Carlow Historic Sites

With everything that is going on in the world you could be forgiven for looking ahead to the future but below we have came up with an excellent way of looking at the past to make sure you have an amazing stay with us here at The Avlon House!

All of the historic sites listed below are tried and tested way of having a fun outdoor experience and learning about the culture and days of old. So once it’s safe to do so be sure to book with us directly for the best price on your stay and make the most of these exciting ancient locations.

Religious Sites

With the First Category on our list we have added some of the surrounding older churches/cathedral. A great way to spend a quiet day taking in some rich history.

St. Mullins Heritage Centre
St. Mullin’s Heritage Centre, situated in St. Mullins village which gets its name from the local saint, St. Moling (614-696). Located in an old Church Of Ireland church built in the early 19th century and beside the famous monastic ruins and cemetery.

The townland has many physical remnants from defining periods of Irish history. Among them are the ruins of an early Christian monastic community, a Norman stronghold and graves of the McMurrough Kings of Leinster and 1798 rebels. In addition, the history of its flour and woollen mills, farming, fishing and river and canal transport is exhibited. The heritage centre houses a collection of artifacts enhancing the display detailing the history of the locality. It also caters for genealogical inquiries about ancestors from the local area and neighbouring parishes.

St. Laserian’s Cathedral
St. Laserian’s Cathedral was built on the site of a monastery founded by St Gobban at the end of the 6th century. The present building was started in the 12th century and features architecture from every century since that time. It consists of a simple nave, 25 metres in length, a massive 18m tall central tower with an intricately ribbed vault that was added in the late 15th century, and a choir rebuilt mid-16th century.

St Laserian traveled from Rome to St Gobban’s monastery in the early 7th century. St Gobban retired shortly after leaving St. Laserian to be Abbot of Leighlin. When the Abbey was made the seat of the Episcopal See, Laserian became the first Bishop. Interestingly, St Laserian was successful in convincing the Irish Bishops at the Synod of 630 to adopt the Roman basis for establishing the date to celebrate Easter and thus ending a bitter controversy. Prior to that time Ireland stood alone in using the Celtic system. Under Laserian the monastery at Leighlin flourished and it is believed that at one time there were no less than 1,500 monks!

Quaker Graveyard and Lecky Family Graveyard –
The charming village of Ballon is rich in archaeological heritage. Located on the outskirts of the village is the Quaker graveyard also strongly associated with the Lecky family for whom nearby Ballykealey House was built in 1830. Twenty six members of the family are known to be buried in this Quaker plot.

By the late nineteenth century most of the family had become members of the Church of Ireland and a new family graveyard was consecrated in 1880. The graveyard remained in use until 1950. It includes a memorial to Captain John Lecky, killed in Mesopotamia in 1915 and the grave of Molly Grace (nee Lecky) a section officer in the WAAF who was killed in 1942 while flying her plane during the Second World War.

Archaic Monuments

The next section lists some strange ancient monoliths that to this day aren’t fully understood!

Cloch-a-Phoill –
The Cloch an Phoill is a huge pillarstone with a circular hole pierced through it, in Tullow County Carlow. It is believed the stone was used as a seal or blocking stone for a megalithic tomb some four thousand years ago and the hole was used to pass food through to the dead after the tomb had been closed. The hole is around 30 cms in diameter and as late as the eighteenth century sick children were passed through the hole as a cure. According to legend the stone is also associated with Niall of the Nine Hostages.

Brownshill Dolmen near Carlow Town –
One very unmistakable monument dating back to pre-historical times is the great Brownshill Dolmen the east of Carlow town. Brownshill Dolmen has a granite capstone weighing over 100 tonnes, making it the largest of its kind in Europe. The massive capstone rests on two portal stones which flank a door stone and slopes downwards to the west where it rests on a low boulder.

The magnificent capstone has excited the interest of many antiquarians and tourists down through the years and it is thought that religious rites, possibly even human sacrifice, were performed there for four and a half thousand years (2500 BC)


Where would a list of local history be without naming the best surrounding castles in the county?

Carlow Castle
Carlow Castle is situated beside the banks of trivers Barrow and Burrin near the centre of Carlow Town. It is one of the most important Anglo-Norman castles in Ireland. Now a ruin standing on the eastern bank of the River Barrow, Carlow Castle is thought to have been built by William de Marshal (Earl of Pembroke and Lord of Leinster between 1207 and 1213) and is similar in design to Ferns Castle in County Wexford. At one time Carlow was an important and strong military fortress, strategically sited at the confluence of the rivers, and the castle withstood repeated attacks in 1494 and 1641.

Clonmore Castle
A twelfth century fortress of roughly coursed granite rubble with extensive remodelling and additions. lonmore Castle is a twelfth century fortress but there was no mention of it until the 14th Century when it was repaired by Sir Anthony de Lucy in 1332. In the 15th Century it was one of several castles granted to the Earl of Ormond.

Typical of the late 13th century, the castle is nearly square in plan, with rectangular towers at the two southern corners, and smaller turrets at the other two corners. Remains of the main interior buildings can be seen on the eastern side of the courtyard. There are several interesting features remaining such as windows, stairway, chambers and narrow passages. Clonmore was captured by the Earl of Kildare in 1516 and by the Earl of Ormond in 1598. It changed hands several times in the Confederate War, and was finally taken by Cromwell’s forces under Colonel Hewson in 1650.

Black Castle
Black Castle is located in Leighlinbridge, County Carlow and is also known as Leighlinbridge Tower House. The original Black Castle, built in 1181, was one of the earliest Norman fortresses in Ireland.

Black Castle was granted to John de Claville by Hugh de Lacy, the powerful Norman baron who governed Ireland for Henry II. The present castle was built by Sir Edward Bellingham in 1547 and fell to Cromwell’s forces in 1650. The site was long held by the Kavanaghs and the Butlers and was also occupied by Sir Peter Carew and the Bagenals.