This stretch of the River Barrow is steeped in legend and has been settled for millennia. The place name in Irish is Tighe Moling, the House of Moling. Saint Mullins is the location of a monastic site built by St. Moling. He was born in 614 AD and during his lifetime he became a poet, artist and craftsman as well as a priest. Under the patronage of Mae doc ( Aidan ) of Ferns he built his monastery in St. Mullins in the 7th century. He reputedly dug a mile long watercourse with his own hands to power his mill, a task which took seven years. He was made Archbishop of Ferns in 691. During his lifetime many miracles were attributed to him. He died in the year 696 and is buried in St. Mullins.
This is also where the Atlantic sends it’s cold fingers up from New Ross and the shiny, fresh water of the River Barrow meets it head on. The different water temperatures often create a soft, misty landscape and imbues the area with a natural spirituality. During the Great Plague which swept Europe, pilgrims would come here to escape the pestilence and visit the holy well. A Norman Motte stands proud above the green which was once a village (or Bailey), protected by the Wooden Norman tower. The stump of a round tower and a holy well form a small part of extensive ecclesiastical remains. The site also contains the cross section of a ninth century granite High Cross which depicts the Crucifixion. The graveyard holds many 1798 United Irishmen burials and a pattern (patron day) is held each year in July to remember all those buried here. Along the riverside, a ten minute walk along the riverside Barrow Way brings you to the lock where you can usually chat to the boatmen who moor here. Bahana Wood flanks the river here and birdsong sweetens the air.
A natural ‘retreat’ at any time of year, St Mullins is in handy reach of Kilkenny City
– James Burke, www.barrowvalley.net
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