OSI Maps – OSI Discovery Series 68, 75 and 76. The Blackstairs, Mount Leinster and the Barrow Valley from East West Mapping www.eastwestmapping.ie
Borris is a Georgian, granite town, full of charm and heritage nestling in the fertile valley of the River Barrow.
Upper Borris was largely built by the McMorrough Kavanagh family who trace their ancestry directly to Dermot McMorrough, King of Leinster. It is characterised by the numerous 19th century granite buildings which give the town its epithet ‘Granite Town’. Central to this section is the lodge and gateway into Borris House, a uniquely Irish ‘Big House’. The carefully chosen site at Borris, in the midst of the Blackstairs Mountains on high ground adjacent to the main communication routes, has been home to the family since the 15th century. There are tours of Borris House available on selected days – see website for details www.borrishouse.com.
The town prospered in the 1800s as Arthur McMorrough Kavanagh, the landlord of the time, developed a sawmill and a thriving lace-making industry – Borris Lace soon became famous for its beautiful, intricate patterns and found its way to stately homes as far away as Russia. He also instigated the building of the spectacular 16-arch viaduct, situated at the lower end of the town, which carried the now defunct Great Southern and Western Railway Line between Bagenalstown and Palace East in County Wexford. A pleasing feature of the town is the Sacred Heart Church, built in 1820 with a façade of granite decorated with limestone
which incorporates a Romanesque style doorway.
This section of the walk allows the visitor explore the gentle scenery of the River Barrow, Ireland’s second longest river system with its attractive tree-lined slopes and canal heritage.
Walk uphill out of Borris on the main R702 towards Goresbridge. Historic Borris House, seat of the McMorrough Kavanaghs, onetime local kings of Leinster, is on your left. Pass a main road to Bagenalstown on your right and take the next left turn downhill towards Ballytiglea Bridge. Follow this busy road with care, turning left just before reaching the bridge, to drop steeply down to a little car park and riverside quay.
From Ballytiglea Bridge, keep left and follow the broad towpath downstream with the River Barrow on your right. Borris weir, canal and lock is passed – one of the many bypasses on the river to allow boats avoid rocky shallows. A little further on the Mountain River rushes in from your left and later you pass Ballingrane Lock. The roar of falling water soon heralds your approach to the scenic Clashganny weir and lock, a popular picnic and beauty spot. At Clashganny you might wish to take a detour and follow the looped walk signposted through Clashganny Forest and along the River Barrow.
Continue on the towpath from Clashganny, the ruins of Clohastia Castle lie to the right, one of many ‘Norman’ castles built to control navigation and crossing of the River Barrow. Reach Ballykeenan Lock and continue on following the yellow arrows, ignoring the local loop walks that turn left here. The wooded valley sides steepen on the next stretch and after a final sweeping bend, the historic towns of Tinnahinch and Graiguenamanagh come into view, with moored barges along granite quays and impressive old store houses. For those with some spare time, there is a fantastic 8km walk from here to the 7th century ecclesiastical site of St. Mullins, along the Barrow towpath.
‘Leave no Trace’ Principles
Practising a ‘Leave no Trace’ ethic is very simple. Make it hard for others to see or hear you and leave no trace of your visit.