Historical Attractions Carlow

Carlow Castle

Now stands on the eastern bank of the River Barrow. It is thought to have been built by William de Marshall, Earl of Pembroke and Lord of Leinster between 1207 and 1213 and is similar in design to Ferns Castle in Co Wexford. Today, two battered towers and part of an intervening wall are all that remain after a local physician tried to remodel it as an asylum in 1814. In an effert to demolish the interior he placed explosive charges at its base and demolished all but the west wall and towers.

Ballymoon Castle, Bagenalstown.

Just 3.5 km east of Bagenalstown this ruined castle dates to the 14th century. The castle – as striking as it is unusual – comprises a courtyard about 80 feet square, delimited by granite walls, 8 feet thick and 20 feet high. Square towers project from three sides while a formidable gatehouse is the feature of the fourth. Access direct from the road via small timber footbridge.Ballyloughan Castle, Bagenalstown.A twin-towered gatehouse, the hall and foundations of one of the corner towers of a large castle circa 1300 occupied in late medieval times by the Kavanaghs. Access direct, on private land.

Duckett’s Grove, near Carlow Town.

Originally the Georgian home of the Duckett family, from the middle of the 17th century until 1915. Although burnt in 1933 the remaining towers and turrets, mostly ivy clad, give this enchanting structure a fairy tale air.Huntington Castle and Gardens Clonegal, Co. Carlow.Formerly an 0′ Kavanagh stronghold the castle was destroyed in the early 17th century and rebuilt in 1625 by the Esmondes with further additions in later years. The present castellated house is the result of additions and alterations of many periods it’s nucleus being the tower house. Guided tours feature visits to the Gardens and the Temple of Isis, conducted by Miss Olivia Robertson, the well known artist and writer.

Field Monuments

Browneshill Dolmen, near Carlow Town.

One very unmistakable monument dating back to pre-historical times is the great dolmen at Browneshill to the east of Carlow town. The magnificent capstone has excited the interest of many antiquarians and tourists down through the years. The dolmen has a granite capstone weighing about 100 tonnes and is the largest of its kind in Europe. It is thought that religious rites, possibly even human sacrifice, were performed there for four and a half thousand years (2500 B.C.) and is testament to the fact that even our ancestors in the mists of pre-history regarded the area as somewhere special. Signposted, direct access – 3km from Carlow town on the Hacketstown road.


Situated on the approach to Clonmore village is the triple bullaun stone, a large natural stone in situ with three hollows scooped out. It was used for pounding ingredients in pre-historic times as a mortar and pestle might be used today. Nearby is an ancient holy well now much altered.

Haroldstown Dolmen, Tullow, Co, Carlow.

A well preserved example of a portal dolmen consisting of two slightly tilted capstones supported by ten vertical stones, two of which acted as the “Door” to the tomb. Near Tullow off the R727 – access direct, on private land.

Rathgall Stone Fort, Tullow.

An extensive hillside fortification with 8th century outer walls and later medieval inner walls. Evidence from excavations carried out at Rathgall suggests that hill forts were constructed from the late Bronze Age into the Iron Age and continued to be used into post medieval times. On excavation in 1969 Rathgall turned out to be the first Later Bronze Age Workshop located in Ireland and more than 400 clay moulds were found there. Situated 5km from Tullow on the Shillelagh road – access direct.