Bear’s Big Day Out…Tuesday 14 July…County Carlow

Tuesday we left Dublin nice and early by chuck out time at the hotel and made our way back down the motorway to Ballon where our trusty little Rental Car, Blue Fiesta, was ready and waiting for us.  Bear had a busy day and was even able to get out of the car/nice warm cosy backpack and participate in the world as it stopped raining long enough to explore some of County Carlow.  But before it actually stopped raining it was touring from the inside of the car taking in some scenery and little towns/villages along the way…


At Leighlinbridge Bear took some time out and enjoyed the view of the bridge, believed to be the oldest functioning bridge in Europe…


And also spent some time in the nearby Remembrance Garden.  This was a lovely public space with various items of remembrance dotted around including a memorial structure to fallen military personnel in WWI and WWII which had incredible detail, not only the name but the County/town, birth date and date of death inscribed on the inside walls out of the damaging effects of the weather.

Across the way from Leithlinbridge is Old Leithlin, a heritage ecclesiastical village and St Laserian’s Cathedral.  The present building was begun sometime between 1152 and 1181 -yes, that is right 1100’s – on the site where a monastery was founded in 630AD.  What is important about this site, aside from the beautiful cathedral, that now stands there is that it was the location of a synod that determined the system to be used to determine the timing of Easter each year.  It was a choice between the Roman and Celtic systems and the Roman one was favoured.  This decision was ratified in 664AD and we have had the dates of Easter determined as decided back then ever since!  That was one decision that certainly stuck!!

The Cathedral is still in use today by the Church of Ireland.  This was certainly not a relic in ruin…


Moving back to just outside Carlow Town is Brownshill Portal Tomb.


The largest portal in Ireland (and possibly Europe) the balancing rock weights in the region of 150 tons!  This done without mechanical means, quite a feat.  Sitting in a field in a fenced off area in the middle of a farm a short walk in from the road along a fenced off lane.  Bear was a bit worried about it falling on his head but as it has been there for oh, about 5,000 years it was figured it wasn’t about to suddenly lose its balance!

The next stop was a bit of a find. Duckett’s Grove.  A ruin of a castle built in the 1800’s…


Isn’t this the coolest castle?  Just like something out of a fairy tale.

Check out the size of the front door!  Bear felt very small…

P1000621But wait there’s more…

P1000595A secret walled garden that is found once the castle walls are entered.  It has recently been replanted and is really lovely.  The first garden leads to a second which has been replanted as a kitchen garden/orchard.  And did I mention…it was free to go and visit!

In fact the day had only cost petrol and time as the last port of call, Altamont Gardens, was free as well.


Altamont Gardens is quite close to our accommodation in Ballon.  The property was owned by a lady who left it to the State and it is now like a private botanical garden and a plant sales nursery attached with a resident who wasn’t about to be disturbed by anyone…


This post has turned out to be looonnnggg but well, that was our day out in County Carlow – we covered quite a bit of ground and went to places our host didn’t even know about!

Until next time.


Posted on July 22, 2009, in Ireland, Trip. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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