Clonegal (irl. Cluain na nGall) is the one of must visit places in County Carlow.
It is picturesque village in the south-eastern part of Carlow County, 22 km from Carlow town. The name Clonegal comes from the Irish Cluain na nGall meaning “Meadow of the Foreigner”.
The village is located in the valley between the Blackstairs and Wicklow Mountains. It is just over a mile north of where the River Slaney and the River Derry meet. Clonegal is at the junction where Counties Carlow, Wicklow and Wexford meet.
Beautiful views, the vicinity of mountains, valleys and rivers made the village a favorite destination for tourists. Clonegal is often referred to as the “Switzerland of Ireland” due to its rare natural values. Dense forests, full of the sounds of wild birds, a picturesque river valley and historic buildings in the village make your stay here a real pleasure.
Clonegal is awarded at home and abroad. The village has earned its place as one of the prettiest and most visited villages in Ireland after its successes and awards in prestigious competitions such as the Tidy Towns Competition and Entente Florale Europe. In 2013, Clonegal represented Ireland (rural category) in the Entente Florale competition and won the gold medal. The community of Clonegal residents is constantly working hard to meet the demands of the competitions, and the efforts have already been rewarded many times. In 2014, the village was named “Tidiest Village in Ireland 2014” and a gold medal in the Tidy Towns (Clean City) competition for the fourth time in a row. She also won the Carlow Pride of Place (“Honorary Place”) in 2015. Clonegal was honored as Ireland’s Most Perfect Village (Tidiest Village) and kept the Gold Medal at the Tidy Towns Awards in 2015 and 2016 as well. On October 18, 2017, Clonegal became the winner of the Carlow Pride of Place 2017.
The main attractions in Clonegal are:
Huntington Castle also known as Clonegal Castle from the name of Clonegal, the ancient seat of the Esmonde family is today one of Ireland’s historical treasures. It is situated on the road between Dublin and Wexford. The castle was built in 1400 as a fortress for the Caviness family, an old Irish clan, on the site of a former convent. Huntington Castle is famous for being one of the most haunted castles in Ireland. The property is still lived in by descendants of the original owners the Durdin-Robertson family. Currently, it is open to the public, it can be visited with a guide, usually one of the descendants of the family. You’d never expect to find a castle like this in a little Carlow village. Huntington Castle is magical, like a living museum filled with objects of beauty and history. It is one of Ireland’s most interesting historical treasures.
Weavers Cottage are a 17th century houses of Alexander Durdin who owned Huntington Castle (hence also known as Durdin Chata) built for local weavers. Beautifully restored to its original condition with weaving and wool dyeing demonstrations held their. Traditional 17th Century garden to the rear of the property which grows plants and vegetables as well as wool dyeing plants. Walking tours also on the history of the village. The cottages can be visited, not only can you see historic looms, handicrafts from the past, but also weaving, spinning and crocheting shows are held there, there are also music, singing, dancing evenings and historical evenings introducing local weaving traditions.
This was once part of a weigh bridge, erected by the local community to weigh livestock. The livestock were weighed outside and the weights read in the house. In its last years of existence, a local pig buyer used it when purchasing pigs from the community. The weighing scales were accidently broken and then dismantled.
The village of Clonegal, a favorite place for walkers and photographers, is on the Wicklow Way, the oldest marked hiking trail in Ireland, about 130 km. The trail starts in Marlay Park in Dublin, circles the Wicklow Mountains on the eastern side, and ends in Clonegal through picturesque forests and valleys.
St. Fiaac’s Church of Ireland
St. Fiaacs Church is a Church of Ireland church situated on a slope to the north of the village. It was built in 1819 and designed in the Gothic aesthetic and has a tower and belfry. St Fiaac’s is found on the site of an older house of worship. The graveyard boasts stones from as far back as 1777, making it one of the oldest used cemeteries in Europe.
St. Brigid’s Roman Catholic Church
St. Brigid’s Church – the present church replaced the old Roman Catholic church which was built of mud walls and had a thatched roof. It is a barn type construction, built in 1824 around the old church. When the new building was completed the old building was taken out through the doors of the new church.
In Clonegal you will find Sha-Roe Bistro – a famous restaurant that needs to be booked in advance, next to it is Osborne Bar. The famous Altamont Gardens are also close to Clonegal.
I have been to Clonegal several times (hence the photos from different periods in this post). I was for the first time 3 years ago. Depending on the season and weather, Clonegal looks different every time.
Location of Clonegal: