Canoeing the Mighty River Barrow
Experience a Canoeing Ireland adventure and take on the mighty river Barrow!
Along the way you will be passing through magnificent wild rural countryside, encountering many weirs which you can shoot or go around (your choice). Also you will travel along some of the old navigation routes used by the Guinness barges of the past and see many of the old lock houses.
Typical wildlife includes Herons, Kingfishers, dippers, duck, swans cormorants and egrets and I could go on ...... did I mention the otters.
Starting below the beautiful 9 arch bridge in Goresbridge in Co. Kilkenny your tour kicks off with a great bit of excitement as you shoot the weir below the village.
The river then gently turns through a sweeping right hand bend as the 200 year old Barrow navigation lock house comes into view. Lower Ballyellen lock house is located just across the river from Barrowmount House - the home of the Gore family from 1710 to 1863. Sir Ralph Gore built the bridge in 1756 and the town was named after the family.
Paddling on through serene and majestic pine woods on the right and the old horse towpath on our left we soon arrive at Ballytiglea Weir. The weir itself is low enough but provides a stunning backdrop to a contempory wooden hunting lodge which looks on from across the flood plain.
Once over this man made dam which backs up the water level to maintain the navigation your next river section is reasonably shallow. The water squeezes between Granite boulders as it drops towards a left hand turn and enters a more agricultural hinterland. Up ahead is Ballytiglea Bridge - a five arch granite structure which carries the Borris to Graignamanagh road over the Barrow River. The exact date of this bridge is unknown but it was on Taylers and Skinners road map of 1783.
We will shortly be entering the Borris Demence but first we have to shoot the weir and negotiate the rapids below. The safer drops are first leaving the high drop for those of you with a little more appetite for adrenaline further along. You will be going down the rapids before you know it - watch out for the plum trees all along the left bank. No really you should try and avoid them or you might take a dip. Anyone wishing to avoid this whole ordeal can of course take the navigation channel and meet up with the river further down where the river is placid and winds it way through the quiet oak woods of the Borris house estate.
Borris demesne is the seat of the MacMorrough Kavanagh family, descendants of the high kings of Leinster. One of the best known members of this family was Art OG MacMorrough Kavanagh a fine solider who waged incessant warfare against Richard II and his English forces in Ireland. He had many close escapes from capture, and finally died in New Ross in 1417 from poison administered it is said by a jealous woman. He was buried at St. Mullins and his funeral procession was said to have stretched the 6 miles from New Ross to the Graveyard.
The Incredible Mr. Kavanagh
It is rare in itself to find a story of coming out of Ireland about a good landlord. But such a story becomes legendary when the landlord-hero happens to be a man born without arms or legs! Starting life with those two staggering handicaps, in the mid-19th century, when medical science was still primitive, Arthur Kavanagh lived a more than normal life. Armless he wrote letters and diaries, he drew and painted. Legless, he rode horseback across Europe and Asia and became a skilled huntsman. His adventures in the far reaches of Russia, Kurdistan, Persia and India would have challenged the resources of an able-bodied man.
He was a skilled yachtsman and at the age of thirty-five, having become a member of the British parliament he frequently moored his small sailing craft outside the House of Commons having navigated the Barrow, Irish Sea, English Channel and Thames Estuary.
With none of the advantages of plastic surgery or artificial limbs, Arthur relied on nobody but himself to help him surmount his disabilities. The story of The Incredible Mr. Kavanagh is truly an inspiration for all.
Moving on we will shortly be stopping at Bun na h'aibhinn where the mountain river enters the Barrow. Pulling the canoes up on the bank it’s a short walk within the Borris estate to the final resting place of the incredible Mr Kavanagh who died on Christmas day 1889.
From here its a short walk to up to Borris House where you will be greeted and brought on a tour of the house by a member of the Kavanagh family. (This must be pre-arranged) This beautiful and well maintained house has had many famous names as long stay guests such as Mick Jagger and the Stones, Nick Cave, The Cranberries and various other members of the music fraternity.
It has also been the venue of quite a few society weddings. The tour is very interesting as the house has many fascinating stories to tell of its sometimes troubled history.
The paddle through the ancient estate is quickly followed by some excellent, playful white water with the weir at Clashganny and the double drops at Ballykeenan weirs and rapids.
Have a pint in O Sheas then Joyces the Daltons the back to Joyces and back to O Sheas again and then finally the last on or as we say in Ireland "DEOCH an DORAS".
Starting where you finished at Clashaganny. Nothing like a quick dip to clear your horizons, right?
Follow along after all this excitement with a paddle through the pine forest – as you make a quiet entrance into historic Graignamanagh.
A very old eel weirs is your last obstacle. Situated in the middle of the river it channels the water between two walls where the eel cage was lowered into the flow nightly. This type of structure was used extensively throughout the major rivers in Ireland to harvest both fish and eels and was a valuable and profitable asset to any family who operated one.
Our route ends in Graiguenamanagh, a picturesque abbey town and a popular boating and craft centre. Overlooking the River Barrow is Duiske Abbey founded by Norman monks from Stanley.
Abbey, Wiltshire in 1204. The "Early English" design boasts a lofty nave and it is the largest of Irish Cistercian monastery churches. Stop off here and have a look around and a bit of lunch. There is a beautiful old abbey and some very quaint shops and pubs.
Our Canoeing adventure has plenty of thrills and spills which offers the ideal activity for a hen or Kilkenny Stag. It’s one of the best Team Building activities in Ireland and sure to create an idyllic day out on the water.
Hope to see you very soon!