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Tullow

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Tullow is a small market town in County Carlow where N81 crosses the River Slaney. This was the main road between Dublin and Wexford until M11 was built along the coast. But Tullow (An Tulach, "The Mound") held little strategic value, with no castles, town walls or battlefields, though it was on the fringes of the 1798 rebellion of United Irishmen. It remains a quiet place, with a population in 2011 of 3972, and is within commuting range of Dublin. The oil and gas exploration company Tullow Oil was founded here in 1985.

Get in

The nearest railway station is Carlow, with trains every couple of hours between Dublin Heuston and Waterford. It's 15 km from Tullow, a taxi might be €25-30.

Bus Éireann 132 runs from Dublin (either Connolly station or Busáras) to Blessington (for Russborough House), Baltinglass and Rathvilly, taking 1 hr 45 min to Tullow, with some services continuing to Ballon and Bunclody. There are four M-F, two Sa and three on Sunday. Beware the extra Bus 132 that runs on Thursday: it branches off at Baltinglass to explore the wilds of Wicklow nowhere near Tullow, eventually reaching Wexford and Rosslare.

JJ Kavanagh Bus 874 runs twice M-F from Carlow to Tullow (one hour), Rathvilly, Baltinglass and Hacketstown.

Local Link Bus 800 runs from Arklow (for trains from Wicklow Town, Wexford and Rosslare ferry port) via Aughrim, taking 1 hr 20 min to Tullow and continuing to Carlow. There are four M-Sa and two on Sunday.

1 The Square is the main bus stop and village centre.

By road from Dublin take N7 / M9 towards Carlow and leave at M9 exit 4 - zigzag east on R448 to join R418 south into Tullow.

Get around

The main sites are some distance out so you need wheels. A bike would do.

See

  • Father John Murphy (1753-1798) is commemorated by a statue in the Square. He was a middling sort of parish priest until in the 1798 rebellion of United Irishmen, he displayed an unexpected talent for military leadership. The rebellion was strongest in County Wexford: see that page for more of the story. Murphy was among those who escaped from the last stand on Vinegar Hill, Enniscorthy through a gap in the encircling forces. His little band tried to fight on, but Murphy was captured near Tullow, tortured and put to death. He's buried at Ferns near Enniscorthy.
  • Tullow Museum, Bridge St, Tullow, ☏ +353 87 238 3515. M-F 14:00-17:00. A small museum in a stone-built former Methodist church. Most of the display is about the 1798 rebellion. Free. (updated Jul 2021)
  • 1 Altamont Gardens, Altamont R93 N882 (9 km south of Tullow), ☏ +353 59 915 9444. Daily Apr-Oct 09:00-18:30, Nov-Mar 09:00-16:00. The mansion may be 16th century but was made-over in the 1840s; it's not open to tour. You come for the extensive riverside gardens, described as "Robinsonian": William Robinson (1838-1935) opposed the stiff formal Victorian look, and championed cottage and "wild" gardens with native species in natural places. He'd have to avert his eyes from the masses of rhododendron and the Giant Redwood planted after the victory at Waterloo. Free, €2 car parking. (updated Jul 2021)
  • 2 Huntington Castle, Clonegal Y21 K237, ☏ +353 53 937 7160. Mar Apr Sa Su, May-Sept daily, 11:00-17:00. Fortified mansion built in 1625 astride the Dublin to Wexford road. It's a plush Georgian / Victorian interior, visit by guided tour and available for B&B; it was the location for the 1975 Stanley Kubrick film Barry Lyndon and has extensive gardens. A 19th century turbine down by the river supplied the house with electricity. The basement has become the global headquarters of "The Fellowship of Isis", founded in 1976 at the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, the Age of Aquarius, A-quar-i-us! It aims to, um, "help the Goddess actively in the manifestation of Her divine plan" and apparently this is coming along nicely. Adult €12, conc €11, child €6. (updated Jul 2021)
  • 3 Rathgall Hill Fort (Ring of Rath) (5 km east of Tullow, enter from north side lane off R725). 24 hr. Hill fort with three concentric stone ramparts, Bronze Age circa 1000 BC, with an inner fourth wall of 15 m diameter added in early medieval times. Free. (updated Jul 2021)
  • 4 Haroldstown Dolmen stands along R727 towards Hacketstown. It's a large portal tomb with two capstones and ten uprights: in the 19th century, a family lived in it.
  • Rathvilly is a village on N81 near the Wicklow boundary. 1 km east stands the Moat or motte, stronghold of a 5th century king of Leinster.
  • 6 Baltinglass has a striking ruined abbey, and the Rathcoran passage grave and hill fort. It's 10 km north along N81 in County Wicklow, but the south end of that county is short of accommodation and other visitor facilities so Tullow makes a better base.

