The Barrow. Our River Your Journey




Goresbridgewas named after the Gore family who lived in Barrowmount House, they were local landlords who came from Lecum in Hertfordshire after receiving grants of confiscated land. This attractive bridge across the River Barrow was built by Sir Ralph Gore in 1756 and is one of the longest masonry bridges on the River Barrow.¬†Goresbridge quickly became a market and postal town. Transport infrastructure was improved when the barrow line of the grand canal was opened in the 1790’s. This provided an opportunity for trade and encouraged industrial production in the area. This nine arched river bridge with granite ashlar arch stones, known as Newbridge during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, created a vital link between counties Carlow and Kilkenny. It also has a flight of ten cut-stone steps leading to the river bank. Its significance as a strategic crossing point was central to the events of the morning of the 23rd of June 1798. Wexford insurgents who were intending to march through the village were met by Wexford Militia. While trying to defend the bridge and prevent the river’s crossing by the rebels, the cavalry were defeated. Twenty eight soldiers were captured while the remainder fled to Kilkenny. Today a carved granite memorial stands adjacent to the bridge as a reminder of the battle of Goresbridge


Goresbridge Early Economy

In the early nineteenth century the economy of the town which was mainly centred on food products was thriving. The village was surrounded by a number of corn mills, which used the river for power. Ballyellen Mill, which was on the site of the present Ballyellen Lime Works, was built on the river in 1789. The mill also had a small malt house attached to it, this provided malt for breweries in large population centres such as Dublin and Waterford. There was also a small brewery on the east side of Barrack street, which would have catered for local demand. Tillage farming was of major importance with the production of corn, wheat, oats, barley and potatoes in the area. There was a salt house and a tannery, which was located on the south side of the Barrow. A weekly market was held in addition to four fairs a year in the enclosed fair green at the western end of the town.  However as the nineteenth century progressed the population and economy began to decline. By 1884 the weekly market had finished although the number of fair days rose to eight per annum. The population also declined from 634 inhabitants in 1837 to 365 by 1885.


Goresbridge Churches

During this period of growth in the town, two churches were built. The Roman Catholic Church was built circa 1813 by the Rev. Lewis Moore, who was the parish priest of Graiguenamanagh. Built on the site of an earlier chapel, the Holy Trinity Church was later renovated in 1933 with the addition of the three porches as a commemoration of the Diamond Sacerdotal Jubilee of the Rev. R. O’Brien, who had established the local national school in 1905. Adjacent to the church, the Bridgidine Order established a convent in 1853. the large convent complex became a prominent structure of social and ecclesiastical significance within the the town.

St. George’s Church was constructed to a typical Gothic Revival design. A survey of 1814 makes reference to am impressive steeple, which was attributed to the prolific architect Sir Francis Johnson. There is no evidence to suggest that the steeple was ever constructed. Instead the Church like many of the time was built with a three-stage pinnacled entrance tower. A mural burial slab dedicated to Arthur Gore of Barrowmount, who died in December 1721, was moved to this site when the church at Powerstown fell into Disuse.