The trail starts at 10am in Clashganny, just outside Borris, Co. Carlow
Clashganny is an enchanting deep valley hidden in the wooded hills then enters the peaceful Ballykeenan canal cutting and re-enters the river for the dramatic final 3k approach to Graignamanagh.
You will be amazed how this easy, lazy, relaxed solitute can rejuvinate MIND, BODY and SOUL.
This is 100% MINDFULNESS in Nature.
On arrival in Graignamanagh you can explore this gentle, historic and interesting river hamlet. Quaint coffee shops with tasty home baking. The 1000 yr old restored Duiske Abbey, wollen mills, cut glass, quiet streets with every colour of flower hanging from the windowsills, arts and crafts and a picturesque river setting lined with boats and barges in front of the famous bridge that was blown up and restored over 100yrs ago.
This trail is designed with complete beginners in mind and are led by qualified instructors who have years of adventure experience to call on
Along the way experience the river from a completely different perspective. There is usually plenty of wildlife including otters & kingfishers. Learn all about the 220 year old navigation that was used to transport Ireland’s favourite tipple Guinness around the South-East.
Special family ticket available – 2 adults and 2 child (16 years and under) for just €99
We are offering 3 for 2 on all bookings on Sunday’s in April.
Book two places, get the third place free. Four unique guided canoe trails available to book online now!
Week 1: Sunday April 8th
Barrow Discovery Canoe Trail- Thrills & Spills
Based just outside the charming village of Borris in Co. Carlow, here we have a stunningly beautiful canoe trail with lots of things to see and do enroute.
You will need to set aside up to 3 hours for this canoe trail – this includes:
Meet & Greet
Get geared up in the changing facilities on site. Everybody will be provided with the required gear including wetsuits, buoyancy jackets and helmets.
Experienced personnel will be on the water with you at all times.
Safety chat with your instructor before getting on the water. Followed by a demonstration – how to hold the paddle and what strokes to use.
Beginning with 10 minutes warm up in the Old Harbour – We start off in an area of flat calm water to learn the basic strokes, build your confidence and then off we go.
Rising up through a lock system typically found on a canal which gives us access to the river.
On the canoe trail there are weirs and rapids so expect a few spills and thrills but nothing scary. Along the way there are old lock keepers cottages, scenic waterfalls, and old castle and eel weirs and of course breathtaking views.
Finally we transfer back onto the Barrow Navigation using the lock and head back up the river to where we started.
You will have a ton of fun. Our events are run in a safe environment and are suitable for all ages.
You will be laughing from start to finish and beyond !!
We offer a choice of using Canadian canoes, Sit-on-top kayaks or river surfers.
There are toilets and changing rooms onsite and you return to the same spot as you started.
Furthermore we will supply a digital photo album of your event FREE.
This guided canoe tour begins at Goresbridge and you will travel through lower Ballyellen, Ballytiglea, Borris House Estate, Clashganny and Graiguenamanagh.
Along the way you will be passing through beautiful, wild rural countryside. You will travel along some of the old navigation used by the Guinness barges of the past and see many of the old lock houses. Typical wildlife to be seen – Herons, kingfishers, dippers, duck, swans cormorants and egrets and I could go on …… did I mention the otters.
Meeting in Goresbridge, this guided canoe trail heads south down the Barrow River from Goresbridge. As the river gently turns through a sweeping right hand bend as the 200 year old Barrow navigation lock house comes into view. Lower Ballyellen lock house is located just across the river from Barrowmount House – the home of the Gore family from 1710 to 1863. Sir Ralph Gore built the bridge in 1756 and the town was named after the family.
Paddling on through serene and majestic pine woods on the right and the old horse towpath on our left we soon arrive at Ballytiglea Weir. The weir itself is low enough but provides a stunning backdrop to a contempory wooden hunting lodge which looks on from across the flood plain.
