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Leighlinbridge

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Leighlinbridge (pronounced "lock-lin-bridge") is a village in County Carlow, with an ancient bridge over the River Barrow that's still in use. It stood astride the main Dublin-Waterford road until bypassed in the 1980s. In 2016 its population was 914.

Get in

Expressway Bus 4 runs every couple of hours from Dublin Airport (DUB IATA), Busáras and Heuston station to Carlow and Leighlinbridge, 2 hours, and continues to GowranThomastownMullinavat and Waterford. The bus stop is on the bypass R448, 500 m west of the bridge. If you take X4 you need to change at Carlow, as this bus then flies non-stop down the M9.

Kavanagh Bus 873 runs twice M-F from Carlow to Leighlinbridge, Bagenalstown, Paulstown and Kilkenny.

The most convenient railway station is Carlow, which has trains every 2-3 hours from Dublin Heuston via NewbridgeKildare and Athy. A taxi from Carlow to Leighlinbridge might be €25. The trains continue south to Muine Bheag / Bagenalstown, Kilkenny and Waterford. Bagenalstown is only 4 km south of Leighlinbridge so bike-on-train would work, but no taxis are based there. You could also hike there on the canal towpath, see below.

By road from Dublin follow M9 to Exit 6 then head south on R448.

Get in from space: on 28 Nov 1999 a fireball roared across County Carlow, and in the following days three meteorites were found hereabouts, totaling 271 gram. They were chondrite, the commonest type: primordial gunk from the beginning of the solar system that has never been part of a planet or large moon.

Get around

You need wheels to get around the area. A bike would do.

To reach Muine Bheag / Bagenalstown 4 km south, hike or cycle along the towpath east bank of the canal. The road R705 is busy and narrow with no sidewalk, so walking it is unpleasant by day and hazardous at night. The towpath upstream of Leighlinbridge is on the west bank up to Carlow.

See

  • Black Castle east end of the bridge is a scrappy ruin, with a 15 m tower and bawn wall. The first castle was built circa 1181 by the Normans. A Carmelite friary was established a little way north in the 1270s and when this was suppressed in the 1540s, it was converted into the present castle. Another "White Castle" supposedly stood nearby but no-one can find it. They should try looking in Athy, which has a White Castle guarding its bridge and the same tale of a second castle that no-one can trace.
  • 1 Valerian Bridge is the attractive nine-arched stone bridge over the River Barrow. It was first built in 1310, making it one of Europe's oldest, and widened in the 18th century. The name simply refers to the herb sprouting from its stonework. Don't confuse it with the Valerian Bridge built in the 3rd century AD by captured Roman troops: that's in Shushtar in Iran, and no point looking for the missing castle there.
  • Dinn Righ means "meeting place of the kings" - their main rendezvous was in Naas, but there's a little mound of that name south side of the village where Church Street the historic highway rejoins the bypass R448. At the junction north side, just east of the modern bridge, "Thrones" is a sculpture of 1986 by Michael Warren that's meant to symbolise this, insofar as you can do so with two metal panels emerging from a mound of shrubbery.
  • 2 Old Leighlin 3.5 km west was once a large monastery. Founded in the 7th century, it burned down circa 1060, but St Laserian's Cathedral was built on the site in the 12th century. This has been much modified since but is still in use as a C of I (Anglican) church.
  • 3 Milford Mills were built in 1790, powered by two hefty waterwheels. The mills ground corn into flour but were burnt out in 1862. They were rebuilt as a hydroelectric scheme, supplying electricity to Carlow from 1891, and still in supply. In the 1940s the mill buildings became a tannery, but another fire in 1965 finished it off.
  • See blue eyes or blue skies, but credit the right fellow. John Tyndall (1820-1893) was born and schooled in Leighlinbridge. He discovered the Tyndall effect of colour scattering by colloid-sized particles: this is powerful over short ranges and is the reason for blue eyes and the blue tinge of cloudy liquids. The blue of the sky is from "Raleigh scattering" by particles smaller than the wavelength, such as the air molecules. Tyndall made huge contributions to science through his insistence on the primacy of experimentation and reasoning over dogma and ancient creed; this earned him the hatred of Pope Pius IX.

Do

  • Walking: see Get Around.
  • River Barrow is navigable, with short canal cuts and locks to get past the weirs and shallows, and you can moor at Leighlinbridge. There's coarse angling all along the river, with multiple access points.

Buy

  • Centra is within the filling station at the junction of Seskin Rd with the bypass. It's open M-Sa 07:00-22:00, Su 08:00-22:00.
  • Arboretum is a large homeware and garden centre north end of the village next to the bypass.

Eat

  • Lord Bagenal Inn has a good restaurant, see Sleep.
  • Rico's west end of the bridge serves pizza and similar fare.
  • Sisters is a rival pizzeria facing Rico's.

Drink

  • Meaney's, Kilbrides and Kelly's are pubs just west of the bridge.
  • O'Hara's Brewery is in Bagenalstown and offers tours.

Sleep

  • Lord Bagenal Inn, Main St, Leighlinbridge R93 E189 (east end of old bridge), ☏ +353 59 977 4000, ✉ info@lordbagenal.com. Popular hotel with restaurant by the river, gets mostly good reviews. B&B double €120. (updated Jul 2021)

Connect

As of July 2021, Leighlinbridge has 5G from Three, and a mobile signal from Eir (patchy) and Vodafone.

Go next

  • Muine Bheag / Bagenalstown: you cannot imagine, if you've never visited, how this was touted as the Versailles of the north. And you still can't after visiting.
  • Carlow has a white castle and a fine bridge.
  • Kilkenny is an attractive miniature medieval city.



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