Friday, 22 August 2014

The Barrow Walk

Thursday 22nd May.
After a late night caused by the sounds of "Gangnam Style" and the like coming from the bar next door, I awoke to a slightly overcast but otherwise fine morning.  My plan for the day was to take a walk along the Barrow Way from Athy down past Ardreigh to another old mill at Levitstown, a distance of around seven or eight kilometres.  The Levitstown mill was also a Haughton mill at one time, owned by Frederick Haughton, a nephew of Alfred's.  There is nothing left of the mill at Ardreigh, but I wanted to see the area.

Ardreigh Mill 1861
from Sarah Haughton's sketchbook

The Barrow Way is a National Waymarked Trail extending a distance of 100 kilometres from Robertstown in northern county Kildare to St. Mullins in county Carlow. The trail follows the old tow-paths along the banks of the Barrow River and Grand Canal.

Cromaboo Bridge & White's Castle, Athy

I set off, first heading to the shops to get some lunch supplies, and as I walked over the Cromaboo Bridge, I noticed a canal boat tied up at the dock with a group of people standing around.  When I returned from the shop fifteen minutes later to begin my walk, the boat had gone.

I walked along the trail towards Ardreigh, enjoying the solitude of the morning.  As I approached Ardreigh Lock, there was the boat I had seen earlier, just about to navigate the Lock.  So an added bonus for me to see it in operation. 

Ardreigh Lock

I got into conversation with the boat owner, Clifford Reid, who was interested in my historical association to the Ardreigh area.  He was able to point out to me where the mill had originally stood, and directed me to the mill-race, which is all that remains to indicate the industry which once took place here.  After watching the boat pass through the lock and set off down-river, I wandered around the area and took a few photos.

Ardreigh Mill-race

From our previous trip to Ireland, I had been led to believe that the original Ardreigh House where Alfred & Henrietta lived and raised their family, was no longer standing, so I didn't investigate on this trip.  Unfortunate in the extreme, as I have discovered since arriving home that Ardreigh House is still standing and occupied by a local historian.  And here I was, standing within metres of it, and not knowing it!

So, off down the trail again.  Sections of the trail were well-maintained, while other portions were overgrown.  It was an easy walk, as the pathway is basically flat all the way.  Enjoyed seeing the birdlife and wild flowers along the banks.  I passed a couple of men on a fishing expedition, and a lady walking her dog, but other than that I had the trail to myself.

Arriving at Levitstown, there was the river boat tied up again, and the passengers enjoying lunch on the riverbank. They invited me to join them for a sausage and a very welcome cup of tea.  Turns out they were a group of men from the Athy Mens Shed on a day outing to Levitstown and back.

Levitstown Mill

After lunch, Clifford asked if I would like to travel back to Athy on the boat with them. Well, the boat clearly didn't travel very much faster than I could walk, but it seemed like a good opportunity to do something different, so I accepted readily.  Seriously, accepting a ride in a boat with 12 strange men is not something I would EVER consider doing at home in my ordinary life, but hey, that's what holidays are for!  And what a wise decision it turned out to be, because not 15 minutes along the way, the heavens opened and down came an absolute deluge, accompanied by thunder and lightening.  Very grateful for the shelter of the boat, without which I would have been one very wet and miserable traveller!

Back in Athy

Meeting up with Clifford proved to be beneficial in more ways, as he later sent me a copy of a photo he had of the Ardreigh mill, and also put me in contact with the local historian who now lives in Ardreigh House.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable and productive day!


  1. You must have been the highlight of their day also... imagine the stories in the pub, how one young Aussie lady joined them on their canal trip... Great that you have the photo and the contact now.

  2. I remember the day well .I was one of the guys on the trip with cliff.great to hear that cliff kept in contact with you and put you on the right path.if anyone would know it would be cliff.hope you had a great time in Ireland.

  3. Delighted to of met you , that was some downpour of rain on the way back to Athy.
    hope you enjoyed the rest of your holiday

    All the lads from the Men's Shed

  4. Thanks lads! It was a great day, and I had wonderful month in Ireland. Definitely be back again some day! All the best to you all.