The Carlow 800 festival kicks off this week, celebrating all things Carlow Castle related. The festival is part of the nationwide programme of events Heritage Week, which will see counties across Ireland re-discover their roots.
Of course I am particularly looking forward to the Carlow 800 festival. 800 refers to the 800 years since Carlow Castle was first built. Sadly only part of the castle remains today. Ironically the reason for the partial destruction of the castle is similar to the reason I feel Carlow Castle is not the significant presence it should be in Carlow Town.
In the 1800′s a leasee of the castle undertook some badly planned reconstruction resulting in the destruction of a large part of the castle. Roll forward 200 years and further bad planning has hidden the historic structure from the Carlow skyline and perhaps the minds of locals. Characterless, modern developments jutting into the sky that will be incapable of surviving a fraction of Carlow Castles’ lifespan surround the castle and nearby bridge. Access to castle is via two understated roads. It is almost as if the once powerful presence is shying away, no longer wanted by its surroundings.
‘Medieval Town’ is a phrase often used to attract tourists. It is rarely a phrase used in relation to Carlow Town. The Carlow 800 festival is a chance to tell the world about our medieval history but it is also a chance for locals to restore Carlow Castle to its former glory as a centre piece for the town. Learn its history, appreciate its age and ensure it lives long into the future.