Bagenalstown, county Carlow
One of my most loved small towns located along the river Barrow as it flows through county Carlow is Bagenalstown, it is located of the side of the hills that surround the river barrow south of Carlow town. Otherwise known in its Gaelic version as Muine Bheag it is a pleasant stretch of the River Barrow and derives its name from Walter Bagenal, who, in founding the town, had visions of mirroring the city of Versailles, in northern France.
However, his efforts became frustrated due to the re-routing of the coach road away from the town. He left more than enough for visitors to enjoy with handsome stone public buildings including the impressive Courthouse, now a public library in Bagenalstown.
The arrival of the railway in 1846 rejuvenated the town, and its neo-classical railway station is one of the finest in Ireland. Attributed to William Deane Butler it is constructed of limestone and granite and is a seven bay, two-storey building in an Italianate villa style. Today Bagenalstown station still retains its charm in a largely unaltered state. This former mill town made full use of the river Barrow to transport grain, beet, coal, turf and Guinness by barge, evidence of which can be seen in its fine industrial architecture. Near the railway bridge on the R705 Borris road is an example of the Carlow fence which consists of a decorative fence made of granite pieces, laid horizontally over vertical posts and is found nowhere else in the world.
One of the finest views of Bagenalstown may be enjoyed on the approach road from Leighlinbridge and includes the spire of St. Andrew’s Catholic Church and the fine tower of St. Mary’s Church of Ireland Church. St. Andrew’s Catholic Church was built in 1820 on a site provided by the Newton family, successors to the Bagenals. The stained glass behind the altar is worthy of particular attention. Nowadays, riverside walks, picnic tables and a picturesque lock enhance this fine town which has been twinned with the French town of Pont Pean since 1999.
ATTRACTIONS: The ruins of the early 14th century Ballymoon Castle and 13th century Ballyloughan Castle are located near the town. Wells Church, situated closeby, is the preserved ruin of a church dating back to 1262. The church is surrounded by an enclosed and well-maintained graveyard which is still in use today.
ACTIVITIES: Outdoor swimming pool. The McGrath complex offers excellent sporting facilities including cricket, hurling, soccer and Gaelic football fields, tennis court and pitch and putt courses. The River Barrow in this area is renowned for coarse fishing with wheelchair friendly fishing stands located near the swimming pool. The Barrow Way long distance walking route passes through the town.
An Old Man on the River Bank
By George Seferis
And yet we should consider how we go forward.
To feel is not enough, nor to think, nor to move
nor to put your body in danger in front of an old loophole
when scalding oil and molten lead furrow the walls.
And yet we should consider towards what we go forward,
not as our pain would have it, and our hungry children
and the chasm between us and the companions calling from the opposite shore;
nor as the bluish light whispers it in an improvised hospital,
the pharmaceutic glimmer on the pillow of the youth operated on at noon;
but it should be in some other way, I would say like
the long river that emerges from the great lakes enclosed deep in Africa,
that was once a god and then became a road and a benefactor, a judge and a delta;
that is never the same, as the ancient wise men taught,
and yet always remains the same body, the same bed, and the same Sign,
the same orientation.
I want nothing more than to speak simply, to be granted that grace.
Because we’ve loaded even our song with so much music that it’s slowly sinking
and we’ve decorated our art so much that its features have been eaten away by gold
and it’s time to say our few words because tomorrow our soul sets sail.
If pain is human we are not human beings merely to suffer pain;
that’s why I think so much these days about the great river,
this meaning that moves forward among herbs and greenery
and beasts that graze and drink, men who sow and harvest,
great tombs even and small habitations of the dead.
This current that goes its way and that is not so different from the blood of men,
from the eyes of men when they look straight ahead without fear in their hearts,
without the daily tremor for trivialities or even for important things;
when they look straight ahead like the traveller who is used to gauging his way by the stars,
not like us, the other day, gazing at the enclosed garden of a sleepy Arab house,
behind the lattices the cool garden changing shape, growing larger and smaller,
we too changing, as we gazed, the shape of our desire and our hearts,
at noon’s precipitation, we the patient dough of a world that throws us out and kneads us,
caught in the embroidered nets of a life that was as it should be and then became dust and sank into the sands
leaving behind it only that vague dizzying sway of a tall palm tree.
Me and Jessie T
Rowing down cedar creek
oar in hand, smile on our faces
trees scraping our backs
cant stop laughing
just keep rowing
Autumn is just starting to take a hold here in County Kilkenny, some green remains but a lot of the trees are just starting to turn yellow, as these pictures taken during a walk along the river Barrow show.
