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County Carlow

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County Carlow

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The Liberty Tree in Carlow Town.
Map of Carlow Town

County Carlow [1] is in the south east of the Republic of Ireland. Settled for 6,000 years, the county retains evidence of its earliest inhabitants, yet rapidly adapts to meet the demands of modern life. Noted for its nature, culture, vibrant nightlife and modern amenities, County Carlow is a pleasant place to visit, where history and contemporary life sit side by side.


Map of County Carlow
  • Carlow - the county seat and home to 40% of the county's population. Built along the banks of the Barrow and Burrin rivers, Carlow is a town that advances with the times but never loses sight of its strong, significant historical roots. Carlow has been one of Ireland's fastest growing towns for some time, prompting the creation of many new developments and increased cultural and sporting investment.

Carlow town boasts some of the best architecture in the country - with its courthouse from the mid 1800s and its Cathedral which was completed in 1833. Other items of historical importance include Browneshill Dolmen, with the largest capstone in Europe, and the ruins of Carlow Castle. Modern attractions are also available, as Carlow town has several shopping centres which are all within easy reach of one another.

  • Bagenalstown (also known as Muine Bheag) - just off the N9, Bagenalstown is a pictureseque riverside town with 17th and 18th Century architecture, pleasant walkways and gardens under the shadow of Mount Leinster.
  • Borris - a small traditional village in the south, located in the Barrow Valley. Nestled under the Blackstairs mountains, Borris is an ideal spot to sample village life and enjoy the scenery of Mount Leinster.
  • Hacketstown - in east Carlow. Located beneath the Wicklow Mountains, Hacketstown is surrounded by woodland and farmland and has a varied array of walkways. The area has seen significant redevelopment in recent years, which, in part, earned it an award in the 2005 "Tidy Towns" competition.
  • Leighlinbridge - large village between Carlow and Bagenalstown, on the Barrow Track. Leighlinbridge has played a significant role in the history of County Carlow and is home to some of the most significant functioning historical architecture in the south-east. The village is a pleasant place to visit and is noted for its award-winning floral and historical beauty.
  • Rathvilly - located along the banks of the Slaney, Rathvilly is renowned for its attractive appearance, panoramic views nearby of Mount Leinster and the Wicklow Mountains and its quiet, peaceful setting.
  • Tullow - located in the northeast of the county, along the River Slaney. A area with strong historical links, most significantly its prehistoric ringfort and burial ground, it continues to see development with many new projects in the pipeline.



The Carlow area has been settled since c. 6,000 B.C.. The earliest settlers possessed the tools of their time, usually made of flint, traces of which have since been found and preserved. Carlow's early settlers built monuments around the county which still stand today, like the Browneshill Dolmen which lies 3km east of Carlow town.

The name Carlow comes from its Irish derivative, Ceatharlach, meaning either City of the Lake, or Four Lakes. Traditionally, it's understood that the Barrow / Burrin confluence in Carlow town took up a large area of land, forming a lake, or, as some believe, four lakes.

The first notable event to take place in County Carlow occured in 300 B.C., when Dinn Righ, a hill fort near Leighlinbridge, was destroyed by Labraidh Loinseach, an early Celtic settler. Christianity later came to Carlow, prompting the construction of the monastery in St. Mullins, which is believed to have been built in the 7th Century. Its ruins still exist today.

The county itself is understood to have been created during the reign of King John, which lasted from 1199 to 1216 AD. This period saw the construction of Carlow Castle, which was overseen by William de Marshall. Recent excavations suggest that the construction commenced in 1210 AD and finished ten years later. It originally consisted of a hollow square, with a round tower at each corner.

However, all that remain today are its ruins. In the early 1800s, Dr. Philip Parry Price Middleton spent £2,000 attempting the turn the building into a lunatic asylum. As part of the modifications to the building, an underground passageway was to be created using dynamite. On February 13th, 1814, the explosion took place with disastrous effects, with the blast bringing down the eastern wall, the east towers and the adjoining walls.

On of the earlier events of note to take place in the region occured in 1394. With Ireland under British rule, King Richard II's cousin, Roger Mortimer, was killed by the forces of Borris native Art McMurrough Kavanagh, King of Leinster. This took place in Kellistown, near Tullow, shortly after Richard II had departed the region with a 10,000-strong force, having signed a treaty with a view of ending attacks on Norman forces. The enraged monarch returned to defeat Kavanagh, but the venture ended in disaster and defeat for the King's forces. The kingdom was returned to the King of Leinster, and Carlow became a Gaelic dominion.

