Five Facts you probably didn’t know about Co. Carlow

Carlow Town, located in the heart of the South-East of Ireland is often overlooked because Kildare and Kilkenny are just a stone’s throw away. This is the reason why Carlow would make an ideal base for a short break so you can discover the real hidden gems in this beautiful county.

Why not discover a few facts about the hidden gems in the County

Easter was determined in Co. Carlow

Easter is the most important day of Christianity but by the 5thand 6thcentury there was a divergence within the church as how to calculate Easter. In a nutshell, the Celtic Church celebrated Easter on a different date than the Roman Catholic Church.

In 630 AD Pope Honorius wrote to the Irish threatening excommunicacion if they did not conform to the Roman way of calculating Easter. As a result of this letter the church in Ireland held a synod in 632 at Magh Léne or as it is known today Old Leighlin in Co. Carlow. The synod probably took place at the site of Old Leighlin Cathedral which is built upon the ruins of an early monastic site founden by St. Gobban in the early seventh century. At the time of the synod St. Laserian, who is also known as Molaise, who was the successor of Gobban was the leader of the religious community here.

Hard to imagine that all that was going on where there were no proper roads in the country, never mind the economical impact it had on the local community. Evidence suggests that at the time about 1500 monks lived on the site where the Church is now.

Today Old Leighlin is a small rural village a few miles to the South of Carlow town and St. Lazerian’s Cathedral now belongs to the Church of Ireland.


Carlow was once the capital of Ireland

Carlow Castle was constructed by William Marshal (about 1207 – 1213) to guard the vital river crossing and it served as capital of the Lordship of Ireland under King Edward III from 1361 – 1374. The castle remained impressive until 1814 when a Dr. Middleton tried to convert it into a lunatic asylum and blew it to bits. Only the Western wall with its circular towers remains today. However it still is an impressive landmark in the town.

Today Carlow Town has about 23000 inhabitants and provides the ideal base for day trips in the neighbouring counties. With severalB&B’s, hotels and selfcatering accommodation, it caters for all budgets and needs.

All shops are in walking distance on Tullow and Dublin Street. The Fairgreen Shopping Centreis also located close to the town centre.

The oldest working bridge in Europe is in Leighlinbridge, Co. Carlow

The focal point of Leighlinbridgeis its valerian-bearded bridge, built in 1320 by Maurice Jakis the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin beside the Black Castle which is one of the earliest Norman castles in Ireland. Although the bridge was widened to accommodate motor traffic, it is still the original structure.

Although only small, Leighlinbridge has a close knit and active community which manage and maintain a few nice community gardens. It even won the gold medal in the Entente Florale competition in 2001.

Leighlinbridge is the ideal base for walking, boating and cycling and is part of the Mount-Leinster-Heriage drive.The Lord Bagenal Hotelprovides its own mooring and is one of the finest hotels in the County.

St. Patricks College is the oldest Catholic college in Ireland

St. Patricks College Carlowwas founded in 1782 by Dr. James Keefe, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin and his co-adjutor Bishop Daniel Delaney and opened in 1793. From the start it was both a lay college and a priests seminary with the studies of Humanities at the core of the academic curriculum. However, in 1892 it became a seminary exclusively.

In 1990, nearly 100 years later it finally opened it’s doors again to lay students. The last priests were ordained here in 2001 and theoretically, the college is still open for seminarians. However, there are only very few at the present so the semenarians from the diocese of Kildare and Leighlin are sent to Maynooth.

Today the college is located in the heart of Carlow town in the “Cultural Quarter” with the Carlow County museum, the library, Carlow Cathedral and the Visual/ GBS Theatreliterally on its door step.

The Barrow is the second longest river in the country

At 192 km (119 miles) the Barrow(An Bhearú) is the second longest river in Ireland. Along with the River Nore and the River Suir, the Barrow is one of the Three Sisters.

The Barrow Valley is considered one of the most scenic and fertile valleys in Ireland where several waves of immigrants left their stamp. The evidence can be found all over Co. Carlow and beyond.

