County Carlow

On Ireland tours you might come across this county.

County Carlow is Irelands second smallest county.

It is located inland in the southeast within the province of Leinster.

The county covers an area of 346 square miles and has a popu;ation of over 45,000.  Surrounded by mountains and hills, Carlow is mainly undulating farmland.  The Blackstairs Mountains form the border with Wexford; the highest peak is Mount Leinster (2,610 ft).  The rivers Barrow and Slaney run through the county.  The county capital is Carlow, on the Barrow, in the northwest of the county.  Tullow, in the north on the Slaney, is a well-known angling town.

Carlow town developed around a Norman motte-and-bailey fort, built in 1180.  The fort was succeeded by Carlow Castle, but little remains of this.  The ruins of many other medieval castles can be seen in the county.  In the fourteenth century, the county was of strategic and military importance, being located on the border of the Pale, and was the scene of much fighting between Irish chieftains and English armies.  In the Rebellion of 1798, hundreds of rebels were killed in Carlow, and a rebel leader from neighboring County Wexford, Father John Murphy, was captured and hanged in Tullow.

One of the first colleges for the training of Catholic priests, St. Patrick's College, was opened in Carlow town in 1793.  The town also has a Catholic cathedral, built in 1833.  Carlow, along with Mallow, in County Cork, is one of the two centres of Ireland's sugar industry.  The country's first sugar beet factory opened in Carlow in 1926 and itstill employs hundreds of workers.  Today Carlow is a busy market and industrial town.  Besides sugar, dairy farming and crop production are the county's main economy.  Carlow's most interesting archaeological monument is the five-thousand-year-old Browne's Hill Dolmen, a granite structure with a hundred ton capstone, two miles east of Carlow town.  The remains of a seventh-century monastic settlement and a medieval abbey can be seen at St. Mullins, on the east bank of the Barrow.