In 1798, a large scale uprising took place against British forces took place, led by a revolutionary group known as the United Irishmen. By the time the rebellion began, there were 11,000 members of the group in the county. On May 25th, 2,000 rebels descended on Carlow town, however the town's defenders had received word of the rebels plans in advance, and set out to give them some leeway so that they would advance quicker than expected and become disorganised. Tragically for the rebels, this worked to perfection.

With the United Irishmen now expecting an easy victory, they were under little order as they reached Tullow Street and Potato Market. Celebratory cheering, known as 'the roar of a thousand voices' provided the cue to those inside the buildings and on the rooftops to open fire. The result was a convincing and a complete victory for the defenders who are understood to have suffered no fatalities. The bodies of 640 United Irishmen were thrown together in a pit, locally known today as the Croppies Grave, which can be visited in Graiguecullen.

In 1820, natural philosopher John Tyndall was born in Leighlinbridge, whose experiments included elucidating the blue of the sky.

In 1844, Carlow's workhouse was built with a capacity of 800 people. It was to be put to use in the years that followed, to accomodate those suffering from the nationwide 'Great Famine'. In September 1845, during a period of high unemployment, the first signs of potato crop failure appeared in County Carlow. Within six months, few potatoes from that years crop remained, and the government established relief schemes to provide work. Most of the following years crop was diseased, and soup kitchens were set up across the county.

Despite the assistance Carlovians received and the fact that Carlow fared better than most counties, 11,000 died from fever, cholera and starvation. Others fled the country. In 1841, 86,000 people lived in County Carlow - almost twice the population today. Ten years later, the number of residents had decreased to 68,000.

Carlow was a grim place entering the 1900s. Unemployment was rife, and the population was generally quite poor. In 1926, much needed investment was provided, when Edward Duggan succeeded in bringing Ireland's first sugar beet factory to Carlow town. The factory operated for nearly 80 years, until its closure in 2005.

Recent Times

The underpass on Carlow's second inner relief road, with part of the Fairgreen Shopping Centre in the background.

Carlow town has undergone significant development over the past 10-15 years. New inner relief roads, housing estates, and shopping centres have dramatically changed the face of the town. In 1994, the first major shopping centre in Carlow opened, and this was followed in 2003 with the opening of the Fairgreen Shopping Centre. It's a short walk from one to the other, however when the latter establishment opened many people deserted the main shopping thoroughfare in the town, Tullow Street. While it seems that the number of shoppers on the street is growing, it's not quite as busy as it was in the 1990s.

The town is home to two third-level colleges - Carlow I.T., on the Kilkenny Road, and Carlow College (known locally as St. Patrick's College). The student population Carlow town is 3,000 strong, contributing to the growth in the number of student apartments, and the aforementioned nightlife.

Until 2005, the town was home to one of two factories in Ireland which produced sugar. Amid much controversy, the 80-year-old plant was closed, leaving only office staff with jobs. Since then, the land has been idle, however in November 2006, Greencore (the owners of the facility) announced plans to invest €1.1 billion, and turn the 333 acre site into a new commercial, residential, and community hub. It's set to create 2,000 jobs if completed, and will also feature a 35 acre riverside park, with a further 30 acres reserved for leisure and amenity purposes.

This project, known as Carlow Gateway, is in the mere planning stages, and is unlikely to be completed for several years if given the go ahead. However, it is a sign of the continuing development which has radically transformed the town in the past two decades, and is a welcome sign of confidence in an area which has seen more than its fair share of job losses in recent times.


Carlow is in "The Sunny South East" [2], which the regional tourism board refers to the area as. Carlow and Kilkenny are typically the warmest parts of the country. Despite the name, you're best advised to pack a raincoat. Ireland's unpredictable weather is a feature of life, and can change from day to day, or even hour to hour.

July daytime temperatures average 20C (68F). In January it drops to 7C (45F), although it can feel a lot cooler when the wind chill is taken into account.


Map of Ireland with County Carlow highlighted.

