Carlow Tourist Information Office Tullow Street Carlow Carlow Republic of Ireland
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At times, visiting Leighlinbridge feels like visiting another century. A ruined castle, 14th-century stone-arched bridge, winding streets and old malt houses all nestle next to the River Barrow, giving the impression as much of a time capsule as a modern-day Carlow town.
Leighlinbridge is a popular spot for tourists who enjoy boating, fishing and walking alongside the Barrow, but its heritage trail is a humdinger too. It begins at St. Laserian’s Church, dating from 1793 (though boasting a round bell tower that appears to be much older).
The trail proceeds past the town’s sculpture garden, where famous sons John Tyndall (the 19th-century physicist who explained why the sky appears blue), Captain Myles Keogh (who died alongside Custer at the Battle of Little Bighorn) and Patrick Francis Moran (Australia’s first cardinal) are remembered, before pausing at the nine-arched stone bridge.
Leighlin Bridge is one of the oldest surviving bridges in Ireland. Built in 1320 by Maurice Jakis (and widened in 1789), today it marks one of the sweetest sights on the 70-mile Barrow Way. In 1932, Walt Disney stood on this bridge while searching locally for his ancestors.
Leighlinbridge’s Anglo-Norman Black Castle was originally linked with Hugh De Lacy, governor of Ireland under Henry II, though the current castle was built by Edward Bellingham in 1547. The first castle was built in 1181 to defend the river crossing and the town grew outwards around it.
It may be a small town, but there’s a big community spirit in Leighlinbridge – as evidenced by several gardens designed by local residents over the years. The Millennium Garden depicts the journey of life, the Vivaldi Garden is based on ‘The Four Seasons’ and the Garden of Remembrance commemorates historical events (amongst the features here, you’ll find Ireland’s first all-county World War I Memorial).