County Carlow is one of twelve inland counties of Ireland in the southeast and is part of the province of Leinster. The County is named after the town of Carlow. Its greatest length is about 29 miles from north to south and its breadth from east to west is about 20.5 miles with an area of about 346 square miles (896.1 sq km).
Prior to the twelfth century, the County was part of the Ui Cinsealaigh territory, consisting of Carlow and parts of Wicklow and Wexford. The Normans invaded Carlow in the twelfth century and the land came into the possession of Strongbow, the Norman leader. The town of Carlow was an important Norman stronghold and was walled in 1361 to protect it from the neighboring Gaelic chieftains, who eventually captured the town in 1405. The County joined the Catholic Confederacy in 1641, which was defeated by Cromwell’s forces in 1650.
The Great Famine of 1845-1847 badly affected the County. The population fell from about 86,228 in 1841 to 68,078 in 1851. Ten thousand people died of starvation or other impacts of the Great Famine. The population continued to decrease reaching 34,476 in 1921. The population was 50,349 in 2006. Carlow is predominately Roman Catholic. In 1891, the percentage of Roman Catholic, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian and Methodist was 88.3%, 10.9%, 0.3% and 0.4%. Overtime, the Roman Catholics increased to 88.8% in 2006, while the Church of Ireland, Presbyterians and Methodists decreased to 4.3%, 0.2% and 0.2%, respectively, with other or no religions increasing to about 5%.
The county of Carlow is an inland county of the province of Leinster and is bounded by Wicklow, Wexford, Kilkenny, Laois, and Kildare.
The county is completely within the diocese of Leighlin. It is divided into the baronies of Carlow, Idrone East, Idrone West, St. Mullins North, St. Mullins South, Rathvilly, and Forth. The county contains the burough, market, and assize town of Carlow; the market and post-town of Tullow, Bagnalstown, and Leighlin-Bridge; the market-town of Hacketstown, and the post-twon of Clonegal. The largest villages in the county are Boris, Rathvilly, and the Royal Oak. The county courthouse and gaol are in Carlow.
The county itself comprises an area of 219,863 acres, of which almost 200,000 is cultivated land. Carlow is almost exclusively an agricultural district with grains being the major crop.
Information provided by the 1847 edition of Samuel Lewis' "Topographical Dictionary of Ireland."
General County Research Information
Further information about County Carlow is available at:
Doherty, Paul Martin. Tombstones of Some Irish Emigrants in the Catholic Cemetery at Andover, Massachussetts. Tombstones/Memorial Inscriptions including surname, Cully in 1865 and Lawler in 1870 of Co. Carlow. Article in The Irish Ancestor, vol. IV, no. 1. 1972 pages 23-26, Family History Library Ref. 941.5 B2i.
Civil Jurisdictions and Parish Research Information
Montague-Smith, Patrick. The Breretons of Carrigslaney, Co. Carlow and New Abbey Co. Kildare. Article has genealogy of the Breretons of Carrigslaney Co. Carlow and New Abbey Co. Kildare. covering years 1534-1899. Article found in The Irish Ancestor, vol.III.no1.1971 pages 10-26, Family History Ref. 941.5 B2i.
De Breffny, Brian. The Pembertons of Dublin. Pictures and Genealogy of Pemberton and descendants from the Pemberton Family Bible covering years 1731-1932. Article in The Irish Ancestor, vol. XI. no. 1. 1979, page 14-27, Family History Library Ref. 941.5 B2i v10-11