Since March 2004 almost all places of work, including bars, restaurants, cafés etc, in Ireland have been smoke-free (Office of Tobacco Contol website). Rooms in hotels and Bed & Breakfasts are not required by law to be smoke-free, but many, if not most, are. It's best to make enquires in advance, and specify that you require a smoking bedroom if you need one.

Local media


  • The Nationalist is Carlow's best selling regional newspaper, providing local news, sport and entertainment listings. New edition on sale each Wednesday.
  • The Carlow People provides local news and sport and also features entertainment listings. Out every Tuesday.


Carlow is served by one local radio station, which also serves Kilkenny. KCLR 96fm has news on the hour, with a Carlow opt-out at 6pm each evening providing local news for the county on 96.9fm. Its Carlow studio is located at Exchequer House, on Potato Market near the Liberty Tree in Carlow town.

Like the rest of Ireland, most of the radio stations available in Carlow are on the FM band, as listed below.

More Information

Carlow town's tourist office is located on College Street, which meets Tullow Street just across from the AIB Bank. It's beside the County Library, and will help visitors with accommodation, maps etc.

ATMs are widely available (when in working order!) in banks, shops and other establishments across the county. A Cirrus ATM is located at the Permanent TSB Bank on Upper Tullow Street in Carlow town.


English is the first language of most residents, however as Carlow becomes increasingly cosmopolitan, the variety of languages spoken in the county continues to increase. It is not necessary to know any Irish (Gaeilge) to communicate with locals, most of whom probably have a poor understanding of the language anyway, however it may impress if you possess a "cúpla focail", i.e. a couple of words. Although there are no Gaelteacht areas in Carlow, Irish is the first official language.

The county is now home to residents from many different countries, including most of the accession states to the EU. If you need to communicate in Polish or Lithuanian, for instance, you may be able to find someone who speaks these languages.

The majority of students are required to learn a foreign language as part of their studies, with French emerging as the clear favourite, mainly due to the attention which schools give to this language over others. Although fleunt French speakers are few and far between, many young people in particular would have a basic understanding of the language.

Get in

Carlow's central location means that it is quite accessible to visitors from overseas.

By plane

Carlow doesn't have a public airport, but can be easily reached from Dublin Airport, the largest in the country - see the Get in section of the Dublin article.

The most straightforward way to get to Carlow from Dublin Airport is to travel by JJ Kavanagh / Rapid Express Coaches. Eight buses leave the airport daily, serving Carlow along the way. Nine buses make the return journey every day. All JJ Kavanagh tickets are valid for one month from the date of purchase, and you shouldn't expect to pay more than €15 for a return ticket.

A single Bus Éireann trip from Dublin Airport costs €13.50. Note that these aren't direct services, so you'll have to change at Busarás (Dublin city's main bus depot on O'Connell Street).

Alternatively, direct bus services connect Dublin Airport with Heuston Station, Dublin's main train centre. See the By train section below for more information.

By boat

If you are travelling by car and you arrive at the sea port of Rosslare, Carlow town is about a 60 minute drive away, while eastern parts of the county are a good deal closer. Those who leave the car behind can get the train to Carlow, however you will have to change services, usually at either Waterford or Dublin. More information is available from the Irish Rail website.

If you arrive at Dublin Port, you can either get the train direct from Dublin Heuston to Carlow, or you can travel by bus. Bus Éireann services depart from Busáras or you can get the JJ Kavanagh service, which leaves from its bus stop on George's Quay. Check out their websites for more.

By Bus

  • JJ Kavanagh / Rapid Express Coaches. Carlow and Royal Oak (near Bagenalstown) are on the Waterford - Dublin route, which starts in Tramore, Co. Waterford and finishes at Dublin Airport. Along the way, it has 18 bus stops, meaning that Carlow town and Bagenalstown are easily accessible to those travelling from Counties Waterford, Kilkenny, Kildare or Dublin.
  • Bus Éireann follows a similar route, starting in Dungarvan, Co. Waterford and finishing at Busáras in Dublin's city centre. It also stops at Carlow and, on request, will stop at Royal Oak. It will also stop at Leighlinbridge, if requested in advance.

By Train

Carlow and Bagenalstown are served by the Dublin-Waterford rail line. Seven trains leave Heuston Station in Dublin on weekdays, the earliest being the 7:30am service, the latest is the 8:05pm service. Trains take one hour and 20 minutes to reach Carlow, and about ten minutes longer to reach Bagenalstown. Eight trains make the return journey to Dublin.