Once over this man made dam which backs up the water level to maintain the navigation your next river section is reasonably shallow. The water squeezes between Granite boulders as it drops towards a left hand turn and enters a more agricultural hinterland. Up ahead is Ballytiglea bridge – a five arch granite structure which carries the Borris to Graignamanagh road over the Barrow river. The exact date of this bridge is unknown but it was on Taylers and Skinners road map of 1783.
We will shortly be entering the Borris Demence – take the navigation channel where the river is placid and winds it way through the quiet oak woods of the Borris House Estate.
The paddle through the ancient estate leads you to Clashganny and follow along after all this excitement with a paddle through the pine forest – as you make a quiet entrance into historic Graignamanagh.
Our route ends in Graiguenamanagh, a picturesque abbey town and a popular boating and craft centre. Overlooking the River Barrow is Duiske Abbey founded by Norman monks from Stanley Abbey, Wiltshire in 1204. The “Early English” design boasts a lofty nave and it is the largest of Irish Cistercian monastery churches.
Brandon Hill, Graiguenamanagh Bridge
Stop off here and have a look around and a bit of lunch. There is a beautiful old abbey and some very quaint shops and pubs. If you have time, follow the Graiguenamanagh Historic trail.
Clashganny to St. Mullins Guided Tour along the beautiful River Barrow.
So much natural beauty to be seen along the way. Enter the Barrow Gorge at Clashganny and enjoy the stunning vista as the River squeezes between dramatic forested hills on either side.
Keep an eye out for the wildlife you might meet along the way. Before entering medieval Graiguenamanagh, you will pass Silaire Wood on the right where the majestic 800 year oak tree towers over the River Barrow, it appears to grow from the Rock of Silaire.
Graiguenamanagh is a medieval town dating back to 1204, nestled in a wooded valley between Mt Brandon and the Blackstairs Mountains.
You will pass under the beautiful and historic seven-arch stone bridge and into some truly stunning scenery. There will be some wiers and rapids along the way but nothing too scary! Old Castles and lock houses will be visible en route.
You will be paddling through one of the most visually appealing river valleys in Ireland. A pilgram route for thousands of years.
Take your time.
This is something to immerse yourself in and not be rushed.
Arriving in St. Mullins, a village steeped in History, built on an ancient Monastic site.
Let the historian within you explore the village.
St Moling founded a monastery here at the end of the 7th century. He may have been Bishop of Ferns and also of Glendalough. The Kings of South Leinster, including the McMurrough Kavanaghs, were buried here.
There are remains of several churches. These include St Mullin’s Abbey, a medieval nave-and-chancel church with a spiral stairway, and St James’s Chapel, a small oratory dedicated to St. James and the people who stopped here on their way to the camino – Santiago de Compostela.
Go on your own Voyage in Ireland’s Ancient East this year and feel like you are travelling through time as you paddle down the River Barrow.
The Vikings arrived in Ireland which they called ‘Eireland’ in a raid on Rathlin Island, the most Northernly point of Northern Ireland in 795. They left a path of destruction behind them wherever they went as they took no mercy on the natives. The Vikings used the rivers to raid inland Ireland. They were very fond of monasteries as that were where the wealth of the country lay.
The Viking Raids on St Mullins
As the tide goes out from St. Mullins and the river Barrow falls, rocks appear at the bend just below the Mill, known locally as the “Scar” a Viking name for weir.
“Around the swelling waters a graceful swallow glides
As the ever patient Heron awaits the falling tides.
Shadows of raiding Viking ships about the scar appear
The clash of swords, the shouts men, the ancient smell of fear.”
824 a large fleet of Vikings sailed up the Barrow from Waterford to St Mullins and plundered the monastery of St Moling.
888 Riagan, son of Dunghal defeated the Vikings at St Mullins after which 200 hundred heads were left behind.
915 The Chiefs of Liphe of “Broad Deeds” waged a battle with the Vikings leaving 500 heads in the valley over Tigh –Moling St Mullins. The Irish were no Angles and great men for counting the heads of their enemies.
Round Tower Ruin, St. Mullins.