Do

  • Mount Wolseley Golf Course is within the hotel south of town. The course, designed by Christy O'Connor Jr, is par 72, 7206 yards off championship tees, visitor round €50. Golf carts and clubs are available from the golf shop, open daily 10:00-17:00.
  • The Wicklow Way is a 131 km hiking trail that reaches its south terminus at Clonegal. It's usually done from Dublin southwards over 5-7 days, but please yourself. The last 40 km from Moyne to Clonegal is through lowland fields and doesn't have the upland scenery, yet feels more away-from-it-all as it's further from the city and the big-name tourist areas.

Buy

Tesco in Tullow is open M-Sa 08:00-22:00, Su 10:00-20:00. Aldi is open M-F 09:00-22:00, Sa Su 09:00-21:00. There's also a SuperValu, Lidl and Mace.

Eat

  • River Bank Restaurant, Mill St, Tullow, ☏ +353 59 915 2944. Su-Tu 12:30-20:00, W-Sa 12:30-21:00. Serves good Irish and European cuisine. (updated Jul 2021)
  • Tara Arms, Church St, Tullow R93 T6K9, ☏ +353 59 915 1305. M-Sa 10:00-23:00, Su 12:00-23:00. Lively bar with Seasons Restaurant. (updated Jul 2021)
  • New Moon Tandoori (formerly Krish), Church St, Tullow, ☏ +353 59 918 0851. Daily 16:00-23:00. Friendly place with good Indian food. (updated Jul 2021)

Drink

  • The Derreen, Mill St, Tullow R93 H1X7, ☏ +353 59 910 8041, ✉ info@thederreen.ie. Su-F 12:00-23:30, Sa 12:00-00:30. Friendly pub with decent food, pool table and big-screen TV sport. (updated Jul 2021)

Sleep

  • 1 Ballyderrin House, Shillelagh Rd, Tullow R93 K7F7, ☏ +353 59 915 2742, ✉ ballyderrinhouse@eircom.net. Clean welcoming B&B 1 km east of Tullow. They can provide transport for walking and fishing groups. (updated Jul 2021)
  • 2 Laburnum Lodge, Bunclody Rd R93 R524, ☏ +353 59 914 9938, ✉ annie@laburnum-lodge.com. Smart clean welcoming place in a Georgian house in the Slaney Valley, 1 km from Tullow. (updated Jul 2021)
  • 3 Mount Wolseley Hotel (formerly Hilton), Tullow R93 C9H0, ☏ +353 59 918 0100, ✉ info@mountwolseley.ie. Upscale hotel spa and country club in a mansion built in 1864, gets mostly great reviews for comfort and service, but some lapses. See above for the golf course. B&B double €200. (updated Jul 2021)
  • 4 Ballykealy House, Rosslare Rd, Ballon R93 A9K1 (on N80 six km south of town), ☏ +353 59 915 9288, fax: +353 59 915 9297, ✉ info@ballykealeyhouse.ie. Smart upscale hotel, gets great reviews for comfort, service and cuisine, but only offering B&B Saturday nights. They also have 14 lodges each with two double bedrooms, sleeping 5. B&B double €200. (updated Jul 2021)
  • 5 Lisnavagh Estate, Lisnavagh, Rathvilly, ☏ +353 59 916 1473, ✉ events@lisnavagh.com. Plush wedding and events venue, may have accommodation for independent travellers. (updated Jul 2021)

Connect

As of July 2021, Tullow has 5G with Eir and Three, and 4G with Vodafone.

Go next

  • Carlow has the county museum, in a beautifully restored convent.
  • Athy has a white castle and fine cathedral. Go there via R418 / R448 to take in Castledermot monastery, Moone High Cross and Burtown House and Gardens.
  • Glendalough the other side of the Wicklow mountains is a must-see monastic complex in a scenic valley.
  • Blessington has the palatial Russborough House, with a big name art collection. Along the way stop off in Hollywood, featured in so many movies that they've put a sign on the hillside to avoid confusion with any similarly-named place.


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