Dunleckney Manor, on the outskirts of the town was the seat of the Bagenals for over 300 years. Parts of the original house, dating from 1612 are incorporated in the present Tudor-Gothic structure, which was designed by Daniel Robertson and built circa 1845. Limestone and granite were locally sourced to provide stonework of the finest quality. In addition to the ashlar work there are inventive decorative relief panels and the striking oriel window above the main entrance.
Bagenalstown Railway Station
The arrival of the railway in 1846 rejuvenated the town, and its neo-classical style makes it one of the finest stations in Ireland. Attributed to William Deane Butler it is constructed of limestone and granite and is a seven bay, two storey construction in an Italianate villa style. Today the building still retains its charm in a largely unaltered state.
Plans were made to extend the line to Kilkenny by the end of 1847 which included the erection of a viaduct over the River Barrow at Fenniscourt near Bagenalstown. The viaduct was designed by Sir John MacNeill and consisted of five arches and two land arches. All arches are semi-circular and of 30 feet span each. 16,000 tons of the finest local limestone was needed to complete the project.
Bagenalstown courthouse was designed by the Scottish-born architect, Daniel Robertson for Walter Bagenal circa 1835. The construction of the courthouse formed part of Bagenals overall plan to mirror the city of Versailles in northern France. Shortly after he had made an impressive start his efforts became frustrated due to the re-routing of the main road away from the town. The courthouse occupies a raised position overlooking the town and the river Barrow.
Despite its small Scale it provides an important insight to the aspirations of Lord Bagenal. It is dominated by a pedimented Ionic portico that unusually faces away from the town.
The milling industry has a long history in Bagenalstown, dating from the 1680s when Henry Rudkin a former officer of Oliver Cromwell established the first of a series of mills. The River Barrow was vital in the development of this industry and Rudkin also constructed a weir to raise the water level and a large millpond to feed the millrace, which is now the canal. The Ordnance Survey in 1837, wrote of “the very extensive flour mills of Samuel Crosthwaite Esq.” which had been built up from the original Rudkins Mills that can be seen in ruins today. The mill was later bought by Brown and Crosthwait and the mill was extended further down to a much larger mill. Interestingly, descendents of the original Henry Rudkin, Margaret and Henry Rudkin, developed a bakery business from their kitchen at Pepperidge Farm in Fairfield, Connecticut into a multi-million dollar corporation spread across the United States.
Just 3.5 km east of Bagenalstown this ruined castle dates to the 14th century. The castle – as striking as it is unusual – comprises of a courtyard about 80 feet square, surrounded by granite walls, 8 feet thick and 20 feet high. Square towers project from three sides while a formidable gatehouse is the feature of the fourth.
The interior of the castle is now bare but originally featured two-storey structures built up against the inner walls. The castle was most probably built by Roger Bigod or by a member of the Carew family.
Access: direct from the R724 Bagenalstown – Fenagh road via small timber footbridge.
St. Mary’s Church of Ireland
The Church of Ireland group of parishes that serves the Bagenalstown area is called the Dunleckney group because of its history. Originally the Church of Ireland church stood next to the catholic church at Dunleckney, which can still be seen by the ruins. Even then, during penal times, the relationship between the local churches was one of friendship and trust.
The opening of the canal and the Barrow Navigation, in the 1790’s caused the town to grow fast. The community outgrew Dunleckney church and, as with St. Andrew’s moved into a new Church in the town. The town’s design partially reflected, and still reflects, Walter Bagenals’s dream of a small Versailles in Ireland, planned around the river frontage. St. Mary’s church in the town was accordingly completed and opened in 1844.
St. Andrew’s Catholic Church
St. Andrew’s Catholic Church was opened on Christmas Day in 1820, on a site provided by the Newton family successors to the Bagenals. In 1893 it was renovated almost to what it is today by the addition of the steeple. It was opened by the Bishop of Waterford in October 1893, The Bishops of Kildare and Leighlin blessed the steeple.