Graignamanagh is a real charmer of a town. Built on the banks of the Barrow River. It first came to prominence when the Cistercians built a monastery there in the 8th century. The monks lasted hundreds of years and the river continues to flow. The old church recently restored is a wonder to behold. There isn’t a single nail used in the construction of the roof. Up the street is Duiske Glass and there are plenty of little shops to browse through.
Leaving historic Graignamanagh behind we will follow the banks of the beautiful river. Our first encounter with different times on the river is the double lock at Ballykennan. The Guinness barges used to pass here regularly as they dropped off great stout and ale to the communities along the route. On the other side of the island is the old Eel weir which was operated commercially up to 50 years ago. Nowadays it sits idle waiting for the go ahead from the E.U. powers that be. It could be a few more years yet before the stocks are back to what they should be. As you cycle along the navigation canal keep a sharp eye out for the kingfisher. He will certainly be watching out for you and if you are really lucky you will see him dive into the depths to retrieve a tasty snack.
Further up along is Clashganna, once a hive of activity with barges dropping off and picking up goods morning, noon and night. The warehouses are now gone and tastefully replaced with public facilities to support the growing numbers of adventurers who canoe and kayak, cycle and walk on this section. If you are passing by in autumn you can pick some plums on the adjacent island.
Heading north, watch out for the Coollawn – a goods barge that was thrown up onto the opposite bank by a major flood in 1947. There it will remain testament to the occasional power of the river. After passing Ballingrane Lock we enter the estate of the McMurrough – Kavanaghs. Dermot McMorrough once the high King of Leinster held court here and his descendants still control the domain over 1000 years later. This is a beautiful tranquil area full of indigenous trees like old oaks and ash and a choir of birdsong will lull you along. The charming old Borris Lock house marks the end of the estate and from there you cycle on the Ballytiglea Bridge.
Take a detour here should you wish to visit Borris village. The old granite cottages, the formal and impressive entrance to the estate, the old pubs and the town park are a real throwback in time.
Back on the river, the trail back to Goresbridge continues through lush green countryside. You can expect a few more old lock-keepers, some old period houses and a log cabin or two. Keep an eye out again for the kingfishers along this section and also the plum and apple trees enroute. The nine arch span of the bridge is a very scenic welcome and a fitting end to your day.
Journey time by bike is approx. 1.5 to 2 hrs.