Carlow in 1836
CARLOW, the assize town of the county of Carlow, situated in the parish and barony of the same name, 50 English miles S.S.W. 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 10,612 persons.
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 burgesses.
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 present.
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.
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 balustraded stone bridge over the Barrow immediately north of the castle.
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.
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 balustraded 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 pumps.
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 English market.
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 females.
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, 122.
Carlow is a neat and thriving town, situated in a rich country, and is the residence of many respectable individuals.