Six trains leave Waterford each weekday, however the last train from Plunkett Station in Waterford city is at 6:25pm. These take about an hour and a half to reach either Carlow or Bagenalstown, and six trains make the return journey to Waterford.

Naas, Newbridge, Kildare, Athy in County Kildare and Kilkenny and Thomastown in County Kilkenny are also served by this line, meaning Carlow and Bagenalstown are easily accessible from these towns.

The best source of information is the Irish Rail website [3], where full timetables are available. For other enquiries, the information line can be contacted on 1850 366222 within Ireland. Lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Get around

By bus

Until 2004, a regular "town link" bus service operated in Carlow town. Ongoing talks aim to have the facility restored, however there have been many setbacks. It's unclear if any progress has been made recently.

  • Ring a Link, Unit 2, Abbey Business Centre, Abbey Street, Kilkenny, 1890 42 41 41, (e-mail: [email protected]), [4]. A flexible, inexpensive option, which responds to bookings and enquiries from its Kilkenny base by telephone. Their scheduled services and times are available on their website but different times are sometimes available by contacting the company.
  • JJ Kavanagh's local bus service, Little Barrack Street, Carlow, +353 (0)59 9143081, (email, [email protected], fax: +353 (0)59 9142738), [5]. These infrequent buses travel to and from Portlaoise (County Laois), Kilkenny, Tullow, Rathvilly, Baltinglass and Hacketstown.

By taxi

Due to recent government legislation, taxi fares are the same in every part of Ireland. Therefore, the price of a taxi will usually depend on the length of the journey, whereas before, a journey within the town boundaries was at a standard fare of €5. However, some companies are exploiting a loophole in this legislation, and charge a standard fare of €6 within Carlow town's boundaries.

  • Bridge Cabs, Mount Leinster Park, Carlow town. +353 59 9142252
  • Carlow Cab Service, 4 Dublin Street, Carlow town. +353 59 9140000
  • Carlow Co-Op Cabs, 1 Haymarket, Carlow town. +353 59 9182222
  • Castle Cabs, Myshall. +353 59 9157743
  • Hall Johnny Taxi & Minbus Hire, St. Patrick's Avenue, Carlow. +353 59 9135350
  • Jim's Cabs, Idrone Park, Tullow Road, Carlow town. +353 59 9143444
  • Park Cabs, St. Mary's Park, Carlow town. +353 59 9140010
  • Peter Whelehan, Lismard House, Tullow Street, Carlow town. +353 59 9142020
  • Tipp's Cabs, Tolerton, Carlow town. +353 87 2440621

By train

  • Irish Rail, +353 (0)59 9131633. Carlow town and Bagenalstown are connected by rail. Six services depart from either station on weekdays, and the journey time is less than 15 minutes. Note that Bagenalstown is referred to as Muine Bheag, its Irish name, on all rail literature.

Passengers who use wheelchairs are catered for, however you will need to inform staff in advance of your journey.


Across the county, there are many fine buildings, backed up by splendid countryside and natural beauty. On a clear day, be sure to go up the Killeshin Hills, where you'll be treated to a spectacular view of Carlow town. It's equally impressive by night.

Carlow Cathedral

For a closer view, the town is navigable by foot. At the top of Dublin Street is Carlow's impressive Courthouse. The story goes that the building was initially intended for Cork when it was designed in 1830, but the plans got mixed up and Carlow benefited. Just off Dublin Street is Haymarket, which is home to the newly refurbished Town Hall.

St. Patrick's College [6] (or Carlow College, as it's known outside the county) has been in operation since 1793. It's on the aptly named College Street, beside Carlow Cathedral, which was refurbished in the late 1990s amid much controversy. Since then, RTÉ have twice decided to broadcast Easter services live from the church, which was relayed across the Eurovision network in 2003.

One of the newer landmarks is the Liberty Tree. The fountain was constructed in the late 1990s to commemorate the victims of the 1798 Rebellion. Along the banks of the Barrow are the ruins Carlow Castle, which was built in the early 1200s. However, almost three-quarters of the castle was demolished in 1814 after an ill-fated attempt to renovate the interior and turn the castle into a hospital.

