unspoiled banks of the River Barrow, the open fields and woods, attract
a huge variety of birds and waterfowl. Mallard and moorhen can be
seen fussing about in the quieter stretches. Kingfishers flit above
the water, while herons wait patiently for dinner to swim within
striking distance. Farmlands harbour lapwing, thrush, rook, hooded
crow, pheasant and woodpigeon. Other species commonly seen in woodland
areas include the little grebe, woodcock, the shy sparrowhawk, kestrel,
whitethroat, goldcrest, spotted flycather, long-tail tit, chiffchaff
and many, many more.
The River Barrow is a nature wonderland, providing
many hours of enjoyment for visitors cruising its waters. Electric
blue and emerald green damsel flies share the riverside flora with
red admirals, painted ladies, peacocks and common blue butterflies"
second longest navigable river, the Barrow, is noted for the beauty
and variety of its landscape, the fascination of its historic hinterland
and the picturesque charm of its riverside towns.
island-studded straight stretch of water leads to Leighlinbridge.
Glide through the graceful arches of the oldest bridge on the river.
The attractive 7-arch structure was built in 1320 by Maurice Jakis
and the castle which dominates the river is known as the Black Castle,
originally built in 1180. The sea of tranquillity may be on the
moon, but the earthbound version is the stretch of river between
Leighlinbridge and Bagenalstown, where Garrison House is located.
picturesque village of Leighlinbridge
celebrated Dinn Righ ring fort (not open to the public) on the west
bank presides over pastoral beauty and pastoral peace in equal measure
after which a cut leads to Rathellen Lock and on to Bagenalstown.
The approach to Bagenalstown is infused with the character of its
18th century origins, with lovely stone-cut buildings, a drawbridge
and a picturesque lock. Cruise on through the east arch of a railway
viaduct after which a series of locks will keep the crew busy; these
include locks at Fenniscourt and Slyguff.
click for River Barrow Valley Guide
Along the River:
Ballyellen lower lock, near Goresbridge.
Photo By James Burke
with its graceful 9-arch bridge, lies between Upper and Lower Ballyellen
locks. International buyers in search of high quality Irish horses
are attracted to the famous horse fairs held here every three months.
The presence of so many locks over a short 9 km of waterway, signals
a change in character to the landscape. The tension between the
valley and the surrounding hills increases and adds visual splendour
to the journey to Ballytiglea Bridge. Moor here for Borris (3 km)
Borris is the home of the Kavanaghs, an old Irish family and part
of the MacMurrough Kavanagh dynasty, former kings of Leinster. Beautiful
stone-cut buildings and traditional shop and pub fronts add to the
appeal of the town. A 9-hole golf course and a linear park with
picnic area and tennis courts provide pleasant distractions. The
pubs with their traditional music sessions and friendly atmosphere
have gained nation-wide recognition.
The river Barrow at Borris.
Borris Lock a miniature one-eyed bridge conceals a tiny harbour.
It was from this place that Arthur Kavanagh, who was born without
limbs in 1831, set forth by boat to Westminster to fulfil his duties
as Member of Parliament. He was Lord Lieutenant of County Carlow,
Member of the Privy Council of Ireland, local magistrate and a superb
horseman. Further downstream, the Rhine-like aspect of the valley
can be appreciated to the full, with the Blackstairs Mountains on
one side and Saddle Hill on the other pinching the river tight between
the valley walls. The hills flow down to the river, retreat, and
flow again, all clad in a huge variety of deciduous trees, some
of which bend their heads over the stream, creating rich leafy banks
of great beauty.
Bagenalstown viaduct, river barrow, photo by James Burke
broad graceful curves of the weirs and the setting of the locks
at Ballingrane, Clashganny and Ballykeenan provide beautiful subjects
for your camera and your holiday album. The river bends and bends
again past Silaire Woods and its choir of birds. This stretch of
water is nature at its most gentle, which makes the final bend all
the more surprising and exciting, when the colourful town of Gragnamangh
is suddenly revealed on the west bank, with Brandon Hill making
a dramatic statement above it.
Graiguenamangh is in Co. Kilkenny, while Tinnahinch, on the east bank, is in Co.
