrounding countryside may be enjoyed through the Coillte site. A local beauty spot is the Aghade Bridge. There is a local Museum, which houses The Cottage Collection - Antiques and Domestic Objects of times past. There is also a local Ardattin Craft Shop. Ballintemple Nursery & Forest and Ballintemple House.

Bagenalstown / Muine Bheag - This is a medium sized important and picturesque town on the River Barrow. Its founder William Bagenal, attempted to build a town of great architectural importance. His task was never completed, although the many fine streetscapes of his original plan delight the visitor. Other places of interest are Dunleckney Manor, which is one of Carlow's most magnificent country houses located 2km north east of Bagenalstown. Incorporating the original manor dating to 1612. The present manor was erected in 1845 in Tudor Gothic style by Daniel Robertson. The manor was home to the Bagenal family for almost three centuries from 1585 onwards. Hillview Museum, Corries - Household artefacts and vintage farm machinery. Carrigbeg Equestrian Centre, Fennagh. The ruins of the early 14th century Ballymoon Castle, near Bagenalstown enjoys public access from the road. Wells Church, Bagenalstown. Preserved ruin of a church dating back to 1262. The present remains consist of the east and most of the south wall, and the reconstructed north wall of the nave

BALLINKILLEN: South of Bagenalstown off the Bagenalstown - Borris road is the village of Ballinkillen, nestling under the shadow of Mount Leinster. In the village churchyard are the gravestones of the parents of the late Cardinal Moran & Theresa Malone - the 1798 heroine of the "Battle of Kilcumney". The village has a very fine Community Centre, with all the various indoor sports activities and a splendid G.A.A. sports field.  Teresa Malone is buried at Ballinkillen Chapel yard. She features in the Ballad of Kilcumney and is a heroine of 1798 because she distracted the crown army as they chased after rebels of 1798. She shot a soldier and rode off to the rebels. It is said that Teresa Malone lived until she was 90 and died around the time of the Fenian rising of  March 5, 1867 and because of this there was a big media presence at her funeral as they feared there would be trouble.


This picture of Ballon appeared in the Carloviana 1995

A charming rural village situated on the main Carlow/Wexford Road, with excellent views of the Blackstairs and Wicklow Mountains. Evidence of human habitation in the village can be dated back to the Bronze Age and a settlement has been found on Ballon Hill. The visitor can enjoy a walk of approx 3 km the settlement on Ballon Hill. The Church of St. Peter & Paul is also well worth a visit. Altamont Gardens, the most Romantic Gardens in Ireland. Ballon is a charming rural village with excellent views of the Blackstairs and Wicklow Mountains. The village is lively and atmospheric, offering the visitor a range of entertainment's and social events. Do you have a poem in you?

Rathoe is situated between Tullow and Ballon, a small friendly village made famous by Bard van Vousden who wrote the song “The Roads Around Rathoe”. St. Patrick's Church is an excellent example of 19th century craftsmanship with beautiful stained glass windows.

Ballymoon Castle - near Bagenalstown. It was occupied in late medieval times by the Kavanagh's, who controlled all but two of Co Carlow’s 150 castles during the early decades of the 15th century. Like so many Irish castles, Ballymoon has no recorded history, but on architectural grounds it must have been built c.1290-1310. The most likely builders were the Carew family, who evidently by this time had acquired the district (Idrone), from the Bigods, Earls of Norfolk. The castle - as striking as it is unusual - comprises a courtyard about 80 feet square, delimited by granite walls, 8 feet thick and 20 feet high. No doubt these walls had allures or wall-walks with crenellations, but these do not survive. Some flanking protection was provided by oblong latrine turrets projecting from three of its faces; the fourth curtain on the west has no such defence, though the gateway on this side, a plain arch with portcullis grooves, may origin ally have had a barbican in front. The interior is now bare, but the walls, many embrasures, loops, fireplaces and doors bear witness to the former presence of two-storey ranges, some with cellars, that delimited the enclosure. The fine double-fireplace on the north belonged to the Great Hall, while such features as the cross loops with expanded terminals and "Caernarvon arches" allow us to date the castle to the turn of the thirteenth century. The castle may not have been in use for very long; indeed, some argue it was never finished. Located 2 miles E of Bagenalstown in a field adjacent to the Fennagh road (L33). A small bridge gives access across a deep field ditch.

Upon Ducanstown (Dunganstown) stands a castle. This castle was probably standing on an island in the River Barrow as indicated on the Down Survey of 1650. Built by the St. Leger family. Subsequently passed to the Butler family before passing on to Bests. It probably stood close to or on farm buildings. Over the years stones from the ruins have been carted away for building purposes to the Larchfield estate, but some traces of the walls are still clearly discernible on the east bank of the Barrow.

