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Borris

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Borris prospered during the late 1800s, as the landlord of the time, Arthur MacMurrough-Kavanagh developed a saw mill and built new cottages for his tenants. He also instigated the building of the graceful 16-arch viaduct, which was intended to carry the now defunct Great Southern & Western Railway line between Bagenalstown and Wexford. The famous Borris Lace was established by his mother Lady Harriet Kavanagh as a famine industry, which provided an income for the women of Borris during those harsh times. Borris Lace continued to be supported by the ladies of the Kavanagh family right up until the 1950s when it was eventually discontinued. Arthur MacMurrough Kavanagh was perhaps the most famous of all the Kavanaghs. Born in 1831 with a severe physical handicap - he was born without arms and legs - he grew up to be the most extraordinary member of his family and a source of inspiration for the disabled worldwide. He travelled extensively through Europe, Asia and India and excelled at boar-hunting, shooting, horse-riding, yachting and fishing. In February 1853, Arthur took over the running of the Estate which had become severely neglected due to the effects of the Potato Famine. He was widely recognised as a progressive landlord, improving farming methods and undertaking much building in the village. Aged 35 he was elected MP for County Wexford, and returned in 1868 for County Carlow. He died on Christmas morning 1889 at the age of 58. Arthur MacMurrough Kavanagh was a unique man for the determined way in which he overcame his physical disabilities to lead a full and active life. The jewel in the crown of Borris is undoubtedly the ancestral home of the MacMurrough Kavanaghs, Borris House, one of the most beautiful and historic Irish country houses and still lived in today by members of the Kavanagh family after 550 years. Borris House is open to the public on selected days throughout the year when tours can be arranged. Visitors to Borris can also enjoy a number of activities, with particularly good walking options, especially around the area of the Blackstairs Mountains. The long distance walking route, The South Leinster Way passes through the town from the Blackstairs, and at Ballytiglea Bridge 2 km from the town, links with the Barrow Way a flat riverside walk which runs alongside the River Barrow, and continues all the way down to St. Mullins. For angling enthusiasts, the Barrow is a noted coarse fishing river, or for those interested in golf why not play a round on one of Ireland’s oldest golf clubs. Pony-trekking is available nearby for all levels and abilities with Equine Trails who offer over 650 acres of parkland and woodland equestrian trails s fringed by the River Barrow. The Mount Leinster Heritage Drive is a 75km (47 mile) driving route through the beautiful countryside of south Carlow, taking in many of the areas towns and villages including Borris. Identifiable road signs make the Mount Leinster Heritage Drive and easy-to-follow tour while large map boards in the centre of each village or town provide further information. The trail can be joined at any point and driven in an anti-clockwise direction. County Carlow has a rich ecclesiastical heritage, spanning at least fifteen centuries. In recognition of this, three separate driving trails have been developed, collectively known as the Trails of the Saints. Borris House, the Sacred Heart Catholic Church (1820) and the Catholic Girls School (1832) in Borris form part of the St. Moling’s Trail which in its entirety is 70km (48 miles) in length.

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