A small town that's easily navigable by foot, it offers an attractive blend of scenery, history and modern attractions. Carlow is a pleasant country town with all the modern amenities both residents and visitors require. It's not a touristy town per se, but has some hidden gems. These include the Courthouse, Cathedral of the Assumption, and a quaint Railway Station. There are interesting pockets of Georgian architecture on Burrin St, and Montgomery St.
What to see
Carlow Courthouse - is generally regarded as one of the finest buildings of its kind in the country. Its Greek revivalist design, with eight Ilyssus style columns, was drawn up in 1830. Traditionally, it's believed that the courthouse was actually intended for Cork, but the plans got mixed up to the benefit of Carlow. It was completed at a cost of £30,000 - a significant amount of money at the time. A Russian cannon sits in front of the building which was captured during the Crimean war in the late 1800s and then donated to Carlow. The building itself was restored in the 1990s, and the refurbished courthouse was officially opened in March 2002. Throughout the decades, the steps of the Courthouse have been used as a focal point for public occasions. An early example was in 1929, when the 100th anniversary for the granting of Catholic Emancipation was celebrated. Ireland hosted the Special Olympics in 2003, and in June that year, the Olympic Flame stopped at the Courthouse where live music and entertainment marked the occasion, before the town bid farewell to local athletes as well as guests from Bolivia, Slovenia, and Ohio, USA. The building is located at the top of Dublin Street.
Presentation Convent - this convent was home to the Presentation Nuns who lived here and ran a school, teaching generations of Carlow girls. It is now home to the Carlow County Museum and Carlow County Library. The nuns chapel was impressive - its gold-leaf ceiling and stained glass windows, among other original features, have been restored.
Browneshill Dolmen - is a portal tomb dating from c. 3,000 BC. Its capstone is said to be the largest in Europe weighing over 100 tons. These were communal burial monuments for cremated remains - adults and children, males and females from a community were buried here in these tombs. One of Carlow's best-known landmarks, it is located 3km east of Carlow on the Hacketstown Road.
Carlow Town Hall - was designed in 1884. It is the new home of Carlow Town Council, following extensive refurbishment which was completed in 2006. It is located at Haymarket, which is just off Dublin Street. A theatre was formerly at the rear of the building, and later the County Museum was here - now moved to professional premises at College St.
St. Patrick's College - College Street - is one of the oldest educational institutions in the country. It was founded in 1782 and has been open to students since 1793, with around 700 students studying there at the moment. Outside of Carlow, the college is known by its formal name, Carlow College. In December 2006, the college opened a brand new on-campus library in the old college chapel. College records dating back to the 1700s are available.
Carlow Cathedral - is also located on College Street, right beside St. Patrick's College. It was completed in 1833, although its history dates back to the 1780s. At that time, a small chapel existed on the site, however as the decades passed, it emerged that a bigger facility would be needed. After many fundraisers, plans were put in place for the current building in June 1829 by architect Thomas Cobden. In 1833, at a cost of £9,000, the gothic-designed Cathedral was completed. Its interior has been renovated several times over the years - the most recent refurbishment took place in 1997, which proved controversial at the time and even attracted the attention of Pope John Paul II. However, the designs have been generally welcomed since then, with state broadcaster RTÉ twice airing the Easter services live from the Cathedral. These were relayed across the Eurovision network in 2003.
The Liberty Tree - commemorates the 640 victims of the United Irishmen, who died on May 25th, 1798. During a planned rising against British defenders, 2,000 rebels invaded the town, however the plot was secretly leaked in advance, meaning the plan was destined for failure. The landmark itself was built in the late 1990s ahead of the 200th anniversary of the rising. It is a fountain, which was designed by John Behan and provides a central focal point in the town, around which many people socialise and take a break during the summer months.
The Croppies Grave - was initially a sand pit, where the bodies of the slaughtered United Irishmen were quickly buried. Later, a monument was erected above the site on Chapel Street, west of the River Barrow. The United Irishmen were known as the Croppies due to their habit of cropping their hair, which they did to mark their allegiance.
Carlow Castle - is located along the banks of the River Barrow. It's construction started in 1210, overseen by William de Marshall. Unfortunately, all that remains today are the ruins of the castle, due to an ill-fated and expensive attempt by Dr. Philip Parry Prince Midleton to turn the building into a lunatic asylum. In 1814, a planned explosion tried to create an underground passageway, however this also brought down nearly three of the four walls.
Graiguecullen Bridge - is one of the oldest and lowest bridges on the River Barrow, and is located just beside the ruins of Carlow Castle. A five arched stone structure, the bridge was built in 1569, before renovations took place to widen the bridge in 1815.
Duckett's Grove - is a Georgian home formerly located within the 5,000 acre estate which belonged to the Anglo-Irish family of William Duckett. He built the mansion in a Gothic revival style in 1830, and its last occupant departed the house in 1912. In 1930, the estate was divided up, however in April 1933, much of the building was destroyed by a fire, the cause of which is unknown. Fortunately, much of the building still remains in its original form, and in 2007 the County Council finished its refurbishment and opened the grounds surrounding the home to the public.