Carlow. The beautiful bridge floodlit at night, links the two and
dates from 1767 when a canal system was being built on the Barrow
to improve navigation. Before the bridge and perched above the town
is historic Duiske Abbey, now beautifully restored. Norman monks
from Stanley Abbey, Wiltshire, founded it in 1204. Take time to
walk through the town with its great selection of shops, pubs and
music. Those of you who like long walks can take the road to Brandon
Hill or head for Tinnahinch bridge and join the South Leinster Way
long-distance walking trail..
continues in right hand column
Video filmed at Clashganny & Tinnahinch - a scenic drive from Borris to Graiguenamanagh and both easily accessible by road from Leighlinbridge. Follow the river from here to Bagenalstown and turn left at Church of Ireland then right at junction past petrol station to Borris. Ask anyone for directions.
beautiful River Barrow
Barrow River and the Barrow line represent two distinct cruising experiences,
each with its own character and both guaranteed to enchant and delight
you and your cruising companions.
BARROW RIVER The first section explores the journey downstream, from Athy
to St. Mullins, and describes the marvelous experience of cruising on
the River Barrow, with all its weirs, locks and great variety of scenery.
Cruising enthusiasts who have sampled other waterways are now turning
to the River Barrow to meet the challenge of this exciting river. They
are finding a water wonderland, which matches the great inland waterways
of Europe for the sheer beauty of the valley it has carved.
Milford on the river Barrow. Photo by James Burke
BARROW LINE The second section, illustrates the leisurely journey along
the Barrow Line of the Grand Canal from Lowtown to Athy, where it joins
the river navigation.
restored lifting bridge, Bagenalstown
BARROW NAVIGATION The Barrow is Ireland's second largest river. It runs
for 192 km from source to sea and is navigable for hire cruisers from
Athy to St. Mullins, some 68 km. There are 23 locks, including the sea
lock at St. Mullins. The Barrow Line of the Grand Canal is 46 km long
and forms the second part of the navigation carrying 9 locks between Lowtown
and the junction of the Barrow at Athy. Running westwards and eastwards
from Lowtown is the main line of the Grand Canal, which can be cruised
to Shannon and Dublin respectively providing 300 km of pleasure waterway.
Barrow hinterland is imbued with a riverside culture which is steeped
in tradition, a people who are warm and welcoming and a plethora of pubs
and ..s where the best of Irish food, entertainment and hospitality
can be enjoyed. Cruising the River Barrow is a unique experience due to
its unspoilt, uncommercialized and uncrowded waters. There are no long
queues passing through locks and no problems getting space at quaysides.
The waters of the Barrow are suitable for swimmers, while the tow path
and woodlands offer a superb walking environment. Cyclists and walkers
can explore the historic castles and ruins and the scenic countryside
on the quiet roads each side of the river.
HISTORY OF THE RIVER BARROW NAVIGATION
300 years before the Christian era, legend has it that a great battle
took place to capture the fort of Dinn Righ, a large mound near Leighlinbridge.
The presence of such formidable defensive structure indicates the importance
of the Barrow as a strategic military highway as well as a highway for
commerce since earliest times. Evidence of early Christian and later medieval
church establishments can be seen all along the river, notably at or near
St. Mullins, Old Leighlin, Carlow, Sleaty, Nurney and Monasterevean.
The Barrow was a significant commercial canalised waterway right up to
the 1950's with important river ports at Athy, Carlow, Graignamanagh and
New Ross. Barges carried consignments of malting barley to Dublin as raw
material for the famous Guinness stout, which was transported back downstream
in its finished state. (Fair exchange being no robbery!)
beet-filled barges supplied Ireland's first sugar factory at Carlow. The
Barrow is now completely given over to pleasure - your pleasure. Bon Voyage!
The River Barrow offers riverside walks, birdwatching, wildlife-spotting (including otters), peace and tranquility.
continued from left hand column
downstream, the valley becomes deeper, with first the west and then
the east banks carrying tiers of trees on steep hills which tumble
colourfully towards the river all the way to St. Mullins and the
end of the navigation...
Mullins is a scenically charming riverside village with an impressive
ecclesiastical history and is one of the most important religious
foundations in Co. Carlow. A walk of about 2 kms from the mooring
leads to the graceful ruin of the monastery founded by St. Moling
in the 7th century. The kings of South Leinster, including the MacMurrough-Kavanaghs,
are buried in the precincts. A small bridle path behind the ruins
leads to St. Molling's Well, from which close up views of the river,
its weir and old millrace can be enjoyed".
Barge at St Mullins Lock. Photo by James Burke