Graiguecullen Bridge is a low five-arch structure which spans the width of the Barrow alongside the castle. A short distance away is the Croppies Grave, where the bodies of 640 United Irishmen who died in the 1798 Rebellion are buried. It's quite near the 12.8 acre Town Park, which is situated along the Barrow and also features a playground. In January 2007, the facility was named Ireland's Best Public Park at the inaugural Local Goverment, City and County Council Awards.

All of the above can be seen by following the Walking Tour of Carlow Town, as featured on the Carlow Tourism website

Ducketts Grove is a Georgian mansion just outside town which the local council is in the process of redeveloping with a view to allowing visitors access to the building. It can currently be seen from the adjacent roadside. Much of the building was destroyed by fire in 1930, but what remains is still quite impressive.

Browneshill Dolmen is 3km east of Carlow town. It's a portal tomb which is 5,000 years old. Its capstone is the largest in Europe, weighing over 100 tons. The Haroldstown Dolmen, which is regarded by some as one of the most attractive in Ireland, can be found along the Tullow to Hacketstown Road.


County Carlow has a wide and varied array of accomodation, conveniently spread across the region. All budgets and tastes are catered for, from country guesthouses and B&Bs to the luxurious hotels which are most easily found in Carlow and Tullow. Most of the accomodation options don't have many rooms, so it's best to book as early as possible, particularly around peak times such as New Year's Eve or Saint Patrick's Day, where rooms could be fully booked out many months in advance.


Mount Leinster, as seen from a distance of 15km.

Carlow has a pleasant blend of history, scenery and modern attractions. This website offers up-to-date listings of events taking place in Carlow, along with a growing directory of hotels, restaurants and other establishments.

KCLR 96fm's Community Diary airs daily at 11:45am, 2:45pm and 5:45pm. As a free-of-charge advertising service, it is good at outlining upcoming events and activities taking place across Carlow and Kilkenny.


  • Éigse Arts Festival The Éigse Arts Festival is one of the largest of its kind in Ireland, and takes place across Carlow town for 10 days each June. It offers a programme of events including theatre, dance, music, comedy and street entertainment, as well as traditional art exhibtions in locations around the town.
The festival opens each year with a light show and fireworks display, which is free of charge to the public. The 'Party in the Park' usually takes place on the following day. This is a family-orientated event, where musicians perform in the Carlow town park on the banks of the River Barrow.
Details of the 2006 festival can be found on their website.
  • Carlow African Film Festival [7]. Started in 2005, this festival takes place in September and aims to celebrate the artistic and cultural works of African film-makers while promoting social interaction and integration between the various communities in Carlow. Movies are shown free of charge in a "Mobile Cinema", a transportable unit which transforms into a 100-seater cinema.
  • Carlow Floral Festival [8]. Carlow's status as the "floral county" is recognised in this county-wide gardening, flora and nature extravaganza which takes place in August. The nine-day festival is attended by well-known broadcasters and includes demonstrations, nature trails, workshops, music and entertainment.
  • St. Patrick's Festival Across County Carlow, parades celebrate St. Patrick's Day on March 17th each year. In Carlow town, the parade is usually followed with live performances by local musicians and groups.


Currently, Carlow has no theatre, with the nearest facility being the Watergate Theatre in nearby Kilkenny. However, in June 2005, the proposed design for VISUAL - The National Centre for Contemporary Art and Performing Arts Theare for County Carlow was completed and presented to Carlow County Council.

When completed, it will showcase both locally staged and touring productions, as well as temporary art exhibitions of national and international standing. It will be located in the grounds of St. Patrick's College, beside Carlow Cathedral in the centre of Carlow town. It is expected to be open to the public in 2007. More information

In the meantime, several schools across the county produce musicals each year (usually around October) including St. Leo's and the Presentation College in Carlow town.


Carlow is not well known for its sporting success, particularly in the popular games of Gaelic Football and Hurling, where the county teams usually make an early exit in the championship each year. However, the county has had significant success in other sports, with many local competitors doing well at both national and international levels.

A concise directory of all of the sports clubs in County Carlow whose services can be availed of by locals and visitors alike is available from County Council website (Adobe Reader required). Note that some contact details have changed and new clubs have formed since this directory was produced.


Carlow is famed for its golf courses, and is within easy reach of facilities in neighbouring counties, like The K Club which hosted the 2006 Ryder Cup.

