Barrow river greenway
Enjoy an afternoon stroll, a day out or even a restful week’s holiday exploring Ireland’s loveliest river, with something of interest at every turn on this 200-year-old towpath. This guide has 2 hours of information and stories along the way, among them: the ancient kings of Leinster, the Devil’s eyebrow, the miniature cathedral of St Laserian, and the noisy Grand Prix of 1903. This is the perfect companion for anyone walking or cycling the Barrow Way, or canoeing or cruising the River Barrow navigation and Grand Canal line. Available as an app and a free MP3 album.
Try a sample: the 1903 Grand Prix, Athy
Contents/How to use
We have 2-hours of stories, song and information in 35 audio tracks for each section of the canal and river way. Each track lasts about 3-6 minutes, and covers about 5-8 km of the way. See the 35 stops on this Google map.
You can start at any point on the route, spend an hour or a week, and explore in any direction (for simplicity, the tracks are numbered from the top at Lowtown in Co Kildare) — or enjoy the stories from the comfort of your own armchair.
Barrow Way route and maps
The greenway stretches 114 km from Lowtown, in the heart of Ireland, to delightful St Mullins where the river becomes tidal. The towpath, built in the late 1770s, passes historic villages, ruined castles, and countryside home to kingfishers and otters.
The first 46 km to Athy are by the canal, the second 64 are by the Barrow River. Nearly all is on a gentle towpath and off-road, suitable for all ages. Maps: Waterways Ireland official guide to the Barrow Navigation. Download: Irish Trails 10 free maps for the waymarked trail. Buy: Barrow Valley & Blackstairs map from local mapping experts, East-West Mapping.
Walk, cycle, canoe or cruise
You can walk or cycle, canoe or cruise the Barrow way, and hire boats and bikes along the way. Cycling the Barrow way: You can cycle the full way, but note that the surface in places is grassy and can be muddy, and on the canal section there are half a dozen gates where you will need to lift your bike under/over the barrier.
Canoeing and boating on the Barrow: anyone putting a boat in the river should consult the official Waterways Ireland Guide to the Barrow Navigation, which has navigation maps and other useful information such as contact details for lock-keepers.
Tourist information: Barrow Way
While you’re here, why not take a tour of a Barrow brewery, visit one of the many great houses and gardens, or an early monastic site? Then you can enjoy local food, and stay for a night on the estate owned by one of Ireland’s historic clans. All the information you need about what to see and do, events, and places to stay along the way, are on the official Barrow River website.
Places to stay: You’ll find accommodation in Monasterevin, Athy, Carlow, Leighlinbridge, Bagenalstown, Borris, Graiguenamanagh and St Mullins. We can personally recommend The Lord Bagenal hotel in Leighlinbridge, and the Waterside Guesthouse in Graiguenamanagh.
Getting there: there is public transport to various access points including trains to Athy, Carlow and Bagenalstown, and buses to near Lowtown, and to Graiguenamanagh.
Official Barrow audio guide
This app and audio guide is brought to you in association with Waterways Ireland, guardians of Ireland’s inland waterways. Find details of their Barrow navigation here. Studio recording and sound engineering was by Tinpot Productions Dublin. Location recordings were by Julien Clancy.