To name but one example: St. Mullins was and still is a magical place founded by Moling in the middle of the 7thcentury. Not only did he build the first saw mill but also established the longest running ferry across the river Barrow. The ferry stopped in the late 1960s and was running for about 1300 years continously. St. Mullins had the same significance as Glendalough and Clonmacnoise at the time, so it’s a real hidden gem waiting to be discovered.

The Clashganny Lock between St. Mullins and Borris is one of the most scenic landscapes on the river and probably the most photographed lock on the Barrow. The picture speaks for itself.

Today the river offers several activities for the entire family. Cycling, Hiking, boating or a leisurely walk and much more are waiting for anybody who is ready to indulge in the landscape along its banks.

St. Mullins – 1400 Birthday Party

Guided Tours in Ireland

In the tranquil landscape between the foothills of the Blackstairs Mountains and the bank of the river Barrow, the now nearly forgotten village of St. Mullins still withstands the ravages of time. Well known in pre-Christian times by virtue of a holy well and standing its ground for several centuries against Vikings, Normans and the Irish themselves, only ruins and fallen down buildings remind of the once busy hustle and bustle of a lively early monastery.

It’s hard to believe that it’s famous name saint, Moling, was born 14oo years ago and maybe it is a blessing that this birthday is not greatly celebrated. That way this special place in South County Carlow will keep it’s charme and natural beauty.

Moling soon discovered the wealth of the Barrow valley and build a corn mill which led the farmers in the area to settle even closer together to form a loose community. Later Moling instigated a ferry service which was in constant use until the middle of the 1960s. Only the progress of modern times and with it the car stopped this service after more than 1300 years of continious operation.

After Clonmacnoise, and Glendalough, St. Mullins was once rated the third most important ecclesiastical site in all Ireland. Not much is left of the once majestic buildings but the spirit of generations long gone.

After the Vikings came up the river to raid the monastry several times, the Normans built a motte to defend the area. Even the kings of Leinster recognised the special spirit in St. Mullins and found their final resting place here.

Walking around the area you still can feel the special magic of times past.

The last big historic “event” was the rebellion of 1798 and today their graves are identified with green markers which are dotted all among the graves.

Don’t forget to stop on the view point for Clashganny for a few pictures before you head back to Carlow.

Come on, let’s celebrate St. Molings birthday this year…

Guided Tour in Waterford

Christmas Spirit in Waterford City

What a great way to get into the spirit of Christmas – Winterval in Waterford – still time to go

Waterford in the South-East of Ireland has a lot to offer for the entire family.

For history buffs – visit the oldest Norman tower on the island: Reginalds’ tower where you can explore the Viking past of this city.

Built on the remains of a timber structure it is nothing short of history and interesting features inside.

…or why not take a look in the newly built Medieval Museum – which houses Santas Grotto. So you can entertain the kids as well as yourself…

and why not get the discount ticket which covers for the entrance into the Bishops Palace as well.

Again… loads to see for the little ones while you enjoy the re-enactment of Waterfords rich history.

Get yourself onto the horse-drawn carriage to get an idea of Winterval – the Christmas Festival in Waterford.

Make sure you get a ride on the nostalgic carousel or try out a day in a Viking village.

All well done and makes you hungry for more – don’t worry, nobody has to get hungry or thirsty here. A lot of huts prepare food from all over the world.

And when you get tired why not relax in Reg’s pub where you can enjoy a continental mulled wine while your kids enjoy a Christmas movie.

Make sure you don’t miss the light show after dark behind the Medieval Museum.

As there is so much to see and do in Waterford city alone- we intend to go down again soon. From an Ice-rink to a petting zoo and many more attractions, not to forget the friendly people we met during our 3-day stay.

Waterford also has ample parking ability around the city which is easily accessible from Carlow and anywhere else in the country due to great roadworks and ample sign posting. There is also plenty of accommodation for every pocket available. From B&Bs on the outskirts of the city up to 4-Star-Hotels with all amenities.