ByRoute 5.1 Co. Kildare // Co. Tipperary

Aghade (Co. Carlow / East)

Aghade / Aghade Bridge, a popular beauty spot on the River Slaney, was once an important ford.

Saint Patrick’s nephew, Saint Iserninus, resided in and was buried at Aghade in the C5th.

Dermot MacMorough, King of Leinster, founded a convent for nuns of the Order of St. Augustine in 1151 as a sub-abbey of the nunnery of St Mary de Hoggis in Dublin.

All Saints church (CoI), imposingly situated overlooking the river, is a very handsome C18th edifice with a splendid clock tower and spire, set in lovely walled grounds. The attractive interior features and an exceptionally ornate apse and fine stained glass windows. In addition to its use as a place of worhip, it is also an occasional venue for concerts and recitals.

The Aghade Holed Stone (’Clochaphoill‘), situaded just within the churchyard, is a large flat stone, originally upright but now leaning, with a hole at one end, through which sickly infants used to be passed to restore them to health. It may have been a so-called ‘port-hole’ stone to close the chamber of a megalithic tomb. However, the traditional explanation – as usual, much more romantic and appealing – is that it was a stone used by Niall of the Nine Hostages to tie up Eochaidh, son of Enna. Eochaidh broke the chain and killed the nine men Niall had sent to kill him. Encouraged by this feat, the Leinstermen rallied, attacked Niall’s army, defeated it and pursued northwards, slaughtering the retreating troops all the way. Human skeletons and mangled pieces of very ancient swords and other military equipment have been dug up locally, and there can be no doubt that a bloody conflict took place here at a remote period.

Aghade is .

Ardattin (Co. Carlow / East)

Ardattin (”Hill of the Furze”) (pop. 300) is a picturesque village is within walking distance of the River Slaney adjacent to the south Wicklow Mountains.

Ardattin Vintage Rally 2012

Ardattin is situated in an area nowadays known for its prime agricultural land, formerly wild rugged country on the northeastern edge of the ancient Leveroch Forest, where Dermot MacMorrough made his last stand against Tiernan O‘Rourke of Breifne before going to seek the help of England’s King Henry II in 1166.

The Cottage Collection is an eccentric array of artefacts, including vintage radios from the early C20th, wind-up gramophones, sewing machines, toys etc., housed in a picturesque cottage where an excellent guided tour by owners Frankie & Jimmy Quinlan is guaranteed.

Ballin Temple


Ballin Temple, believed to have been granted by William Marshal to the Knights Templar as a sanctuary, has since the C 17th been the seat of the Butlers of Ballintemple, a junior branch of the Ducal House of Ormonde.


Pierce Butler (1744-1822), 3rd son of Sir Richard Butler, 5th Bart, bought a commission as a British Army officer, but soon after arriving in North America married a rich plantation heiress and betrayed his oath by joining the other side in the American Revolution. He was one of South Carolina’s delegates at the Continental Congress and the 1787 Constitutional Convention (where as a signatory of the American Declaration of Independence he became one of the United States’ “Founding Fathers”) and both then and later as a US Senator introduced various underhand measures to benefit slave owners. At the time of his death he held more than 1,000 enslaved African Americans on his properties, notably a rice plantation at Butler Island and a cotton plantation at St Simons Island (the Sea Islands of Georgia). An utterly despicable opportunist, he should be recalled in Ireland only with shame, and his promotion by Carlow County Council’s tourisn department as a reason to visit the area is either wilfully ignorant or a national disgrace.


Although the house was destroyed by arsonists in 1917, the family still occupies a farmhouse lodge and provides Guesthouse accommodation and dining facilities. Self-catering cottages are available for rent.


Anglers pay for privileged access to a private salmon beat on the River Slaney, and yoga courses are run on the premises.


Most of the former Estate is now occupied by Coillte’s main tree nursery and National Tree, Shrub and Seed Centre, with a circuit walk offering fine views of Mount Leinster and the surrounding countryside.

Moylisha townland is the location of an ancient portal tomb locally known as Labbansighe (“Bed of the fairies”), believed to date from c. 1100 BC.

