Portarlington located on a bend on the river Barrow was founded in 1666 by Henry Bennett, Lord Arlington. In the late 17th early 18th centuries Portarlington was the Paris of the Midlands, where French, rather than Irish or English was often spoken on the streets. This was a result of the French Huguenots who settled here after escaping persecution in their native lands. Today, visitors can view houses built in the Huguenot style on French Church street and Patrick street.
Not far from Portarlington are the ruins of Lea Castle, a Norman fortress that was seized and held by the O’ Dempseys until the mid-1600s, when Cromwellians blew up the fortifications which was then being used as a mint by stuffing the stairways with explosives.
Arlington House, local community members gave this historic building a facelift as part of their entry for RTÉ’s Dirty Old Towns competition, stonework is now revealed at the front of the building, with the addition of a bright red door, clock and faux windows, while the sides received a fresh coat of lime render.