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Baltinglass, from Church Hill
Location in Ireland
|Elevation||118 m (387 ft)|
|Irish Grid Reference|
Baltinglass, historically known as Baltinglas (Irish: Bealach Conglais, meaning "Road of Cúglas"), is a town in south-west County Wicklow, Ireland. It is located on the River Slaney near the border with County Carlow and County Kildare, on the N81 road. Its Irish name means "the way of Conglas", Conglas being a member of the mythological warrior collective, the Fianna. A previous Irish-language name for the village, bringing to mind its monastic past, was Mainistir an Bhealaigh.
The surrounding hills of the area is rich in archaeological and historical sites, including the Rathcoran passage structure. On the highest point of the Baltinglass hill, north-east of the village, the passage grave from the stone age whose outer walls are finished in chalk not native to the area, is said on bright days to be visible from Kildare's Curragh 48 km (30 mi) away. To the north end of the village on the weir of the River Slaney lies the ruins of an ancient monastery, Baltinglass Abbey, that has had many additions over the centuries; the original church is said to date from around 700 A.D.
The medieval Viscounts Baltinglass were from the Hiberno-Norman Eustace family, who also founded Ballymore Eustace. Their estates later passed to their cousin Sir Maurice Eustace, Lord Chancellor of Ireland 1660-1665. Sir Maurice did much to promote the development of the town, building a church, a school and a bridge, and encouraging new settlers.
The town centre mainly lies east of the river, along Main Street and ending at Market and Weavers Square. West of the river, the town is located around the N81/R747 crossroads, along Edward Street, Mill Street and Belan Street. Quinn's superstore is a landmark site on Mill Street to the North of the town.
The population of the town has grown considerably in recent years to its current population of 2,061 people and it is expected to reach 3,000 by the year 2016.
The town has a number of natural, archaeological and built heritage sites; such as, Baltinglass Hills, Baltinglass Abbey and St. Mary's Church, the River Slaney Special Area of conservation and a large number of buildings of architectural and historical merit, many of which are located in the town centre. The town's rich and historic heritage makes a significant contribution to its distinct character.
The town has also featured in film and theatre being the location for the 1974 movie of Brian Friels play “Philadelphia here I come” starring Donal McCann and Siobhan McKenna and is also the location of the workhouse in Sebastian Barry’s play “The Steward of Christendom”.
The Baltinglass GAA club has several pitches and teams. One of their early successes was the 1912 Junior title. In 1927 they won the Wicklow Senior Hurling title. 1958 saw Baltinglass win the Wicklow Senior Football Championship for the first time; they have won it several times since, most recently in 2007. In 1990 the club claimed the All-Ireland Senior Club Football Championship.
Baltinglass railway station opened on 1 September 1885, as part of the line from Sallins to Tullow. It closed to passengers on 27 January 1947 and to goods traffic on 10 March 1947, and closed altogether on 1 April 1959 along with the rest of the line. The site is now mainly occupied by a livestock mart, although the station building remains intact.
Bus services are available to Carlow via Rathvilly and Tullow, twice daily Mondays to Fridays. This route is operated by JJ Kavanagh and Sons, and it stops in Baltinglass outside Burkes shop, to pick/drop off passengers. Bus Éireann route 132 provides a once-a-day, each-way commuter link to Dublin via Tallaght on the same days. There are also a limited range of Bus Éireann Expressway services (usually one or two journeys a day each way) linking Baltinglass to Dublin, New Ross, Waterford and Rosslare Europort, while Thursdays-only route 132 provides a link to and from Carnew.
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