Winding its way through peaceful woods, fertile valleys and picturesque villages the Barrow is fully navigable for 68km from Athy in Co. Kildare to St. Mullins in Co. Carlow. A significant canalised waterway right up to the 1950’s the Barrow’s industrial past saw commercial barges carrying consignments of barley to the Guinness Brewery in Dublin and later, supplying beet to Ireland’s first sugar factory at Carlow.
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The Barrow has now evolved into a pleasure ground for all its users and there is no better way to experience the Barrow than by boat with plenty of villages and towns to moor in to enjoy the local hospitality. Canal-side inns are within easy reach of locks & mooring berths and the picturesque villages like Leighlinbridge and Bagenalstown cater to all tastes.
The Barrow is home to Graiguenamanagh’s Abbey of Duiske, constructed in 1204 while in Leighlinbridge you’ll glide under the graceful arches of the oldest bridge on the river, built well over 650 years ago. The dolmen at Brownshill is Europe’s largest portal tomb with its capstone weighing more than 100 tonnes. Together with the numerous standing stones, stone forts and burial chambers scattered throughout this region, it helps create a rich picture of ancient times. If you prefer something different there are opportunities for canoeing, whether you want to hire a canoe or bring your own. For whitewater paddlers, the area around Clashganna offers the best run, while rowing clubs along the Barrow offer ample junior and senior rowing. An essential part of the experience is walking the Barrow Way which follows the towpath alongside the River Barrow from Lowtown to St Mullins, a distance of 112 kilometres. Don’t miss the spectacular postcard setting view from above the lock at Clashganna.
In midsummer there are annual festivals and carnivals to be enjoyed. Walking festivals, regattas, music and arts festivals all compete for your time and attention. The annual events not to be missed are the Carlow Regatta in June, the Athy Bluegrass Music Festival in July and the Bagenalstown and the Graiguenamangh River Festivals in August.