Autumn colours reflected in the almost still water of the river as it flows through the county on the last week in September 2015.
TREE BY THE RIVER
Gigantic tree’s canopy, there I lay
Dreaming how the world could be
Beyond those clouds, the horizon
Would there be one like me, alone
Got up pick up the roundest stone
Cast to the river and glide by its own
Hits a ripple, goes airborne
For a kid like me, it is a phenom
By the grassy banks, frogs abound
Love to disturb them,
into the river they plunge
Never tried to catch them because they slime
So beautiful, shiny greenish yellow, brown
Water is crystal clear,
see fishes swimming
Stones unturned are coated with stringy green
Constantly dancing as the little shells cling
Reach down to touch the water
Felt something came to me, a power
Don’t know what it was but still here
This September has been one of the warmest and driest in memory and just perfect for late evening walks along our local river banks.
These images are just some I have taken just before sunset each evening, September 2014 is one to remember for a long time !
Golden hour on the River Barrow : Gallery
By : Edwin Arlington Robinson
The miller’s wife had waited long,
The tea was cold, the fire was dead;
And there might yet be nothing wrong
In how he went and what he said:
“There are no millers any more,”
Was all that she heard him say;
And he had lingered at the door
So long it seemed like yesterday.
Sick with a fear that had no form
She knew that she was there at last;
And in the mill there was a warm
And mealy fragrance of the past.
What else there was would only seem
To say again what he had meant;
And what was hanging from a beam
Would not have heeded where she went.
And if she thought it followed her,
She may have reasoned in the dark
That one way of the few there were
Would hide her and would leave no mark:
Black water, smooth above the weir
Like starry velvet in the night,
Though ruffled once, would soon appear
The same as ever to the sight.
Sunset on the River
Jan Weeratunga, South Africa
Reds, pinks, oranges and gold’s catch the edge of the clouds and slowly turn the evening sky into a canvas waiting to be painted.
The sun’s last ray’s bounce off the cloud’s lining as it sinks gradually beyond the horizon.
Playfully the rays dance off the shimmering surface of the river,
Another fish jumps from the water,
Sending a concertina of ripples to the riverbank’s shoreline.
Golden waves approach as the setting sun sinks slowly below the horizon,
And small waves lap the side of our boat in an unending regular rhythm.
The repetitive knocking of the fender against the hull takes on the beat of the river,
Tapping the boat and shoreline alike,
It’s constant rhythm disturbed only by the wake of a passing boat or water bird landing on its surface.
Crickets join in with their own percussion as the melody is taken up by the surrounding birdlife,
Each chorus, their evening song as they head along the river bank in search of their nights roost.
Insects buzz over the surface, darting this way and that,
As swallows swoop swiftly, snapping them up in their gaping beaks.
Against the Western horizon a kingfisher dives into calmer waters bathed in a glorious warm orange light.
To the East the night’s first star is born,
It shimmers and shivers into life,
Just as the river serenely falls to sleep.
Peace is coming to the river as the ‘time between times’ –
That suspended few minutes of sunset –
Links all things in this world in a glorious golden moment before darkness descends.
Gradually the river slips into sleep
And the moon begins to rise and perform her dance across the waters glassy surface;
Replacing her brothers golden rays with her own silver ones.
Silver shimmering light bathes all beneath it,
Only disturbed by an occasional fish breaking free of its watery surrounds,
To be touched and blessed by the moonlight,
Before diving back down to the river bed.
The moon arches across the night sky,
Playing with the stars,
Until her brothers warming rays tell her it is once again time to allow the miracle of night and day to exchange places.
Evening ghosts along the river
I could tell you how the river looks
sketched in evening light;
I know the smell of mist so fresh over the river,
and night air that parts like tired curtains,
with wet heat that sighs
and slaps the grass when you move on;
I’ve felt what a violin says
to the heart of the river ghosts
over waters edge,
and how an old man’s voice sounds best after smoking,
but a woman’s is best talking.
There are ghosts on these paths,
but they don’t hunger anymore;
hunger is for the living
with morning light.
The river also forms a natural border between parts of counties Kilkenny and Carlow and Kilkenny and Wexford.
I Completed walking all the stages of the river last year, my favourite part of the river however is around the Goresbridge area, county Kilkenny.
The images below are just some taken at Goresbridge, during June of 2014.
River Barrow Gallery