The quiet village of Ballinabrannagh is surrounded by the lush green landscape of Ireland’s Ancient East. The name Ballinabrannagh comes from the Irish, ‘Baile na mBreathnach’, meaning ‘Town of the Walshes’.
St. Fintan’s Catholic Church (completed in 1830) in the centre of the village, is a fine example of an early 19th century, ‘barn-style’ building. In the graveyard is the gravestone of nurse Margaret Kehoe, famous as the first civilian casualty of the 1916 Rising. She nursed in the South Dublin Union, one of the sites occupied by the Volunteers and the Citizen Army in the Rising of 1916 and was killed while attending to one of the volunteers. Also buried in the graveyard is John Conwill, schoolmaster to a young John Tyndall. To the left of St. Fintan’s Church, the site of the tiny schoolhouse that the famous scientist John Tyndall attended in the 1830s can still be seen.
Tyndall, a renowned physicist, invented the Light Pipe and his work in the 1860s opened up the debate on the greenhouse effect. He was the first to explain why the sky is blue and many scientific phenomena are called after him including the Tyndall effect, Tyndallisation and Tyndall scattering.
To the north of the village, the atmospheric remains of Cloydagh Graveyard can be found. Clogrennane has been an important centre for limestone quarrying and lime production for centuries. A beautiful example of an early lime-making facility with five kilns, dating from 1816, can be found there. Today, Clogrennane Lime manufactures products for use in agriculture, construction, pharmaceutical and environmental sectors. Clogrennane Wood features a looped walk which is 3.5km in length. The walk on forest roads includes magnificent views of Carlow town and the River Barrow. The area is an old wood and has had forestry cover present since the 1800s. The old pump wall at Keating’s Cross was the main water supply for the people from Ballinabrannagh for over 100 years.
To the south at Milford, a five minute walk from here, the remains of what was once a thriving flour milling industry in the 19th century can be found. Established by the Alexander family in 1790, the mills quickly became the most extensive in Ireland.
Electricity was generated from Milford in 1891, making Carlow the first inland town in either Ireland or Britain to receive hydro-electric power. The largest of the buildings was used as a tannery, employing ninety people before it was destroyed by fire in 1965. The station still contributes to the National Grid today. This idyllic setting features a woodland area and is a haven for wildlife, including otters, heron and kingfishers.
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