 Clonegal (Co. Carlow / East)

Clonegal (Cluain na nGall – “the Meadow of the Foreigner / Stranger”), (pop. 300), technically in County Carlow, straddles the meeting place of the River Slaney and the River Derry where the counties of Carlow, Wicklow and Wexford meet. The village’s idyllic setting against a backdrop of tree-clad hills has made this a favourite stopping place over the years.

Some local claim that the Irish toponym refers to foreign students who came to study in an ancient monastery in the area, while others contend it originated from the end of the Wars of the Three Kingdoms whenwhen Cromwell’s soldiers massacred every native male in the village.

Huntington Castle & Gardens


Huntington Castle was built in 1625 by the 1st Lord Esmonde to replace a C15th stronghold which had been granted by Queen Elizabeth I to the Netterville family, and also stands on the site of an ancient monastery.


Home to the Durdin-Robertson family for over 200 years, the Jacobean pile has a romantic and unusual history. Its reputation as one of the most haunted castles in Ireland is no doubt assisted by crazily angled windows, the result of subsidence after a disastrous 1860 basement extension. The interior features handsome rooms with interesting décor, including a bowl looted from Peking’s Imperial Palace.


The castle is currently the headquarters of the Fellowship of Isis, an international hermetic theology association founded on the Vernal Equinox of 1976 with her brother Lawrence (d.1994) by Archpriestess Lady Olivia Durdin-Robertson (1917-2013 – see Obituary). Dedicated to the Feminine Principle, the Fellowship has thousands of members who visit the castle regularly from all over the world.


The beautiful formal Gardens and magnificent grounds, frequently used for wedding parties, have appeared in several films, notably Stanley Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon (1975), and in August 2008 were the venue for the first Solas Festival, a fashionable rock concert weekend. The Ulrich Ruckriem Sculpture Shed is on the estate.

The two Weavers’ Cottages facing onto the village main street built by Alexander Durdin in the late C18th have been restored and refurbished with weaving looms and spinning wheels plus other artefacts,  furniture, pictures and photographs from bygone times, and are  occasionally used for spinning, weaving and bread and butter-making demonstrations.

The Watch / Watch-House (often  confusingly abbreviated on maps to Watch Ho), although on the other side of the River Derry and thus technically in County Wexford, is effectively part of Clonegal. There are small hamlets with the same name or something similar (”the Pike” is common) in several other parts of Ireland, often dating from the time of the 1798 Rebellion, when yeomen allowed passage traffic only on production of  documents from recognised authorities.

The Hanging Arch, marked by a stone slab on the wall, was the entrance to a yard where prisoners were hanged during the 1798 Rebellion, conveniently adjacent to the home of John DeRenzy, commander of the yeomen in Clonegal.

St Fiaac’s church (CoI) was built in the Gothic style under the supervision of architect John Bowden in 1819. Surrounded by  a churchyard containing graves dating as far back as 1777, it is situated on on a slope to the north of the village overlooking the picturesque valley of the Derry River. The site is said to have been the residence of a local chieftain in the 6th AD.

St Fiaac’s parishioners decided at a meeting in July 1821 to subscribe to the building of a new Roman Catholic church in Clonegal.

St Brigid’s church (RC), a big barn-type structure, was constructed in 1824 around the previous thatched chapel then in use, which was eventually taken out through the doors of the new church. (The old chapel had in turn replaced another thatched edifice which had been situated about a mile up the road in Knockafaugh).

St. Bridget’s Community Hall becomes the House of Song & Story on the third Monday of every month

Osbornes, the southernmost pub on the Wicklow Way cross-country walking route, is itself steeped in folklore and history.

The district contains many relics of times past and abundant wildlife, with good fishing and shooting facilities.

Clonegal & The Watch is just north of Bunclody on ByRoute 4.

Kildavin (Cill Damháin) is a small village with a bridge spanning the River Slaney.

Kildavin is one of the best places in Ireland to see the rare Goosander duck: flocks of up to 14 have been seen on the river here.