  • Carlow Golf Club [9]. Located at Deerpark to the northwest of Carlow town, Carlow Golf Club has hosted many prestigious tournaments since its inception in May 1899. The club features naturally draining courses, making them playable all year round. The 18-hole Deerpark Course is recognised as one of the finest inland courses in Ireland. The 9-hole Oak Park Course, which opened in 2002, is far less expensive, with green fees of €20 per person. Both courses are open during daylight hours, while the clubhouse is open from 10am - 11pm daily.
  • Killerig Golf Club [10]. Open from 8am each morning, the seven-year-old course is adjacent to the Ramada Hotel and Suites. Green fees start at €35, but special offers are often available. More information is available on its members website.
  • Mount Wolseley Golf [11]. The Christy O'Connor Jr. designed course is a par 72 and 7,206 yards long off the championship tees. Golf carts and clubs are available from the golf shop, which is open daily from 10am - 5pm. Private dining is available in the adjacent Mount Wolseley Hilton.
  • Leinster Hills Golf Club [12]. Opened in September 2005, this course is designed to maximise the vistas surrounding it. It is Ireland's first [Golf Cross course, and green fees start at €25. The course is situated about 10km from Carlow, Tullow and Bagenalstown, on a well-signposted location just off the N80, the road which connects Carlow town with County Wexford.
  • Borris Golf Club [13]. Parkland course with modern sand based greens and an automatic watering system. Practice area and putting green available. Open during daylight hours, with green fees of €25, or €16 when accompanied by a member. At weekends, visitors must be accompanied by a member. Refreshments available at the clubhouse.

All Year

  • Dome Entertainment Complex +353 59 9141555. Right beside the Talbot Hotel, 2km outside town. This facility, which opened in December 2004, offers 12 AMF Wooden Bowling lanes along with numerous arcade machines.
    File:Dome & Talbot Hotel.JPG
    The Dome Entertainment Complex with the Talbot Hotel in the background.
  • Ivy Rooms Snooker Club [14]. Open to the public until late every evening. With 16 full-sized tournament tables, American pool tables, amusements and a restaurant. Host to many championships and events from local to international, and has twice hosted the World Under-21 Snooker Championship. Admission to these tournaments is free of charge.
  • The Music Factory [15]. Regularly attracts well-known musical and comedic performers from home and abroad. Located in the town centre, with VIP packages also available.
  • The Tower Live [16] Live music venue, with entertainment every Saturday night
  • The Tavern +353 59 9140279. Live music venue in Carlow town.
  • Graiguecullen Swimming Pool +353 59 9140330. Fully heated 25 metre swimming pool in Carlow town. Full gymnasium and leisure centre on site.
  • Lisnavagh Gardens [17]. "1,000 acres of secluded beauty". Based in Rathvilly.
  • Country Quads [18]. Quad biking on all-terrain vehicles in Borris. Clay Pigeon shooting also available by prior arrangement for groups of eight or more.
  • Go With The Flow Canoeing +353 87 2529700. The River Barrow from a different perspective.
  • Hang Gliding + 353 1 4556437 Hang Gliding from the internationally renowned Mount Leinster spot. Available most Sundays from March to October. Call Eamon for details.
  • Carlow Cineplex [19]. 3 screen cinema
  • Kiddies Kingdom +353 59 9723532. Large indoor playground for children.


This is an incomplete section.

Tullow Street

Carlow's traditional shopping thoroughfare, "the heart of Carlow" has undergone extensive redevelopment over the past decade. Lower Tullow Street, the main shopping area, has been pedestrianised during business hours since 2002.

  • Hadden's Centre. It's anchor tenant is the locally-owned clothing retail outlet Hadden's. Among the other businesses inside the centre are the Country Kitchen Restaurant and Paddy Power bookmakers. It is also accessible through its large fee-paying car park on Kennedy Avenue.
    Christmas at the Fairgreen Shopping Centre.
  • Shaw's. Large department store which opened in Carlow in 1949. The building was demolished in 2005, making way for a brand new store which opened in August 2006 at a cost of €13 million. It's also accessible from Bridewell Lane, which is adjacent to the post office.

