Borris (An Bhuiríos) is a charming Georgian granite village on the river Barrow
Borris is a charming Georgian granite village tucked away in the fertile river barrow valley, with the ultimate gateway to both the Blackstairs Mountains and Mount Leinster.
Its old granite houses and Victorian storefronts have largely been preserved. The majority of the town’s structures are located on a steeply rising main street on the north side, which are dominated by Borris house’s massive demesne walls. This house was built in Tudor style and is indeed the home of the Kavanagh family, who are directly descendant from the former Celtic Kings of Leinster the Mc Morrough Kavanagh dynasty.
Borris lace became popular for its exquisite, intricate designs and made its way to beautiful homes as far away as Russia in the 1800s. This would not have been possible if it were not for the towns Landlord Arthur Mc Morrough Kavanagh who built a sawmill and a flourishing lace-making industry.
Arthur also initiated and oversaw the construction of the magnificent 16-arch viaduct at the town’s lower end. This carries the now-defunct Great Southern and Western railway line.
The Sacred Heart Church, built in 1820 with a granite exterior painted with limestone and incorporating a Romanesque style doorway, is a beautiful feature of the town.
Borris has many attractions to offer, and some of these include the Borris Viaduct Walk which takes you along the majestic sixteen arch viaduct which offers stunning views of Mount Leinster and the Blackstairs Mountains. Borris House which is only open on certain days during the year and Clashganny Lock.
Activities in the area include walking the south Leinster and Barrow ways, paragliding and hang-gliding on Mount Leinster, canoeing on the river Barrow or taking in some of the many festivals and events including the award winning Festival of Writing and Ideas.
Things to See & Do in Borris
Situated on the Barrow Valley in Carlow, Borris House is a historic Tudor mansion that was built in the 1700s. The Kavanagh family, once kings of Leinster, still retains ownership of the house today. The 12th-century Kavanagh Charter Horn is still on display. The house was badly damaged in 1798 but was painstakingly restored in 1820 by Richard and William Vitruvius Morrison. It’s a popular spot for tourists who enjoy the famous tapestries, antique furniture, carpets, porcelains, silverware and paintings. Architectural highlights include the Chapel of St. Moling and the ornate Stapleton ceilings.
A charitable foundation was founded at Borris House by Lady Harriet Kavanagh to provide employment for the women of the village during the Great Famine of Ireland in 1847 — today’s visitors will hear this famous story and see a small selection of Borris Lace. The new Lace Garden uses the traditional Borris lace as a reference for both its design and colour palette. Its unique use of symbols and shapes from this lace are balanced with a modern white colour scheme.
Borris Viaduct in County Carlow is a breath-taking limestone bridge, built in the 1860s. The viaduct was built to serve as a main route for the National Railways of Ireland (later the Great Southern & Western Railway). The historic railway viaduct was built during the mid-19th century (c. 1860). It was conceived and executed by a prominent civil engineer of the time, William Richard le Fanu (1816 – 1894). Passenger services ceased in 1931, but goods traffic continued until 1947. On the 1st January 1963, the line closed for good. It had been 108 years from the time the first sod was cut near Borris.
The Borris Viaduct Walk
“A bridge to the past and a link to the future” is one of the quotes along the Borris Viaduct walk.
The viaduct has been developed by Carlow County Council to make it safer and more accessible. The council has installed new signs, with interpretative panels adding to the walkway’s historical significance. It is a family friendly walk, suitable for buggies and is serviced by two car parks, one at each end of the viaduct. The length of the viaduct walk is approx. 500m each way but if you walk below the arches near the river, you can extend the walk a further 500m. At the start of the walk, there is a small woodland area that sits below the bridge. There are picnic benches available to sit and enjoy the beautiful scenery.
St. Molings Route – Driving Trail
The Barrow River is the most prominent landmark in this trail which covers the southern part of Co. Carlow. Since historical times, Carlow has been shaped by its rivers. As a result, there are many prehistoric sites and early Christian settlements throughout the area. The trail is 77km (44 miles) long. The trail route begins at the famous Borris House.
The Step House Hotel
The Step House Hotel is a 200-year-old dower house of the McMorrough Kavanagh Estate. The 4-star boutique hotel is located in the heart of Borris. It is a beautiful Georgian townhouse with deep archways and vaulted ceilings. The award-winning Cellar Restaurant provides a classic and intimate setting for guest dining, with beautiful wooden floors and vaulted ceilings.
Killoughternane Church is a 10th-century Celtic Christian church located 6km from Borris. It was built on the remains of a timber church said to have been built in the 5th century AD by St. Fortiarnán. Also known as the white church, the ruin is small and roofless, measuring approximately 5.5m in length and 3.5m in width. It features a rectangular baptismal font in the northeast corner.
Borris is home to Mount Leinster Rangers GAA Club, which was founded in 1988 with the amalgamation of 3 parish teams: Borris, Ballymurphy and Rathanna.
Borris Golf Club, founded in 1907, is one of the oldest clubs in Ireland. The beautifully designed 9-hole course makes for a unique experience. The surrounding countryside provides breathtaking views that are unexpected and always memorable. This fairway course is maintained to an exceptional standard. With a fully automatic irrigation system and the environmentally friendly sand base greens, this course will challenge even the most seasoned golfer. Its well-balanced plants and diverse tree species make it a joy to play for all.
The Borris Athletic Sports were inaugurated in 1872 by the Borris Cricket Club.
The local soccer club is Borris AFC.
Blackstairs Eco Trails, an award-winning Eco tourism business, is located 5kms from Borris. Visitors can explore the 5-acre wooded area where they can discover all sorts of wildlife. Scattered throughout the area are plenty of trails for visitors to stroll, learn about nature, and relax in the park. A small lake is easy to access, perfect for swimming and canoeing, and provides stunning views. There is also a beautiful park with winding paths, flower meadows and an Old Rose Garden to explore.
Borris Food and Craft Market is a popular market full of locally sourced produce, handcrafted goods, and a good selection of locally crafted artisanal foodstuffs. The market boasts a variety of products for sale from local artists and craftspeople who have been established in the area for many years.
The Store is located in the Gate Lodge of Borris House, which houses a fantastic assortment of local artisan crafts, art and craft products. The store stocks a wide range of high-quality items including varied types of jewellery, candles, leather goods, beeswax products, jams and cordials.
It may be a cliché, but the Irish pub is very much alive and well in Borris. Whether you end up in O’Shea’s, Joyce’s or Bob’s Bar, you’ll get an authentic Irish experience complete with warm fires, warm welcomes and warm drinks.