Rothar Routes

Cycle routes & pilgrim journeys in Ireland and Europe …..

Posts tagged ‘Carlow Town’

Old Carlow Walking Trail – Where were we?

What else would you be doing on a Bank Holiday Monday only going for a ramble. Seeing as we can’t leave our 5kms zone, we decided instead to indulge in some time travel. What was the town like in previous centuries?

I wonder can you identify where we were? If I have wrongly identified old names forgive me! Most of the detail here was from some articles my father had put together while researching the location of the old walls of Carlow Town..

I’ll pop in some visual clues as we make our way to help identify where we went.

We confined ourselves to the Town Centre, starting in Tullow Street with our first place of interest, a licensed premises and hotel since 1768, still bearing the same name! Formerly known as ‘The Farmers Inn’.

1768!

Across the road is the premises, ‘The Plough’, only in existence since 1829! There was a hotel in Tullow Street called the Plough Hotel, presumably on the same site.

1829!

I’ve often been in Lowrys Lane without realising it as I called to the family run hardware opposite the ‘Beehive Hut’ ….any takers?

A window looking near Lowry’s Lane.. or thereabouts!

Passed quickly by the Old RIC Barracks and then tried to book a room in the Commercial Hotel but couldn’t find the entrance! Anyone got an idea where this hotel was once to be found? Served as a famous ballroom for many years in a later life..

RIC Barracks was here

We took a small u turn to bring us around to Cockpit Lane….

Cockpit Lane

In 1986 Éire Óg produced a great local history ‘Friends and Neighbours’ that researched over 500 families that lived along a number of streets in Carlow Town. At the heart of it all was Bridewell Lane and Brewery Lane. Bridewell Lane, so called because it led to the Gaol, was largely demolished and sadly there is no trace of Brewery Lane. But folk memory is great and thanks to interviews with many of the families a great picture of the area can be ascertained from the descriptions and family photographs.

Source ‘Friends and Neighbours’

All the houses were whitewashed and had half doors with lots of music and singing.

We are now in the heart of old Carlow; Bridewell Lane was formerly known as Somers Lane.

Leaving Bridewell Lane we pass by the Sessions House – used to be the Crown and Record Courts and we slipped onto the Strand!

The Sessions House
Windows on The Strand…..what is the current name of this street?

From the Strand we strolled down Coal Market , where once coal was sold …. and much more besides; Swans Electrical started out down here..

The Moneen was an area between the old Town and the Castle, prone to flooding at the time of the building of the Castle. In more recent time and, for many years, locals visited John Flynn for a cure for warts on this laneway which brought us towards Skinners Lane and Wellington Quay..

Wellington Quay
Entrance to Skinners Lane?

Leaving the east bank of the Barrow we crossed over Wellington Bridge

and continued onto Batchelors Walk…

It was a short hop onto Barrow Street and Morrins Lane

When Cromwell came to Ireland he ordered the Irish to ‘hell or to Connaught’… I wonder did he mean Connaught Lane?

Is the entrance to the Town Park Connaught Lane?

Back on the east side of the Barrow we made our way up North Cotts Lane towards Dublin Street…

We retraced our steps back to South Cotts Lane and Fairy Lane / Templecroney Lane…Templecroney commemorates Naomh Croneybeg..

Surely the most unusual name of any street in Carlow must have been ‘Labour-In-Vain Lane’, which took its name from a sign on a tavern representing a person trying to wash a blackman white….I kid you not! From there we made our way back onto Dublin Street where we sought to find The Bear Inn which was located at no 64 Dublin Street. The Red Cow Inn which was located across the road at no 2 Dublin Street…

Further up the street we sought out the Blackamoor Inn, 58 Dublin Street and the Crown and Sceptre, 59 Dublin Street – taverns from the 1700s….

It was time to start making our way back home and we took a peek at the house where The Globe Inn was located in the 1600s and where, wait for it, King James stayed briefly after the Battle of the Boyne.. a wall plaque displayed the initials of WJR (though it looks like WIR to me) 1699 which reference the then owners Jonathan and Ruth Watson..

We then went via Cuckoo Lane, or should I say Hunt Street, and tried to get a meal in the Imperial Hotel but there was no one serving..

Hunt Street, formerly known as Cuckoo Lane and now known as …?
The Imperial Hotel ??

A right turn on to Mass House Lane and back into Tullow Street to finish a lovely afternoon walk with a difference..

An image on Mass House Lane…. now known as …?
Love this modern masterpiece..

I referenced the ‘Friends and Neighbours’ Booklet earlier. Sadly it is out of print but it is a brilliant example of local history which was complied by a FÁS teamwork scheme back in 1986. The Committee overseeing the publication was Dermot & Kathleen O Brien, James Brady and Nancy O Brien. Researchers were Adel Delaney, Karen Doran, Nuala Foley, Joan Gaffney, Robert Hayden, Sandra James, Jo Kirwan, Esther Moore, Karen O Hagan and Eithne Ware. I wonder could it be reprinted? I’m sure lots of people would like to have a copy.

Walk and Gawk!

We all know the benefits of walking for our physical and mental health. Consciously looking for the wonder in the world around us amplifies the impact of walking on our wellbeing. It’s fantastic to see the massive increase in walking and running during this time of lockdown. More and more people are taking to the roads and streets of our towns and villages.

Here in Carlow, the O Brien Road seems to be the epicentre for most walking activity. I prefer to take a different approach.

Join me on a virtual 11km walk that takes me away from the crowds and inspires me as I walk to look afresh at my surroundings.

