This place is heaven for walkers and for lovers of cruising Ireland’s inland waterways.
It’s a quiet unspoiled region of Ireland that doesn’t shout its attractions but is loved all the more for that.
The pace here is very easy, with quiet riverbanks and people who are happy to stop and talk awhile. It is about as far away from tour buses and crowds of tourists as it is possible to get.
Walkers can follow the Barrow Way, a 70 mile way marked walk from Lowtown to St Mullins, in its entirety or just dip in and out.
Graiguenamanagh sunset by Turkinator
The walk meanders along the river bank, with the backdrop of the Wicklow Mountains gradually giving way to the gentle hills of Kildare and Carlow.
There are pretty towns and quiet villages to be explored at regular intervals, old bridges to cross and historical ruins, abbeys and castle remains aplenty.
If you only have time to walk some of the route, the 10 mile stretch from Carlow to Bagenalstown and the 4 mile walk from Graiguenamanagh to St Mullins are the ones to choose. Local accommodation providers, accustomed to walkers, are generally happy to help with transport and luggage so that you do not need to retrace your steps.
In the Area
For those who prefer to travel by water, Barrowline Cruisers rent well equipped holiday barges.
There is something magical about cruising the Barrow this way, moving along uncrowded waters watched by otters and kingfishers, with stunning scenery in the background and just enough to do at the locks to work up an appetite for dinner in the many riverside pubs and restaurants.
It really is the de-stress treatment to beat all others!
There are lots of activities available, from fishing and horse riding to golf and quad biking, but the main attraction is the extraordinary peace and tranquility which pervades the area.
This small village is the location of one of the important archaeological sites in Ireland, the remains of a monastic site built by St. Moling in the 7th century. As well as the churches, tower and dwellings where the monks one lived, is a mile long water course, dug by hand, which was created to power the monastery’s mill.
There is a Norman motte and bailey nearby, on which a wooden castle once stood, and one of the most fascinating graveyards in Ireland to explore.
Generally there are few visitors around at St Mullins, you may very well be alone, but if you are there on the Sunday before July 25th you’ll find yourself in a crowd. On that day local people, and many from further aflield, come to the holy well at the site, St. Moling’s Well, in the hope of finding cures for sickness and disease.
A small visitor centre has lots of information on places to see in the area.
The stretch of the Barrow at St Mullins is a good place for birdwatching. You’ll almost certainly see Kingfishers, several species of Duck and many smaller birds also.
The map below is centred on Graiguenamanagh, which it is on the Carlow/Kilkenny border – most of the Barrow Valley is within Carlow, though closer to Kilkenny City than Carlow town.