Carlow Town 1836
Source: Old Towns of Ireland.
The history and
antiquities of the county have lately been illustrated
in a work on that subject by Mr. Ryan, which furnishes
all the historical facts of importance. For statistical
and geographical details see Stat. Survey of the County
of Carlow, Parliamentary Papers and Reports; Trans.
Geology. Society, vol. v. This portion however of the
present notice is chiefly derived from actual
CARLOW, the assize town of the
county of Carlow, situated in the parish and barony of the same name, 50
English miles South by South West from Dublin.
The boundaries of the ancient borough,
including only that portion of the town which stands upon the left bank of
the Barrow, have been extended by the 2nd and 3rd William IV, c.89, and
now embrace the suburb of Graigue, in the Queen's County, on the right
bank of the river; the extent of the ancient borough is 382 statute acres,
and that of the additional portion 114 acres, with a total population of
The town of Carlow grew up round the castle which
was founded here by the early English conquerors about the end of the
twelfth century. It was erected into a borough by William Earl Marshal
about 1208, and was surrounded with walls in 1362 by Lionel Duke of
Clarence, who removed the king's exchequer hither from Dublin.
Down to the revolution of 1688 the history of
the castle is that of the town. It is said that the castle was seized in
1297 by Donnell Mac Art Kavanagh: and it appears to have been occasionally
in the hands of the Irish till about 1494, when it was seized by a brother
of the earl of Kildare, and after a siege of ten days was taken from him
by the lord deputy Sir Edward Poyntings.
During Tyrone's rebellion Carlow castle was
held by the queen's wardens; and, in the wars subsequent to the rebellion
of 1641, was ineffectually besieged by the Irish (April, 1642). It was
next occupied by the royalists under Captain Bellow, and on the 24th July,
1650, after a short siege, was surrendered to Sir Hardress Waller,
commanding a division of Ireton's parliamentary forces.
In July, 1604, the manor of Carlow was granted
to Donogh O'Brien, earl of Thomond, and the office of constable of the
castle was bestowed on him and his son Brian in consideration of his
surrender of certain castles in Tipperary and Limerick.
In 16I4 the castle and town of Carlow were
granted to Sir Charles Wilmot, knight, at an annual rent of 6 shillings, 8
pence; and, in 1613, James I. granted a charter to the inhabitants of
Carlow, constituting the town a borough, to be governed by portreeve and
This charter was confirmed by the 26th Charles
II which constitutes the borough a corporation consisting of sovereign,
burgesses, and commonalty, and is the governing charter of the town at
The most remarkable object of antiquity in Carlow
is the castle now in ruins. Its dilapidation has been comparatively
recent. The whole structure, a square of 105 feet, with massive round
towers at the angles, was standing in 1814, when an injudicious attempt
was made to modernize it by piercing new windows and diminishing the
thickness of the walls, in consequence of which more than one-half of
the building fell to the ground. Its ruins, consisting of one curtain
wall with its flanking towers, about 65 feet in height, stand over the
left bank of the Barrow, and still form a prominent and picturesque
object. Under the south side of these ruins the Burrin, a small
river flowing westward from the barony of Forth, enters the Barrow
nearly at right angles. Over against the castle, on the north side of
the latter street, stands the parish church, a respectable edifice
ornamented with a spire of very elegant proportions, erected in 1834 at
an expense of 1,800 guineas.
The town consists chiefly of two main streets,
one running nearly parallel with the Barrow, and crossing the Burrin by a
neat metal bridge; the other at right angles leading to the suburb of
Graigue, in the Queen's County, by a handsome balustrade stone bridge
over the Barrow immediately north of the castle.
At the intersection of the main streets is the
old court-house, now shut up since the opening of the new building at the
entrance of the town on the northern side.
The new court-house is an octagonal building
of cut stone, with a handsome portico of Ionic columns, approached by a
fine flight of steps, and elevated on a massive balustrade basement; it
forms a very ornamental termination to the main street which here
diverges, the eastern branch leading to the Dublin road, the western
towards the Lunatic Asylum, and villas of the gentry situated along that
bank of the Barrow.
The Roman Catholic church and college stand on
the eastern outskirts of the town, and are both fine buildings; the
former, adorned with a lofty and highly ornamented octagonal tower, was
consecrated in 1834, and cost £18,000; the latter, a plain but extensive
edifice, was originally founded in 1789 for the education of lay and
ecclesiastical Roman Catholics. A new wing was added in 1828, and
the house is now calculated for 200 students. This building cost £13,000.
There is also a Roman Catholic convent here, founded 1811, with a school
(now in connexion with the national board) attached, which cost £2,600.
The late Dr. Doyle, Roman Catholic bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, was the
chief promoter of these foundations.
The county gaol, to which large additions were
made in 1832, stands on the south side, and is a well-regulated
establishment, where employment is provided for prisoners of both sexes.
Here is a barrack for two companies of
infantry and a troop of horse.
The town is not lighted, and there is no
public supply of water, which is procured from the rivers and by private
Coal is brought from the neighbouring coal
district in the Queen's County, and by the Barrow from Ross and Waterford:
but the principal fuel used by the lower class is turf, which is procured
from the borders of the adjoining county of Kildare.
The chief manufacture carried on here is that
of flour and oatmeal, large grinding mills being driven both by the Burrin
and Barrow: there are two breweries and one distillery, and a considerable
quantity of barley is malted in the town.
The butter trade is carried on extensively,
and the brand of Mr. Samuel Haughton, the chief exporter of this article
from Carlow, bears the highest character among Irish butters in the
In 1821 the population of that part of Carlow
in the county of Carlow was 8,035, and in 1831, 9,114, viz. 4,268 males,
and 4,846 females, forming 2,005 families, of which 96 were chiefly
engaged in agriculture, 824 in trade, manufactures and handicraft, and
1,085 not included in either denomination.
Houses inhabited, 1,351, building, 11;
unoccupied, 136, to which may be added 1,600 persons and 146 houses for
Graigue: 516 houses of the total number were thatched.
In 1824 there were in Carlow 15 Roman Catholic
and 12 Protestant schools, educating 1,035 males and 662 females; and in
1834 there were on the books of the various schools 876 males and 743
The number of students at present in the
college is 163, mostly ecclesiastical, who pay £25 per annum each; lay
students pay £34, 2 shillings, 6 pence.
Of the national schools one educates 200
males, and the other 269 females, both in connexion with the Roman
Catholic convent. Here is a Protestant free-school with a soup-kitchen for
the poor attached; the number of pupils is from 200 to 250. Under the same
roof are the apartments of an industrious association for bettering the
condition of the female peasantry, of a Protestant orphan society, and of
a Protestant benevolent society for clothing.
The lunatic asylum for the counties of Carlow,
Kildare, Wexford, Kilkenny, and Kilkenny city, which is half a mile north
of the town, was opened in 1831; it cost £22,552, 10 shillings, 4 pence,
is calculated to accommodate 106 patients, and is supported at an expense
of about £2,000 per annum. In 1833 there were 40 patients, and in 1836,
Carlow is a neat and thriving town, situated
in a rich country, and is the residence of many respectable individuals.
Old Towns of Ireland
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