Shopping Centres

  • Fairgreen Shopping Centre [20]. With over 40 stores to choose from, "The Fairgreen" commenced trading in October 2003 at a cost of €50 million. It's anchor tenants are Tesco, Next and Heatons. It has well-known high street stores such as River Island, a|wear, Jack & Jones and GameStop, in addition to local businesses like Jason Farrell Sports, Bramley's "B2" Jewellers and Bosco's Butchers. All tenants are required to trade between 9am - 6pm Monday to Wednesday, 9am - 9pm on Thursdays and Fridays, 9am - 6pm on Saturdays and 12 noon to 6pm on Sundays. However, Tesco is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 500 people are employed at the complex, which is built on the site of Carlow's former cattle mart. In order to maintain the link with the history of the area, the centre purchased one of the cows from the Dublin Cow Parade and commissioned a local artist to paint "The Fairgreen Cow".
Carlow Shopping Centre.
  • Carlow Shopping Centre. Carlow's original major shopping centre opened in April 1994, and offers multi-storey car parking. It's anchor tenant is the indigenous grocery retailer Superquinn, while other tenants include Golden Discs, Café le Monde, Chartbusters and Sam McCauleys. Carlow's only cinema is located at the centre, which is accessible from Upper Tullow Street and Kennedy Avenue. The Nationalist newspaper is currently based upstairs at the centre, as their new offices are under construction near Carlow Retail Park.

Retail Parks

  • Carlow Retail Park. A short walk from the Fairgreen Shopping Centre, it's tenants are Woodies DIY, Harry Corry Interiors, Halfords, ElectroCity, Byrne's World of Wonder and KFC. Vast amount of free car parking available.
  • Shamrock Retail Park. Located in Graiguecullen. Includes Doyle's of the Shamrock, Ken Black's Toys and Cash & Carry Kitchens.


There are many award-winning restuarants and pubs in County Carlow. The Lord Bagenal Inn in Leighlinbridge is renowned for its pleasant riverside setting and fine food. In Carlow town, there are many restaurants in the town centre and beyond, with new establishments appearing quite regularly. All tastes are catered for, from oriental food to traditional meals and local specialities.

Traditionally, tipping was never considered to be a necessity. Although it has recently become common to tip up to 10% of the bill total, the practice usually remains optional. Some establishments will add a 10-15% service charge on top of the obligatory 13.5% Government VAT charge, especially for larger groups.


County Carlow's pubs constantly get good reviews, with the area being home to some of the best outlets in the country. In Carlow Town, the Dinn Rí superpub has won the prestigious Black & White Pub of the Year accolade on three occasions in the past decade, with the Lord Bagenal in Leighlinbridge scooping the award five times since 1983. The traditional practice of brewing beer locally was revived when the Carlow Brewing Company established itself in Carlow town nine years ago. It makes three award-winning beers: O'Hara's, Curim and Molings, all of which are available at most pubs around the county.


Carlow is widely recognised for its active nightlife. Tullow Street and Dublin Street are usually thronged with people on Friday and Saturday nights. The Foundry nightclub is a popular venue, with many people travelling to Carlow especially to sample its offering.


Carlow town offers the greatest range of Internet Cafés in the county, some of whom are open until late in the evening. There is also an expanding list of Wireless Hotspots. Free internet access is available by booking in advance at libraries throughout the county, however there is usually competition for places as these are an attractive option.

Stay Safe


The nearest public General Hospital to Carlow is St. Luke's Hospital in Kilkenny. Carlow has a district hospital, called St. Dympna's located on the Athy Road. It offers psychiatric care, among other services. It has a Caredoc centre on site, which offers G.P. services for those with urgent medical problems who need to contact a doctor after surgeries close. Cars will transport the doctors on duty to house calls when patients are unable to attend treatment centres. It's Carlow service was the first of its kind in Ireland, and opened in June 1999.