Bestfield LockBestfield Lock


Ballymurphy and Tinnacarrig - Ballymurphy is obviously ‘the townland of Murphy’, Tannacarrig was ‘the house of the rock’. Within a half mile of Ballymurphy Chapel was the remains of an old church and graveyard called Kilcullen (Cullen’s church). A large number of chiselled stones, probably from the church lay scattered around. A holy well called Kilcullen Well was close by, in the 1860’s this was still visited by pilgrims.  Patrick Breen was from near Ballymurphy. He was born in 1795 and in 1846 to 1847 himself and his family were part of 87 pioneers in America who set off on a wagon train for California and found themselves trapped by snow in Sierra Nevda. They were called the Donner Party volunteers- named after George Donner, their leader. Patrick Breen from Ballymurphy brought his wife and seven children and they all survived. Of the 87 pioneers on this journey, 39 died. Patrick Breen kept a diary of his time. It was reported that some of the people who survived did so by eating the flesh of their dead companions and the indian guides. They were trying to find a faster route across Utah and Nevada. The Breens ended up living in California in a place called San Juan Bautista, California.

Ballynagraine - Ballynagraine is thought to be derived from the Gaelic Baile na Grian, ‘the townland of the sun’. This was the seat of the powerful Kavanagh dynasty. A church, 85 feet long and 16 feet wide stood here. It had a special aisle, which is thought to have been for the private use of the Kavanagh/Butler family. It is thought that this church came to be built as a consequence of the church at Clonygoose being torn down by some Protestant men in Penal times.


The entrance to Borris House & Grounds

A beautiful untouched picturesque Georgian village, full of charm and heritage nestling in the foothills of the Blackstairs mountains. It is situated in the woods surrounding Borris House, residence of the Kavanagh family, lineal representatives of the McMurrough-Kavanaghs - ancient Kings of Leinster. Handsome stone cut buildings and traditional shop and pub fronts add to the appeal of the town. Many original shop fronts remain, and O’Shea’s, a great old-time bar cum grocery cum hardware store!

Borris House - Hidden in the wood-ed Barrow Valley stands this magnificent house which was built in 1731 by Morgan Kavanagh, a descendant of the former Kings of Leinster. It is surrounded by the Blackstairs Mountains. Mount Leinster Borris Housedominates the landscape and the River itself bounds the Estate. There are 600 acres of rolling parkland and ancient oak Woodlandss. One of the country's oldest and best known golf courses lies within the demesne walls. Borris House has remained in the ownership of the Kavanagh family ever since and it was built and is steeped in McMurrough-Kavanagh history. There is a fabulous viaduct in the village along the old railway line. The lovely wooded Valley of the River Barrow is ideal for walks. For Golf enthusiasts Borris Golf club, a nine-hole course is a must.

The Kavanaghs

The Kavanaghs were long associated with the rulers of the area. An old schoolhouse in Borris was inscribed “This school house was built in the year 1832, by money left for that purpose by Mrs. Butler, alias Kavanagh, sister to the late Walter Kavanagh, Esq., of Borris and sister also to present Mr. Kavanagh, under of the superintendence of the Rev. John Walsh P.P.” A massive and magnificent chalice was presented to the Parish Church of Borris by Bishop Jacob Phelan. A large torc, a mixture of silver and tin and weighing over 16 ounces was found on the demesne of Borris. The Kavanagh family owned a huge horn which was thought to have been the symbol presented to the Kavanaghs by which they possessed and ruled the land.

The Liath Meisicith is a very ancient box made of brass covered with silver. It was in the possession of The Kavanaghs for centuries. They presented it to the museum of Trinity College. It contained some loose sheets of vellum with fragments of the Gospels written on them and some ancient water colour drawings of the Apostles. These were thought to have been the work of St. Moling

The  Dolmen, Browneshill CarlowBrowneshill Dolmen - The massive capstone of this dolmen, estimated to weigh at least 100 tonnes, is the largest of its type in Europe. This impressive communal burial chamber dating back to 3300 to 2900 BC is the heaviest capstone to be found in Europe. Situated off the Hacketstown Road, Just 2 miles from Carlow Town. In popular folklore, dolmens were the tables or graves of giants, or druids' altars, or entrances to the Underworld of the Tuatha De Danann.

Carlow Town - A busy market town with excellent shopping. Local attractions include Carlow Castle, The River Barrow where you can hire Canoes. The Court House, The Cathedral, The Croppie Graves, The Carlow Museum, Oak-Park, Brownshill Dolmen and Ducketts Grove. Milford a few miles south is an attractive aquatic junction with lovely walks along the Barrow Track and excellent game and coarse fishing.

Carlow Courthouse - Designed in 1830 by William Morrison. The building of the courthouse was possible because of the generous patronage of the Bruen family of Oak Park. The building is based on the Temple of Llissus in Athens, with the impressive steps hiding the maze of dungeons underneath. A cannon from the Crimean War is seen on the steps. It is said that there was a mix up with the plans and that Carlow got Cork’s Courthouse and Cork got Carlow's.

