THE RIVER BARROW
~ Ireland's Second Longest River ~
Carlow (Irish: Ceatharlach, meaning "four lakes") is the county town of County Carlow in Ireland. It is situated in the south-east of Ireland, 84 km from Dublin. The population of the town and its environs is 18,204 according to the 2006 census. The River Barrow flows through the town, and forms the historic boundary between counties Laois and Carlow. The settlement of Carlow is thousands of years old and pre-dates written Irish history.
The Carlow area has been settled for thousands of years, evidence of human occupation extends back thousands of years, the most notable and dramatic prehistoric site being the Browneshill Dolmen just outside of Carlow town.
Carlow Castle was constructed by William Marshal, Earl of Striguil and Lord of Leinster, c1207-13, to guard the vital river crossing. It was also to serve as the capital of Ireland, or more precisely the Lordship of Ireland under King Richard II from 1361 until 1374. This imposing structure survived largely intact until 1814 when it was mostly destroyed in an attempt to turn the building into a lunatic asylum. The present remains now are the West Wall with two of its cylindrical towers.
The bridge over the river Barrow - Graiguecullen Bridge, is agreed to date to 1569. The original structure was largely replaced and widened in 1815 when it was named Wellington Bridge in celebration of the defeat of Napoleon's army by the Duke of Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo in June of that year. The bridge was built across a small island in the river and a 19th century house was constructed on the bridge - this was for a time occupied by the Poor Clares, an enclosed religious order who still have a convent in Graiguecullen.
Today Carlow town is known as a bustling centre with great shopping, fine restaurants and accommodation. Many festivals are held in Carlow throughout the year, including the Carlow Arts Festival. There is also a long tradition in river sports and boating activity, with Carlow Regatta, one of the oldest rowing festivals in the country, which takes place in May each year.
Carlow town - a vibrant, bustling urban hub.
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