LEIGHLINBRIDGE:

The Leighlin district is rich in history, favoured with fertile land, enhanced by the river Barrow which meanders slowly through the village, bringing a wealth of activities to the area. With its narrow winding streets that rise and fall with the lie of the land, grey limestone malthouses and jagged castle ruins overlooking a 14th century bridge, the centre of the little town of Leighlinbridge opens a vista of an earlier Ireland to the visitor. The foundation for its beauty lies directly with its people who demonstrate a sense of pride and work tirelessly to preserve, maintain and enhance this unique area.

Leighlinbridge is spanned here by a fine valerian stone bridge, reputedly one of the oldest functioning bridges in Europe with the Black Castle on its eastern side. One of the earliest Norman castles in Ireland, all that remains of the original Castle is the west half of the tower approximately 50 feet high, and part of the bawn wall. The original "Black Castle" was erected by Hugh de Lacy in 1181, while the present castle is reported to have been built by Sir Edward Bellingham in 1547. Below the castle lies the ruin of the first Carmelite priory in Ireland which was built by the Norman, Carew in 1270.

Leighlinbridge has been the recipient of many environmental awards in recent times including county winner in the National Tidy Towns Competition , first in the Barrow Awards, overall national winner in Ireland's Green Town 2000 and the village has been recently selected to represent Ireland in the prestigious European "Entente Florale" competition in 2001. Adjudication takes place on 24.07.01 when a group of 10 European judges visit the village.

Situated at the northern entrance to the village is a sculpture by Michael Warren, which depicts the thrones of the ancient seat of the Kings of South Leinster at Dinn Righ - "The hill of the Kings". The sculpture serves as a reminder that the Kings of Leinster lived adjacent to the village of Leighlinbridge.

Things to do:

Visitors will find many walking routes around Leighlinbridge. The village is located on "The Barrow Way" and one can follow the towpath to St. Mullins or Graiguenamanagh. The walk is a major access point for bird watching and allows for sightings of a rich variety of river life - swans, mallard, heron, kingfisher and hen pheasant are regularly to be seen. Hiking in the nearby Blackstairs Mountains is particularly popular. For further details on these routes please consult the activities section under www.carlowtourism.com

Two miles from Leighlinbridge, St. Lazerian's Cathedral, Old Leighlin was built in the 13th century on the site of a church founded in 632 A.D. This church was one of the foremost monastic houses in Leinster at the time with over 1,500 monks in residence. An important 7th century church synod took place here which determined the date of Easter for the entire Christian world.

Cruising on the Barrow - The ideal way of exploring the Barrow's rich riverside culture is to hire a cabin cruiser and travel its length stopping off at Leighlinbridge. The local marina in the village offers berthing for up to 30 boats. For further details please consult the River Barrow under www.carlowtourism.com

Anglers Paradise - The Barrow offers angling enthusiasts excellent fishing on some of the most delightful stretches of waterway in Ireland. Game anglers on the Barrow will find good trout and salmon with bream and hybrids being the main attractions in the Leighlinbridge area.

Golf - Leighlinbridge is situated centrally in Co. Carlow, with a host of Ireland's finest golf courses within a short drive. The most noted courses in the area are Carlow Town Golf Club, an 18 hole course ranked among the best inland courses in Ireland. Further south of the county is the 9 hole course at Borris - one of the most picturesque clubs in Ireland with Mount Leinster and the Blackstairs Mountains to the east and the Barrow Valley to the west. Mount Wolseley & Killerig Castle Golf Clubs offer golfers a formidable challenge, situated near Tullow in the north east of the county.

Accommodation

There are a great range of places to stay both in and around Leighlinbridge from four star hotels to Bed & Breakfast and Hostel accommodation. In the heart of the village is the Lord Bagenal Inn - an excellent family owned and run hotel, with a reputation for find food and excellent value for money.

Pubs, Bars & Entertainment

Leighlinbridge boasts a number of traditional pubs and bars each with their own unique character. All reserve a friendly welcome to visitors, where you can enjoy a quiet pint, sample a traditional music session, or relax over a tasty Irish Pub Lunch.

