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Tullow

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Prehistoric sites and curiosities around the Tullow area attribute to the regions very ancient history. Rathgall Stone Fort, 5km east of Tullow is an extensive hillside fortification with 8th century outer walls and later medieval inner walls. Excavations carried out at the site suggest that the fort dates from the Late Bronze age, and revealed extensive metal workshops and the existence of an important wealthy family or small community having lived on the hilltop. Haroldstown Dolman, a well-preserved portal dolman consists of two slightly tilted capstones supported by ten vertical stones, two of which are thought to have acted as a door to the tomb. Five kilometres south of Tullow in Ardistan, a stone of great antiquity is to be seen. Known locally as ‘Cloch-a-Phoill’ it is thought to have originally been part of a megalithic tomb. For over 2,000 years it was believed that sick infants, if passed through the six inch hole, would be restored to full health. Tullow was a location of ecclesiastical importance from at least the late 5th century when a monastery was founded by St. Fortiarnán (Fortchern). No traces of this remain although the large granite cross base and font in the churchyard of the present St Columba’s Church of Ireland church may have been associated with the early monastery. In more recent times, Tullow was the ancestral home of the Wolseley family, who became synonymous with the automotive industry. Frederick York Wolseley gave his name to the Wolseley car. The former eighteenth century estate is now home to the Mount Wolseley Country Club incorporating a fine 18-hole championship golf course designed by Christy O’Connor Jnr. Tullow also has an enduring connection with ‘Brave Fr. Murphy’ of Boolavogue, Co. Wexford, who is commemorated by a fine statue in the town square. Described as the most wanted and notorious insurrection leader of the 1798 rebellion against British rule, Fr. Murphy was executed in Tullow. The famous song Boolavogue is dedicated to his memory. During the early years of the 19th century, Daniel Delany, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, saw education as a pathway to a fuller and better life for all. To progress his vision he founded the Brigidine Sisters in 1807 and the Patrician Brothers in 1808. He also founded the present Catholic Church of the Holy Rosary. The church was dedicated in 1805; the tower and steeple were added in 1833. The fine Bishop Daniel Delany Museum in the Brigidine Convent gives a history of these orders and displays artefacts associated with the bishop. The Tullow Museum, housed in an attractive stone building at the bridge over the River Slaney also features a splendid collection of artefacts reflecting local history. Garden enthusiasts are well-catered for in the Tullow area. A must-see attraction is Altamont Gardens, regarded as one of the most romantic gardens in Ireland. Spreading over forty acres of Carlow countryside, there is a strong emphasis on the informal tradition of combining a good plant collection within the natural landscape of its environment. The gardens are open all year and are now managed by the Office of Public Works. Hardymount Garden is another interesting garden nearby that opens to the public during the summer season. Enthusiasts should also visit Rathwood Home & Garden World on the Shillelagh Road (R725) where along with all kinds of gardening advice, some gentle walks for all ages and abilities are available through Rathwood Forest. In June, the Gordon Bennett Rally is a three day event commemorating the original 1903 Gordon Bennett Cup Race, featuring over 200 antique, and vintage cars. The Annual Tullow Agricultural Show, which takes place in August, is one of the most established shows in the country, with something to interest both rural and urban visitors, both young and old. Food and craft halls, trade stands, and various competitions offer a great family day-out for all.

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