The Barrow Valley is one of Ireland’s best-kept secrets, comprising as it does an unspoiled passage through the South East’s most beautiful landscapes. Despite being the second longest river in Ireland, the River Barrow area is unknown to many visitors and that’s what makes it so special. This is the Ireland you yearned to see..

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Where is it? – Located roughly between Dublin and Kilkenny (one of Ireland’s favourite tourist routes) it’s the perfect place to discover some of South East Ireland’s unspoiled, hidden treasures in authentic Ireland. (from the M9 Motorway, bale out at Junction 6, head to Leighlinbridge village to begin your exploration). Location map is here.

Dick Warner at Altamont Gardens. Photo by James Burke

The late Dick Warner at Altamont Gardens.

“The most beautiful riverside walk in these islands”Dick Warner

Information & inspiration:

The judges of the Irish Times Best Day Out in Ireland competition 2015 selected the Barrow Way as one of the top five finest and impressive visitor attractions in the country. My top riverside picks: Milford, Leighlinbridge, Graiguenamanagh, ClashgannySt Mullins.

local walks, Borris, carlow, ireland

Local walks, Borris, Carlow, Barrow Valley, Ireland

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Autumn on the River Barrow is a special time – peaceful walks and lovely scenery.

Valerian growing by the river in Goresbridge

Valerian growing by the river in Goresbridge

St Mullins, Ireland, barrow valley

Roadside view near St Mullins

south east Ireland, river Barrow, 18th century cut stone bridge, wild flowers, Goresbridge. Photo by James Burke

18th century cut stone bridge with wild flowers at Goresbridge. All Photos by James Burke


The river lock at Tinnahinch Lower

About the river & Barrow Way walk The river was made navigable some three centuries ago by the addition of weirs, navigation canals and locks. These wide locks once allowed the safe transport on huge barges of grain, sugar beet, coal, porter and other more fragile goods. As elsewhere, the railways subsequently took much of the trade away from the river and it’s commercial traffic slowly declined.

Nowadays the river is a priceless resource for anglers, boatmen, kayakers, swimmers, walkers, cyclists, artists, photographers and wildlife enthusiasts. The locks have been restored, as has the Barrow Way – the former towpath for the earliest horse-drawn barges. You can choose to walk, cycle or travel by car on the roads between the many riverside towns and villages, each with a charm of their own, threaded like pearls on a silver necklace. You won’t see any jet skis or the like. Translations are on our Activities page

The Barrow Way at leighlinbridge, Carlow, Ireland

The Barrow Way at Leighlinbridge

Several of the navigation canal locks can only be reached on foot or by boat, which makes them all the more rewarding to discover. The wider Barrow Valley, away from the river, offers a chance to see authentic rural Ireland off the main tourist drag. As with much travel in Ireland, your journey is likely to be as pleasantly memorable as your destination. Stop to ask directions and you may meet some unforgettable people too – Bon Voyage !

map board, Borris village, County Carlow, Ireland,

map board, Borris village, County Carlow, Ireland,

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Translations are here


  • Fenniscourt Lock & Gordon Bennet Rally

See more photos here


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About barrowvalley.net

This website features the photography & writing of James Burke, who now lives locally and has been enchanted by the River Barrow since arriving some 17 years ago. All images & videos are copyright James Burke and are not for reproduction without written permission. High-res versions may be available for print so please address enquiries via the contact form

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Irish Blog Awards 2016 shortlisted, barrowvalley.net