[Annals of the Four Masters, Vol 2. pp 590-1]
AD 951: Teach Moling was plundered by Laraic from Waterford the same fellow that Waterford is named after Port –Lairge .
Raiding Vikings from Waterford came up the Barrow River into the settlement at Athy and pillaged South Kildare.
Cluain Andobair was a temporary camp, ‘dunad’ made by the Dublin Vikings in the barony of Narragh and Reban West, Co. Kildare, just east of the Barrow river, with a longphort (Viking ship enclosure) situated across the Barrow from this site.
Ireland’s Ancient East – St. Mullins
Go on your own Voyage in Ireland’s Ancient East this year. Feel like you are travelling through time as you paddle down the River Barrow. Explore the ruins from where the Vikings raided St. Mullins, book a canoe trip now
Go with the Flow River Adventures are proud to announce that we have been nominated as:
‘The Best Outdoor Escape / Outdoor Provider’ with the Outsider Awards 2017
We would love more than anything to win!! The winner of the award will be decided by public poll so we need all the help that we can get. If you have been on one of our trails and enjoyed your experience please vote for us!
PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE follow this link and vote for us. Make sure you hit ‘submit’
Thank you so much for all your support in 2017
Beauty on the Barrow: A unique perspective on Ireland
The canoe might be the finest vessel ever built for the traveller.
In a canoe you can explore slowly and intently, just like walking or cycling, but from the water you see everything from a new perspective.
The landscape takes on a certain freshness.
Writer Lenny Antonelli spends a slow weekend exploring the river on a canoe-camping trip
Dan paddles down the Barrow river in an open-top Canadian canoe
My first trip in a Canadian-style open canoe was on the Royal Canal in 2015, paddling slowly from Enfield to Mullingar over three days. Then I canoed the Barrow and Upper Lough Erne, each time camping along the way. This summer, I return to the Barrow, the best of Ireland’s big rivers.
On a breezy bright evening, my friend Dan and I meet Charlie Horan of Go With The Flow River Adventures – who’s been guiding on the Barrow for 20 years – in Bagenalstown, Co Carlow.
Horan gives us a canoe, paddles, waterproof barrels, buoyancy aids, helmets and sets us on our way. We pack the boat with camping gear, spare clothes, food and wine and launch into one of the Barrow’s many side-canals.
We bring the boat through a lock and out on to the river, then paddle on under the Royal Oak road bridge and the high arcs of a railway viaduct. As the wind eases, the setting sun casts the river in pale oranges and purples. The still air above the water thrums with flies and midges, and bats come out to feast.
At Slyguff, we make camp in the dusk by a ruined lock house under beech trees. A family is eating dinner in a barge just above the lock. Later, when I knock and ask if they could boil some water for us – to my horror, I’ve brought the wrong camping gas for my stove – they offer us hot goulash, then invite us in for whiskey. Dan and I drink ours straight, our new German friends prefer theirs with Coke.
Through broken English, they tell us that they come boating on Irish waterways every summer. They have barely explored the west coast, but know the midlands intimately. And they are taking it even slower than us, planning to travel just four kilometres the next day.
We sleep well and wake early. With no fuel to cook, we eat chocolate and get back on the water, paddling in the morning silence.
We pull in at Goresbridge, Kilkenny, a sleepy little village. The only cafe is closed, so we raid the local shop for croissants, chocolate, fruit and coffee. “What’s going on in the world?” I ask Dan, who is looking at the papers.
When canoe touring, you shed your normal concept of time. Instead, your day becomes a slow rota of activities that anchor you to the present moment: you wake, make coffee and breakfast, break camp, paddle a while, stop for lunch, paddle some more, make camp, cook dinner, have a nightcap, sleep.
“You are kind of a self-sustaining unit as you travel down the river, that’s one of the real adventures of it, you leave the world behind,” Horan tells me. “You have your tent, your sleeping bag. If you’re smart enough you’ll turn off your phone.”