Gardening enthusiasts

Arboretum Garden Centre, Kilkenny Road, Leighlinbridge, Carlow.
Website: www.arboretum.ie

A state of the art garden centre with an extensive range of quality plants, trees, shrubs, hand crafted furniture, hot tubs and giftware. An Bord Glas winner since 1991. Designed for the Millennium and incorporating the changing needs of the public, the Arboretum offers a new concept in today's gardening world. Its stunning location close to the River Barrow coupled with direct access off the Carlow - Kilkenny (N9) road makes shopping at Arboretum a delightful experience. The Mulberry Restaurant offers fresh, local produce combined with an exclusive and unique range of satisfying flavours which ensure a relaxing and tasteful meal or snack.

The Millennium Garden, Ballynockan, Leighlinbridge.

The Millennium Garden is located at Ballynockan in the village of Leighlinbridge, Carlow's tidiest village and Ireland's village entry in Entente Florale in 2001. Built and designed by the people of Leighlinbridge to commerate the New Millennium, the Garden consists of seven small individual gardens, each with its own theme represented by trees, shrubs and stones to smbolise aspects of life from birth to death. An explanatory brochure highlights the gardens principle features - available from Carlow Rural Tourism on 059-97-30411 or the Tourist Information Office 059-97-31554.

Location: In Leighlinbridge, over the bridge take first left.
Open: Year round daylight hours.
Admission Charges: None.

Leighlinbridge is noted for the number of famous sons it has produced, including Captain Myles Keogh, the scientist John Tyndall, the former archbishop of Sydney Patrick Francis Moran and the Right Hon. Brian Mulroney, Prime Minister of Canada from 1984 - 1992 whose family hailed from Leighlinbridge.

Cardinal Patrick Francis Moran (1830 - 1911) - Born in Leighlinbridge on the 16th September, 1830, he was the only son of Patrick Moran and Alice Cullen. He left Ireland in 1842 to pursue his studies in Rome and his "Acta Publica" in universal theology was so masterful as to gain for him a doctorate by acclamation. In 1866 he took up the position of private secretary to his uncle, Cardinal Cullen, Archbishop of Dublin and was consecrated Bishop of Ossory in 1882. Two years later he went to Australia where he was appointed Archbishop of Sydney and in 1885 was appointed Australia's first Cardinal.

Responsible for an extensive building programme including schools, churches and hospitals, he died at Manly, Sydney on 16th August, 1911, where a statue in his memory was unveiled on the steps of the city's Cathedral.

John Tyndall (1820 - 1893) - Born in Main Street, Leighlinbridge, Tyndall was a remarkable self-made man of science. An engineer, scientist and mountaineer, he was acclaimed worldwide for his scientific work, setting up the first telephone in Europe and discovering why the sky is blue. A pioneer of glacial studies, he was one of the first people to climb the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps and was the first to ascend the Weisshorn in 1861. His achievement is commemorated by a monument erected by his widow in 1911 at Alp Lusgen in the Swiss Alps.

One of his most important inventions, the light pipe, has resulted in the development of fibreoptics which are playing an increasing role in telecommunications, electronics and medicine.

On leaving Ireland, he became Director of the Royal Institution of London. For many years he came to represent to ordinary Englishmen the typical or ideal professor of physics. His strong, picturesque mode of seizing and expressing things gave him an immense living influence both in speech and writing, and disseminated a popular knowledge of physical science such as had not previously existed. But besides being a true educator and perhaps the greatest popular teacher of natural philosophy in his generation, he was an earnest and original observer and explorer of nature. He died in 1893.

Captain Myles Keogh (1840 - 1876) - Born on 25th March, 1840 at Orchard, Leighlinbridge. Leaving his native land at the age of 20, he joined the Papal Army of Pius IX, who awarded him the Pro Petri Sede Medal. Following the outbreak of the American Civil War, he was successful in his application for a commission in the U.S. Army and served as a captain in the cavalry. He was second in command to General George Custer and his spectacular career concluded with his early death at the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876, when the cavalry suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of the Sioux.
On September 17th 1984 the Right Hon. Brian Molroney, whose ancestors came from Leighlinbridge was sworn in as Canada's 18th Prime Minister. A lawyer, Mulroney was a director of several companies including the Iron Ore Company of Canada, before entering politics. As leader of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada he set an election record in 1984 when his party won 211 seats - the largest number of seats ever won in a Canadian election. During his premiership he undertook an official state visit to Ireland which included a visit to Leighlinbridge. He was Prime Minister of Canada until 1992.