The Graiguenamnagh Heritage Trail is a free walking tour that explores more than 800 years of the rich and interesting history of this scenic river village. There are 27 sights including:
- The Convent of Mercy
- The Widows Cottages: The four elegant Tudor-Revival style cottages on Abbey Street were built – with their potato patches to the rear ‘for deserving widows’ by the Clifden Family, landlords of the town. Up until 1930 these houses were used to re-home widows and are now privately owned.
- The Assembly Rooms – Now Doyles and Predergasts stores. This was once a club and entertainment centre which was run by a committee of leading citizens for the social outings of the better off. In 1779, after an abduction of the Kennedy Sisters, two heiresses who had been visiting the town and went to see a play at the Assembly Rooms, their captors were found and later hanged – the last hangings in Ireland to take place for the crime of abduction
- The Bianconi Archway – Bianconi Coaches ‘Bians’ were horse drawn carriages for paying passengers. At this turning point, the team of horses were changed.
- The Fountain stands at the southern end of the western gable of the Abbey Church. Erected in 1899, the fountain was a principal source of drinking water for many people and was a popular gathering place.
- The Monastic Mills – The corn grinding and tuck mills of Duiske Abbey from the early 13th century.
- Peg Washington’s Lane – reputed to be the smallest lane in the world! In the early 1800’s, the widow Peg Washington watched anxiously as new buildings were erected between her home and the Duiske River. Fearing that these buildings would cut off her water supply, she asked David Burtchaell, Chief Magistrate of the town, for a gap between the buildings to allow her access to the water. When asked what width was required she replied ‘Just the width of myself’ and so Peg Washingtons Lane came to be.
- Graiguenamanagh Bridge – Linking Graiguenamanagh, Co. Kilkenny and Tinnahinch, Co. Carlow the Graiguenamanagh bridge was built in 1767 to the design of George Smith, a pupil of George Semple, though it had been traditionally attributed to the master himself! During the 1798 Rebellion, the Crown forces blew up the arch of the bridge nearest the county Carlow side of the Barrow to prevent the Wexford Rebels from entering to Kilkenny.
- Eddie Power’s Memorial: Local poet who was a well known swimmer and diver.
- Boatmen’s Memorial – A Memorial to the memory of all the Graiguenamanagh boatmen who spent the greater part of their lives on the Waterways of Ireland, ferrying loads of beet, sugar, porter, whickey etc.
- Tinnahinch Castle, built by James Butler, third Lord Mountgarrett in about 1620.
- The Market House, erected in the early 1800’s by the second Lord Clifden, the upper apartments of the market house for some 150 years was used as courthouse, community centre and headquarters for the towns Reading Society, Brass Band and many other clubs and associations.
- The Fever Hospital: During the Great Famine, a fever hospital was located in a yard at the corner of the Barrow Lane and the Oisery Quay. It operated from July 1847 to November 1850.
- Graigue Wood is the only one of the extensive monastic woods to have escaped the ravages of the time! In the wood is the Rock of Sillare which towers above the Barrow and can be seen on the river trail just before entering Graiguenamanagh. It is crowned by a magnificent oak tree that appears to grow from the tree and is said to be over 800 years old!
- St. Peter’s Church served the local protestant community for 150 years . Built in 1809in the ‘spikey gothic’ style of the period. Only the tower now stands. A small two-roomed school, which also served the protestant community, stood inside the entrance to the church grounds, built in 1829 and later used as a residence.
- General Cloney’s House: General Thomas Cloney was a leader of the Irish Rebellion on=f 1798. He lived here from 1802 until his death in 1850.
- The Stone (Clapper) Bridge: Linking Duiske Abbey to the Mills over the Duiske River
- Bachelor’s Walk: Now a lonely lane, in the 1800’s contained 15 small cabins. From one of these, Mr’s O’ Leary, who emigrated to America. One of her cow’s is later said to have kicked over the lamp that started the great Chicago Fire in 1871!
- Singleton’s Well – named after a man who John Singleton, ‘Singleton the Pointer’ who pointed the finger at 3 others who were later hanged because of Singleton’s accusations. He was found murdered at the well, a repercussion of his accusations.
- The Pound: Built in the early 1800’s to detain animals who were seized for unpaid debts.
- Hartley & Mullins Memorial in front of the Abbey Hall is dedicated to the memory of Nicholas Mullins, Thomastown and Sean Hartley of Glenmore who were killed by the British Army Forces on June 18, 1921 at Coolbawn, Castlecomer in the last days of the Irish War for Independence. Bother men were members of the 5th Batt Kilkenny Brigade IRA Flying Column which had its headquarters in Graiguenamanagh.
- Duiske Abbey– A National Monument, and the most recognised landmark in Graiguenamanagh, Duiske Abbey originated in the 13th century as the church of a Cistercian monastery, but today it is a Catholic parish church. The abbey began to deteriorate in 1536 and it gradually fell into ruin. The last tragedy occurred in 1744, when the tower collapsed into the nave. It later underwent some renovations while serving as a place of worship for the Protestant Church of Ireland, returned to the Catholic community in 1812. Duiske Abbey was fully restored 1980’s. You will be able to see the ancient stone and high clerestory windows of the nave as well as an effigy of a 13th-century knight at the entrance. The processional door of the 13th century and early medieval floor tiles are visible and can be seen in the sunken floor to the right of the main entrance. On the Grounds of Duiske Abbey you can also see –
Cheevers Memorial – Thomas Cheevers was killed by Crown Forces in June 1798, some days after the Battle of Ross. He was captain of the Graiguenamanagh Rebels.
Akylthawn & Ballyogan Crosses – dating from the 8th and 9th Century.
Take your time and soak in what Graiguenamanagh has to offer!