CARLOW, the county town of Co. Carlow, Ireland, on the navigable river Barrow. Pop. of urban district (1901) 6513. It is 56 m. S.W. of Dublin by the Great Southern & Western railway. The castle (supposed to have been founded by Hugh de Lacy, appointed governor of Ireland in 1179, but sometimes attributed to King John), situated on an eminence overlooking the river, is still a chief feature of attraction in the general view of the town, although there is not much of the original building left. It consisted of a hollow quadrangle, with a massive round tower at each angle. The principal buildings are the Roman Catholic College of St Patrick (1793), a plain but spacious building in a picturesque park adjoining the Roman Catholic cathedral of the diocese of Kildare and Leighlin; the Protestant parish church, with a handsome steeple of modern erection; the court-house, where the assizes are held, an octagonal stone building with a handsome Ionic portico; and other county buildings. The cathedral, in the Perpendicular style, has a highly ornamented west front, and a monument to Bishop James Doyle (d. 1834). The Wellington Bridge over the river Barrow connects Carlow with the suburb of Graigue. Two m. N. E. of the town is one of the finest cromlechs in Ireland, and 3 m. to the west is the notable church, of Norman and pre-Norman date, of Killeshin in Queen’s county. The industries of Carlow consist of brewing and flour-milling, and a considerable trade is carried on in the sale of butter and eggs.
Carlow was of early importance. In the reign of Edward III. the king’s exchequer was removed thither, and £500, a large sum at that period, applied towards surrounding the town with a strong wall. In the early part of the reign of Queen Elizabeth the castle was taken, and the town burned by the Irish chieftain, Rory Oge O’More. When summoned to surrender by Ireton, the Commonwealth general, during the war of 1641, Carlow submitted without resistance. In the insurrection of 1798 the castle was attacked by an undisciplined body of insurgents. They were speedily repulsed, and suffered severe loss, no quarter being given; and, in the confusion of their flight, many of the insurgents took refuge in houses, which the king’s troops immediately set on fire. Carlow obtained a charter of incorporation as early as the 13th century, and was reincorporated, with enlarged privileges, by James I. The corporation, which was styled “The Sovereign, Free Burgesses and Commonalty of the Borough of Catherlogh,” was authorized to return two members to the Irish parliament. The town returned one member to the Imperial parliament until 1885.