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Carlow - A travel report by Hugh
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Carlow,  Ireland - flag Ireland -  Carlow
4555 readers

horourke's travel reports

A little county with great places.

  16 votes
In the South East of Ireland, fitting snugly between the Slieve Margy plateau on the West and the Granite foldings of Wicklow and the Blackstairs on the East, Carlow is a fertile triangle of rich soils and sights.

Spanish fortress style Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin into Heaven
Spanish fortress style Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin into Heaven
For decades Carlow was neglected by all the Irish tourist guide books and advertisements. Even today few people come to spend two week holidays here. Seek out the more secluded spots and serene calm will reward yur efforts.

It is easy to reach Carlow if you are free for even one day in Dublin. One hour will take you by car along the N7 , M7 and N9. Trains come from Heuston Station through the rich farmlands of Kildare. Buses are available two hourly from George's quay by the river Liffey in Dublin city centre.

If you have lots of time you might even walk by the Grand canal and the towpath of the river Barrow from Athy. As you approach the principal town, Carlow itself, the low profile of the Slieve Margy hills makes a backdrop, green and a little wild.

Architecture is not the strongest suit of the town and county but a couple of items are as the poet Padraig Colm said of classical phrases in rough speech "As in barren earth Grecian vase"

The Courthouse is a nineteenth century neoclassical reproduction with doric style columns brooding over the administration of justice. The Spanish Fortress style cathedral is another statement from the nineteenth century a little offset by the spare spire of St.Mary's church as it was a rival added at the same period. Dean swift of literary fame was scathing in his summary "Poor town proud people, low church high steeple"

On the credit side Tyndal who first explained why the sky is blue was born and schooled a mere seven kilometers from the town centre.Resonance was another great field of his studies and he was an avid mountain climber until accidentally poisoned by his wife!

Just five kilometers to the west of the town is a precious fragment of Hbernoromanesque stone carving from the twewlfth century at Killeshin.

Two towers and the west curtain of a Norman Castle in the town centre recall our great association with William the Marshall earl of pembroke.

Favourite spots:
Altamount lake in winter
Altamount lake in winter
My favourite spot in all the world has become the garden at Altamount just off the road from Carlow town to Wexford and almost in the dead centre of the county. This is place of many moods, of wonderful colour and a memorial to a woman of great courage.

Corona North born a daughter of the Watson Family at Ballydarton near the village of Fenagh, she lived here with her father, mother and husband through the latter phases of her life toiling and finally succeeding in bringing this horticultural treasure to the safety of preservation.

There are two sheltered seats by the manmade lake where even in driving rain you can be secluded from the cares of every day. A the end of the long walk there is another seat sheltered by an exotic pine where the water hens, the ducks and very occasionally a regal swan will make an ever changing view of exquisite visual impact and tranquility.

Completing the picture are the budleija bushes with their summer riot of butterflies

What's really great:
Altamount lake in summer
Altamount lake in summer
Mount Leinster, the graceful granite border between counties Carlow and Wexford is the first high hill i ever climbed. The stillness of the lotus eaters' region where there is no traffic noise or hum drum daily clutter seeped into my consciousness for the very first time on these slopes. Even the majesty of the Schilthorn, three times as high is a magnificient echo (albeit a deafening one) of that first experience.

Mount Leinster
Mount Leinster
In the town centre is a bronze sculpture - The Liberty Tree -commemorating a massacre that happened here in the frenzied years after the French Revolution.

The Dolmen at Browne's hill has the largest capstone of any such neolithic monument.

River Barrow in Autumn
River Barrow in Autumn
Lots and lots of varied accomodation to suit most tastes and pockets can be accessed through the tourist office by the Cathedral in College street. A large hostel is situated on the Kilkenny road just opposite the Institute of Technology. No five star hotels but several fourstar options, Seven Oaks on the Athy road (my favourite), The Dolmen on the Kilkenny road and an assortment of guesthouse of good quality filll up the menu.

Slieve Margy
Slieve Margy
Cinema if you like that we have three screens. Lots of pubs and even a night club in the Din Ri hotel in the town centre.

Several bars provide live music on selected nights.

Occasionally there is dancing and thrice yearly for one week at a time ther e is excellent amateur theatre

Liberty Tree
Liberty Tree
The park on the West side of the river is a place of peace near the centre of bustle. You can climb up the gentle slope of the pyramid like hill that hides many changes including a church spire!! and look South to see the peak of the Blackstairs mountains.

Duckettts Grove ten km to the east of the town has a ruined mansion with magnificently sun-walled gardens in which to wander

The Sven Oaks hotel has the most reliable and highest quality restauarant in town. It is not the most exciting but I have never found reason for complaint there. The Lotus and Lemon Grass are Asian type food often very good with the occasional Faux Pas. Teach Dolmen at the East end of Tullow Street generally good.

Other recommendations:
Ruined Romanesque church
Ruined Romanesque church
Milford some six km south on the river Barrow is worth the walk but you may also drive there in comfort on a road almost parallel to the River

Published on Tuesday November 27th, 2007

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Mon, Jun 16 2008 - 10:21 AM rating by arohi

it was nice to read about ierland i i always had an wish to visit that place. thanks for sharing .

Sun, Jun 08 2008 - 04:06 PM rating by eirekay

Hugh, this is just lovely. Worth ***** for the pictures alone! I am so sorry I missed it the first time around!

Thu, Nov 29 2007 - 01:23 AM rating by downundergal

Sounds like a nice town. You have loaded some nice photos - I love the two different seasons in the park.

Wed, Nov 28 2007 - 05:45 AM rating by bineba

Excellent report. It's great to travel, but equally important to like where you live the rest of the time!

Tue, Nov 27 2007 - 05:08 PM rating by mistybleu

I haven't been to Ireland in a long time but this report makes me want to go. The pictures are wonderful. Keep up the good work.

Tue, Nov 27 2007 - 01:55 PM rating by davidx

This is not an area that I have ever thought of visiting - UNTIL NOW! Great report.

Tue, Nov 27 2007 - 10:51 AM rating by rangutan

A well written and elegant report [4.3]

Tue, Nov 27 2007 - 10:24 AM rating by marianne

Very nice report and a good promotion for co Carlow. Next time I'll be in Dublin, I will certainly try to get to Altamount.

Tue, Nov 27 2007 - 08:54 AM rating by szidonia

It is great, I like this report very much. Warm feelings and deep knowledge of details. There is a big challenge in writing about the place you live.
Wish sitting in one of the sheltered seats by the Altamount lake until the tranquility of place settles into me...

Tue, Nov 27 2007 - 01:01 AM rating by murrayskinner

Nice report. Never been in that area but have been to Kilrglin and Kinsale - Drove through the gap of Dunloe

Tue, Nov 27 2007 - 12:29 AM rating by jorgesanchez

Delicious report, written with much love. I would like to visit the garden at Altamount.

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