St Paul’s church (CoI) was built in 1812 in the Georgian style, with fine external stonework.

St Lazerian’s church (RC) in the village dates from 1830. There is a historical burial ground nearby.

Kildavin is at the northeastern end of is the  100km South Leinster Way long-distance walking trail.

Kildavin is on the N80 linking Bunclody on ByRoute 4 to Ballon on ByRoute 6.

Cranevane Well in the townland of Ballinvally comprises two  covered Holy Wells in scenic setting with an interesting information board is very informative and gives a snapshot of what this well means for the area.

There are actually two wells here. The upper well is a simple holy well with a stone-built house. The lower well is covered by a simple stone house. In front of the latter is a long coffin-shaped trough. The sign by the entrance to the enclosure says that it was once customary to dunk coffins in this trough before they were taken to be buried at Barragh Church, 400m to the west.

There is a sign warning that the water from both wells is not suitable for drinking.

View of Co. Carlow from The Nine Stones, a prehistoric site on Mount Leinster, accessible by scenic routes from Myshall, Bunclody and Borris.

In 1822 Francis F. Hayden wrote that Myshall “commands as wild, as romantic and picturesque a range of scenery as ever attracted the pen of Byron, the pencil of a Reynolds, or the genius of a Thomson“, and the landscape has changed little since. One of the best of many fine views to be had in the district is from Corrabut Gap.

Myshall (Co. Carlow / Central)

Myshall (Midh Iseal – “Low Plain”) is a very picturesque village at the base of the northwestern slopes of the Blackstairs Mountains.

Adelaide Memorial church of Christ the Redeemer (CoI), a miniature version of Salisbury Cathedral, was designed by GC Ashlin and completed in 1913 at the behest of John Duguid (d.1912), a businessman from Dover, as a loving memorial to shelter the graves of his wife Adelaide (d.1903) and daughter Constance, killed on the hunting field in 1887 (she had been engaged to a member of the local gentry, prompting rumours that her saddle girth had been tampered with by another young lady in the vicinity who, 6 months later, married the grieving fiancé). The impressive interior is illuminated by stained glass windows designed by Evie Hone.

The remains of Myshall House are in a beautiful demesne near the village.

Myshall Glebe has had various incarnations. The Ireonad Follain Meditation & Self Awareness Centre was turned into a “reception facility” (internment camp) for foreign refugees in 2002.

Myshall’s most famous son was Peter Fenelon Collier (1849 -1909), who arrived penniless in the USA at the age of 16. Starting with a borrowed $35, he was the first man to sell books on the instalment plan and eventually built a publishing empire worth $12 million. He was the founder of Collier’s Weekly, a popular American magazine published from 1888 to 1957.

Myshall is quite close to Fennagh on ByRoute 6.

Rathnageeragh / Ranegeragh Castle consists of a square C14th gatehouse with two storeys. Iron fetters and manacles were found here.

Ballykeenan House Pet & Aviary Farm is an C18th manor with a farmyard full of ducks, geese, peafowl, turkeys, chickens and dogs. Horses, ponies, red deer, goats, black sheep and emus all live in the fields, while chipmunks, gerbils, guinea pigs, hedgehogs, mice and various exotic birds are housed in the stone outbuildings and paddocks. All visitors are given a fully guided tour by an enthusiastic member of the McCord family.

Garryhill is the location of Shean Garden, a wandering one-acre Eden with a wide variety of rare plants, shrubs and trees. The farmhouse has been home to the Smyth family since it was built almost 400 years ago.

Garryhill is within reach of Ballymurphy on ByRoute 4.

Ballymoon Castle is a striking ruin about which little is known. It was probably built c.1300 by the Carew family, who had acquired the barony of Idrone from the Bigod Earls of Norfolk. Some say that it was occupied by the Knights Templar for a time; others that the castle was never used. What remains is a square bawn protected by four high strong walls and a formidable gatehouse. Internal buildings would have surrounded an inner courtyard. Access is via a small wooden footbridge. (Photo –

Ballymoon is not far from Nurney on ByRoute 6.


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