The townlands of Ballyellen and Tomdarragh encompass an area of 1.5 square miles and are situated along County Carlow’s border with County Kilkenny in the heart of Ireland’s Ancient East. The townland is one of 20 in the Civil Parish of Ballyellen and one of 603 townlands in County Carlow. Alan Beg, a thirteenth century landowner, is most likely responsible for the name of the townland as he is recorded as having granted lands for the construction of nearby Duiske Abbey. Remnants of the past can be found throughout the surrounding landscape including a standing stone, an ancient ringfort, a bawn, evidence of an old field system and a ruined medieval church.
The River Barrow runs along the townland’s western border. At 192km, it is the second longest river in Ireland. The Barrow rises in the Slieve Bloom Mountains in County Laois in Ireland’s Ancient East, and flows through Counties Kildare, Carlow, Kilkenny and Wexford before meeting the Rivers Nore and Suir, and flowing into the Celtic Sea at Waterford Harbour.
Today, the ‘Barrow Way’ provides a popular 114km walking route through a peaceful and lush landscape using the 200-year old towpaths that still exist along the river today.
Situated on the other side of the river in County Kilkenny, the town of Goresbridge is named after the bridge which was built by local landlord, Sir Ralph Gore in 1756.
A stone memorial on the bridge marks the Battle of Goresbridge which took place during the 1798 Rebellion when the United Irishmen sought to overthrow British rule in Ireland.