Carlow Antiquities

Among the more remarkable relics of antiquity are a large cromlech at Browne's hill, near Carlow, and another, still larger, at Tobinstown; also a rath near Leighlin-Bridge and, near Tullow, a pillar, perforated at the top and thence called Clogh a' Phoill, “the stone with the hole.” The Kavanagh family were in possession of several curious relics of antiquity, of which the most remarkable was an ivory horn mounted and ornamented with gilt brass, supposed to have been the tenure by which they held the estate: it has been deposited in the museum of Trinity College, Dublin. Another of these is the Figeen, a kind of ring, composed of a mixture of silver and tin; it was found in a ditch in the demesne of Borris. A third is the Liath Meisicith, being a brass box encased with silver, and containing extracts from the gospels written on vellum in Latin, but in the Irish character: it is also deposited in Dublin College.

Near Cloghgrenan some brazen swords and arrow-heads were raised out of a ford in the Barrow. Several remains of monastic buildings still exist. The most remarkable are those of Achadfinglass near Leighlin, Athade, Ballymoon (or, as it is called by Archdall, Bally-Mac-William-roe), Killarge, Kilfortchean, Old Leighlin, Leighlin-Bridge, St. Mullins, and Tullow. The remains of a round tower were visible near the church of Kellystown, until the year 1807, when they were cleared away to make room for a belfry. Around Old Leighlin are numerous remains of ancient buildings, among the most conspicuous of which are those of the venerable cathedral; and in several parts are ruins of churches, some of remote origin, close to which the modern churches have in many instances been built, tending to heighten the picturesque effect.

The most remarkable of the military antiquities is Carlow castle, built on the banks of the Barrow. In Idrone East are Ballylaughan, called also Ballylorgan castle, whose remains retain many traces of its former strength and importance; and Ballymoon castle, a structure of the Knights Templars, the walls of which are of great thickness, and sheep graze peaceably within its enclosure. Black castle, built on the eastern side of Leighlin-Bridge, retains its walls: near it was another fortress, built by one of the Fitzgeralds, and named for distinction White castle. The castles of Gilbertstown, Rathlin, Lorum, and Rathnegeragh, were in the same barony.

Clonmore castle, in Rathvilly, is in tolerable preservation. There are no remains of the castle of Tullow: it is supposed to have stood near the site of the present church. The ruins of Castle Grace are near Tullow. Clonmullen castle, of which some traces were in existence about fifty years since, though now obliterated by the plough, was anciently remarkable as the residence of Donell Spaniagh, and perhaps not less so, at a more modern period, for possessing as an inmate Ellen Kavanagh, immortalised by Carolan in his affecting melody of Aileen a Roon, and recently made the subject of an interesting poem by Mr. R. Garrett, of Janeville, in this county.

The habitations of the peasantry are of a better description than in many other parts of the country, the general appearance and habits of both sexes much improved, and the interior of their dwellings neat and comfortable. At Garrowhill, or Knoclcdrimagh, near the bottom of Mount Leinster, is a chalybeate spring; but its efficacy is little known except in its immediate vicinity.

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