An easy starting point is Askea car park on the O Brien Road. My route takes me away from this busy thoroughfare as much as possible.

The map above shows a 3km radius within which the walk takes place, so no problem keeping within the 5km limit.

There’s approximately 4kms of this route off road so that’s a really nice aspect of in town walking that many aren’t aware is possible. Leave Askea, head over on to the Tullow Road, turn right after the filling station and follow the road around until you meet the River Burrin at The Laurels Housing Estate. When we were kids we followed the ‘cart track’ out to here to get to the Burrin for a swim and adventure. The cart track is long gone but Carlow County Council added a linear park along the River Burrin from Hanover Bridge all the way out as far as the Laurels.

It’s very under utilised and should be better promoted as a walking route.

Just beside the path is an ancient Fairy Fort; fairy forts, fairy trees, were and are a common feature of the Irish country side and God help any farmer or worker who interfered with a fort or a tree – they were faced with a wretched life thereafter! Every community in the country had these locations where ‘ the Fairies’, ‘Leprechauns’, ‘the Little People’, ‘the Good people’ or the ‘Síoga’ lived. There was often white thorn tree present. I had a visitor, a young lady from Canada, arrive at my doorstep a couple of years ago who was obsessed with fairies and she was mad to see fairy forts and all the old places. She was enthralled. We shouldn’t forget or dismiss our history and culture!

The Fairy Ring at the River Burrin Linear Park Walkway.
The Fairy Ring at the River Burrin Linear Park Walkway.

The River Burrin was Tramore for many Town families and we have fond memories of trekking up the railway line to the New Burrin and picnicking on top of the hill just above the weir. This is now easier access from close to Éire Óg Club.

The New Burrin, but not as we remember it!

Continuing over the road at Éire Óg, the pathway turns to a rough path heading towards the railway line and a very low bridge which you will have to ‘duck’ under to pass. It can be muddy under the bridge but immediately you reappear on the tree lined linear path along the River Burrin. The River is a haven of wildlife with lots of swans, water hens, trout and even salmon which can be spotted at the Hanover Bridge as they may their way up river to their spawning grounds every winter. The path ends at the Gala shop beside the bridge near Woodies. Cross over the road and another path continues into the bus park, keeping you off road and passing the nicely refurbished weir. Aldi is on the opposite side of the River, continue across there Kilkenny Road and into Hanover Park (due a facelift soon) and out onto Kennedy Avenue with the River on your left.

Carlow County Council always plant a fantastic display of flowers at Hanover Bridge, opposite the Post Office. A nice place to stop and sit down for a few minutes.

Continue heading along Kennedy Street and onto Castle Hill, turn left down into Mill Lane and take in the views of Carlow Castle, built in the 13th Century by William Marshall.

An incredible fact is that Carlow was the Capital of Ireland for 14 years between 1361 and 1374 when the Exchequer was moved here from Dublin only to return there following repeated attacks on the Town, which was on the edge of The Pale – the area of the country under English rule.

The Castle is unfortunately now in ruins thanks to Dr Middleton who accidentally blew it up in 1814 to build a lunatic asylum. I think he would have been a suitable candidate as the first patient…

Carlow Castle recently suffered storm damage and is currently under repair and inaccessible.

After the castle take a left and a short zig zag brings you down to the Barrow beneath ‘Wellington Bridge’. Cross over into Graiguecullen and follow the Killeshin Road out of Town and take a right onto Church Road, rather than follow the boring ring road around Town. Cut back in to the heart of Graiguecullen, up St Clare’s Road and Pears Road, passing the Croppy Graves. How often do we pass by without giving a thought to what it represents… 640 United Irishmen were massacred on Tullow Street and Potato Market by the Yeomen in 1798. Can you imagine the carnage and the scenes in Carlow on that day…..

The Croppy Memorial

Head over and cross through the stunning Carlow Town park, take the pedestrian bridge over The River Barrow. We turned our backs on the River for decades but the Council deserve read credit for the beautiful development of the Riverside here.

Aspiro Choir performing the Dawn Chorus on the banks of the Barrow.
Carlow Town Park

Head up Cox’s Lane, and over onto Brown Street, a very old part of Carlow Town. At the end of Brown Street, cross into St Patricks College and follow the road around to the rear and complete a lap of the playing field. An oasis in the middle of the Town.

Carlow College
Carlow College and replica of Sleaty High Cross, lit up in green for St Patricks Day some years ago

Founded in 1782 St Pats is the 2nd oldest university level institution in Ireland and was for many years a seminary for the Diocese.

With my interest in pilgrimage routes, I’ve been particularly interested in the life of the pilgrim priest Fr Joseph Braughal of Graiguenamanagh who attended the College. He vowed after a serious illness in 1822 to go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land. When he recovered he left Ireland flush with £5 in his pocket, making his way to Paris and then Rome. Illness was to be a constant companion of his for the rest of his life yet he made his way from Rome, via Cyprus to Beirut and then Jerusalem. He returned to Rome via Cairo, where he suffered from fever and dsyentery. 40,000 people died of plague in the city in that year. Sounds familiar now… He eventually arrived back in Carlow in 1838 but returned to Italy to live the life of a hermit and seems to have settled in Monte Cassino. He again pilgrimed to Jeruslem and returned to Monte Cassino where he died in 1850 and was laid to rest near the tomb of St Benedict.

Anyway back to finishing the route, head back out onto College Street, take a left onto Tullow Street and return via Staplestown Road to Askea. Almost 11kms, a rewarding walk with great natural views and some local history to add a bit more interest to your exercise regime! Enjoy!

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