Medical contacts

  • Caredoc, St. Dympna's Hospital, Athy Road, Carlow, 1850 334 999. Weekdays 6pm-8am, Weekends Saturday 9am - Monday 8am.
  • Dr. John Conway, G.P., Burrin Street, Carlow, +353 (0)59 9143247.
  • Dr. Helen Delaney, Dr. Sandra Kehoe & Dr. Christopher G. Moran, G.P.'s, 65 Tullow Street, Carlow, +353 (0)59 9130770.
  • Dr. Brendan M. Doyle, G.P., Avoca House, Barrack Street, Carlow, +353 (0)59 9131127.
  • Dr. Jonathan Jacob, G.P., Castle Hill, Carlow, +353 (0)59 9130357.
  • Dr. Sean McGuire, G.P., Clayton Hall Medical Centre, Staplestown Road, Carlow, +353 (0)59 9133330.
  • Dr. Carole McInerney & Dr. Fionnuala Ní Ghráinne, G.P.'s, 72 Tullow Street, Carlow, +353 (0)59 9132450.
  • Dr. Patricia O'Toole, G.P., 23 Staplestown Road, Carlow +353 (0)59 9132525.
  • Dr. Declan Gerard Woods, G.P., Cathedral Walk, College Street, Carlow, +353 (0)59 9130828.
  • Dr. Eithne Marie Bolger, G.P., Crosslow, Tullow, +353 (0)59 9151555.
  • Dr. Michael Aidan Kehoe, G.P., Tullow Medical Centre, Tullow, +353 (0)59 9151101.
  • Dr. John Murray, G.P., Tullowhill, Tullow, +353 (0)59 9151492.
  • Dr. Brendan Thomas Coffey, G.P., Royal Oak Road, Bagenalstown, +353 (0)59 9721650.
  • Dr. Thomas Foley, G.P., Royal Oak Road, Bagenalstown, +353 (0)59 9721502.
  • Dr. John Charles Gavin, G.P., Brambletye, Blackberry Lane, Bagenalstown, +353 (0)59 9121067.


Carlow is relatively safe, especially compared to bigger cities like Dublin or Limerick. As a general rule, only basic precautions and common sense are needed - if you leave your wallet behind you at a restaurant, it's more likely to be handed in than stolen. But that doesn't mean you should try it out. Most locals go about their daily business without ever facing significant trouble, therefore it may help if you "act" local.

However, the risk does increases during night-time, and like anywhere, caution is always advised. Weekend incidents are usually limited to a handful, and generally these aren't too serious. But nonetheless they're a most unpleasant experience so be sure to be cautious if you're out and about at night. Drink 'spiking' does occur, so many people choose to drink from a bottle, rather than a glass, but it's best not to leave either unattended. If you'd like to sample the nighttime atmosphere, then stay around well-lit areas where there are lots of people, try to stay in groups of at least three or four, avoid confrontation and act sensibly.

Most housing estates have a pleasant vibe, however some are known for unsavoury behaviour, so try to avoid journeys into these unless necessary. Minor incidents of anti-social behaviour (e.g. playing with shopping trolleys) occur from time to time - if you notice it, the safest (and easiest) thing to do is to ignore it and carry on with whatever you're doing.

Police contacts

In Ireland, the police force is known as An Garda Síochána. A police officer is known as a 'Garda', or in its plural form, Gardaí (pronounced Garr-dee). The emergency services can be contacted free of charge on 999, or, like the rest of Europe, on 112.

  • Carlow Garda Station +353 (0)59 9136620. Carlow Garda Station is located on the Athy Road, near the County Council offices.
  • Bagenalstown Garda Station +353 (0)59 9721212.
  • Ballon Garda Station +353 (0)59 9159122.
  • Borris Garda Station +353 (0)59 9773102.
  • Hacketstown Garda Station +353 (0)59 6471202.
  • Leighlinbridge Garda Station +353 (0)59 9721122.
  • Myshall Garda Station +353 (0)59 9157622.
  • Rathvilly Garda Station +353 (0)59 9161122.
  • Tullow Garda Station +353 (0)59 9151222.

Get out

Crowds making their way through Grafton Street in Dublin.

Because of Carlow's aforementioned central location, it's relatively easy to travel elsewhere. This makes Carlow attractive to visitors who are looking to explore the east coast of Ireland.

  • Dublin - Ireland's flourishing capital city is a great place to shop, or to while away time in one of the many museums on offer. It's 80km away, and shouldn't take longer than two hours to reach by car or bus. Direct train services link Carlow with Dublin, and take about 70 minutes.
  • Kilkenny - "The Medieval City" is rich in culture and heritage, and offers many monuments and other items of historical importance. A popular city with Carlovians, and well worth a visit. Less than 45 minutes away by car, train or bus.
  • Waterford - the capital of The Sunny South East, and home of Waterford Crystal. About 80 minutes from Carlow town by car, train or bus.

Taxis will usually have no problem carrying you anywhere else you'd like to go in the country, but expect to pay up to €200 if you're looking to go to Belfast, for instance.