Carlow Castle - This great keep was formerly one of the most impressive Norman castles in Ireland. Only the western wall and two towers now survive, the remainder having been accidentally blown up in 1814 by "a ninny-pated physician of the name of Middleton" who leased the building for use as a lunatic asylum. He applied blasts of gunpowder for enlarging the windows and diminishing the walls, and brought down two-thirds of the pile into a rubbishy tumulus in memory of his surpassing presumption and folly. The original keep was a three-storey rectangular block with cylindrical corner towers, probably built between 1207 and 1213 by William Marshall on the site of a mote erected by Hugh de Lacy in the 1180s. It may be the earliest example of a "four-towered" keep in the British Isles and appears to have been directly inspired by French examples; notably Nemours (Seine-et-Marne) built between 1160 and 1180. The entrance lies at first-floor level in the north wall and access to all storeys, which had timber floors, was by way of stone stairways in the thickness of the west wall. Ownership of the castle passed to the Crown in 1306 and was later granted to the Earls of Norfolk, who held it until confiscation in 1537. James FitzGerald captured it in 1494, again by Silken Thomas in 1535, and changed hands a number of times before being purchased by Donough, Earl of Thomond in 1616. It fell to the Confederates in 1642 but was later returned to Thomond after being liberated by Ireton in 1650. It is located on the Banks of the River Barrow near Carlow town centre.

The Cathedral Of The Assumption, Carlow - The Cathedral was completed in 1833. It is gothic in design. Thomas Cobden was the main architect. the magnificent tower and lantern, reaching 46 metres, was inspired by the cloth Hall at Burges in Belgium. The story of the Cathedral goes as follows.
In the early 1780's Dean Henry Staunton erected a parish chapel on the site of the present Cathedral . This chapel was dedicated to the blessed virgin Mary under the title of the Assumption and stood on a plot of ground leased from Mr. Edward Halfpenny . By the late 1820's it would appear that the chapel in Carlow was not big enough to cope with the numbers using it. On Easter Monday, 7th April 1828 the first stone was laid in the area in front of the existing chapel. Many fund raising functions were held. One such function was a dinner held in Coffey's hotel, tickets for the dinner cost £1 each.
The building project ran in to difficulties with flooding. Thomas Cobden was then asked to draw up specifications which would overcome these problems. Cobden's plans were dated June 1829, the estimated the cost of labour 3,917pounds 0 shillings and 9 pence.
On completion the Cathedral was very simply furnished. John White a carpenter constructed a lot of the woodwork in it, though Cobden himself didn't think it was possible to construct the alter railings. The only surviving original items of furniture are the bishop's chair and the original stalls.
The successful completion of the building work in 1833 represented a magnificent achievement for the people of Carlow and the diocese who contributed the most of the final cost of the building -£9,000.
Many changes came over the years to how the Cathedral looked. In 1997 the architect Richard H. Pierce was asked to do up the Cathedral. Pierce himself says that all his changes have been based as closely as possible on shapes and patterns which existed in Cobden's time.
A sculptor in memorial to bishop James Doyle (J.K.L. - 1st Bishop of Carlow Cathedral) was finished in 1839. John Hogan was the sculptor. In the statue the Bishop is seen appealing to heaven for the regeneration of his country. Erin is on one knee, her body bent, is beautiful and dignified yet melancholy.

CARRIGDUFF: a beautiful landscaped village situated on the N80 Carlow - Wexford road on the outskirts of Bunclody. It is c gateway to the Blackstairs Mountains, with a scenic route b\ the tree-lined hills of the Clody river valley, bringing one to the start of the Mount Leinster Drive. There are a wide variety ol walks in the area, from Woodlandss and country lanes to the slopes and summit of Mount Leinster itself. The fine outdool heated swimming pool and toddlers pool in the centre o1 Carrigduff is a hive of activity during July and August, with beverages and snacks available. Meanwhile, the adjoining tennis court and new playground are in use all year round.

Castletown Castle - Bunclody Road, Carlow - A small 19th Tudor/Gothic house incorporating a truncated tower-house which was greatly altered by William Roberston in 1835. Now a fine neo-gothic castle with beautifully cut ashlar granite featuring the usual ornate Robertson hallmarks. The original castle had several owners including the Kavanaghs, Bagenal's, George Carew and the Earl of Kildare. Its owner for a short period in the I 780's was the wayward Thomas "Buck" Whaley, who squandered a fortune of £60,000 and estates in three counties before he died, almost penniless, in 1800, aged 34. Castletown has been owned by the Monahan family since 1932.

If your town or village is not included in the above list then please email me with your location and its history and have your location added to this collection of towns of Carlow

Email Michael Brennan, with your contribution.

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