In 1783, work began on a waterway to link the Grand Canal with the Barrow. This canal, the Barrow Line, stretches through Kildare from Robertsown to Athy, where it meets the river proper. From Athy south to St Mullins, the navigation follows the Barrow and a series of side-canals built to bring boats around shallow, rocky stretches of river.
Weirs were built to provide sufficient water for each side-canal. Experienced paddlers might choose to shoot the weirs and the rapids below. Newbies should take the canals, which means either bringing the boat through a lock if you have a key, which is slow going, or portaging around (carrying the boat), which is hard work.
We get back on the water as the grey day warms up. Below Goresbridge, the Barrow is a revelation, winding south through endless forest. Down on the water, the skyline is nothing but fir and larch, willow and ash.
This is the Barrow’s beautiful deceit. The riverside woods might only be tens of metres of deep, but in your canoe you have no way of knowing. So where woods overhang the river near Borris estate, the Barrow feels so wild and empty you could be a voyageur exploring the waters of deepest Quebec.
Horan tells me that when guiding on this wondrous stretch of the river, he asks his clients to be totally quiet, just to experience the silence.
At Borris Lock we stopped for lunch in the close heat. Dan spots a young buzzard perched deep in the woods, as one of its parents shrieks overhead. Travelling with Dan, a skilled naturalist, is an education. He points out the whooper swan loitering for the summer when most had returned to Iceland, the jays calling from the woods, the sparrowhawk circling overhead.
He tells us the woods fronting the river are known as gallery woods, and that one bird call we hear is a great-spotted woodpecker – a species that has only recently recolonised Ireland.
Later on, the clouds burn off and the evening sky turns blue. We paddle into Graiguenamanagh and set up our tents on the grassy riverbank above the village. We walk up the town’s pretty, curving main street, have dinner in the Chinese and walk around historic Duiske abbey. We climb up to a terrace of Tudor-revival style “widow’s cottages”, built around 1850 by the local landlords for “indigent widows” according to the plaque, as dusk comes over the valley.
Then we make our way back to the tents, but slowly, via three pubs. Kilkenny have just beaten Limerick in the hurling, and the town is buzzing, the main street thronging as cover bands and disco lights fill the bars and locals ease from pub to pub.
The next morning is bright and still. Back on the water, the morning is hot as we paddle on under the forested slopes of Brandon Hill. The valley grows deeper, the trees seem taller. At Carriglead Lock a sign outside the lock cottage protests plans to turn the grassy towpath into a cycling greenway.
We paddle down the long canal to St Mullins Lock, where barges and cruisers sit, some half-sunk and forgotten. This is where the Barrow Navigation ends. We tie up the canoe and walk the kilometre downriver to the Mullicháin Cafe, situated in an elegant old riverside grain store.
From here south, the river is under the pull and push of the tides. This is also where the towpath ends. There is talk of extending the planned greenway south of here, where the valley becomes deep, wild and inaccessible. And while I’m sure there are good economic reasons for doing so, there are other good, less tangible reasons, for doing nothing at all.
The cafe is buzzing, the riverbank thronged with people sunbathing in the heat. After a big lunch we get back on the water; our car is back in Graiguenamanagh. We launch the boat for one last paddle back up river as the white sun beats down on this wild little world.
Canoe touring the Barrow: how to do it
The calm, sheltered waters of the river Barrow are ideal for your first canoe touring trip. “There are very few waters in Ireland where a compete beginner can just take off,” says Charlie Horan of Go With the Flow River Adventures.
Go With The Flow offers self-guided and guided tours, from one night to week-long trips. You can start from as far north as Monasterevin in Co Kildare, or any of the towns and villages down along the river, many of which are accessible by train and bus. Go With The Flow is offering a special deal of €99 per person for a weekend self-guided canoe trip, from Friday to Sunday. Horan can provide tents, or organise B&Bs or luxury accommodation along the river.
Lenny Antonelli for The Irish Times, Saturday August 26, 2017
For more information or to book a 3 day canoe & camping adventure click here