About Baltinglass

Baltinglass or Bealach Conglais, meaning 'road (or way) of Conglas', is a town by the River Slaney in south-west of County Wicklow.

Town in the past

Located at the intersection of the bordering counties of Kildare and Carlow, Baltinglass is a small rural town located in West Wicklow which is steeped in history and rich in natural beauty. Built on the river Slaney, the original settlement centered around the town’s main market square and the town is served by the main roads of the N81 (Dublin/Tullow) Road and R747 (Arklow/Kildare).

The broader geographical area around Baltinglass Town stretches to the nearby settlements of Stratford (7km), Grangecon (7km), Rathvilly (8km) and Kiltegan (9km) where many of Baltinglass’ social groups, youth groups and cultural activities are based. 30km south of Blessington, 60km from Dublin, 45km from Arklow and 23km from Carlow, Baltinglass is reasonably well connected to other larger population centres in Wicklow, Kildare and Carlow although it remains relatively isolated and underdeveloped compared to some of these neighbouring areas. Despite its relative isolation, Baltinglass is known for its multicultural population.

People & locations

Noted individuals originating from Baltinglass include Richard Crosbie, Ireland’s first successful aviator; Jennie Wyse Power, one of the first female Irish politicians; John Thomond O’Brien, Irish cavalry officer & honoured veteran of the South American Wars of Independence. The 1950 “Battle of Baltinglass” was documented in a book by Lawrence Earle and was written about in newspapers around the world including in Canada, America, Australia and India.

As an attractive location for visitors, Baltinglass has a number of locations of interest including the River Slaney which has been designated a “Special Area of Conservation” (SAC), the ruins of the old Cistercian Abbey (Baltinglass Abbey), St. Mary’s Church, and Baltinglass Hill, a historic hillfort which overlooks the town and which houses a Neolithic passage grave collectively known as Rathcoran.

Baltinglass Abbey & Courthouse

Baltinglass Abbey dates back to 1148 and was the site of the original Baltinglass settlement. Baltinglass Courthouse also has some historic relevance having served as the administration centre for West Wicklow during the 19th century as well as functioning as a courthouse for nearly 200 years before it was badly damaged during the Irish War of Independence in 1920.

Baltinglass Abbey viewed from the Slaney river
Photo from My Future Baltinglass event 2022 - Hothouse FlowersPhoto from My Future Baltinglass event 2022Photo from My Future Baltinglass event 2022
Photo by Mark Stedman

Present and future

Local community facilities include Baltinglass Community Centre, Fatima Hall, St. Joseph's Church, St Mary's Church, Baltinglass GAA Club, Scoil Naomh Iosaf (Primary School), Scoil Chonglais (Post Primary School), and the Old Badminton Hall on Church Lane. There are a number of active community, youth and sports groups in the area including the West Wicklow Concert Band, Baltinglass Amateur Dramatics, Foróige Club, No Name Club, Active Retirement Association, Baltinglass GAA Club and others.

Baltinglass & District Forum is a collective group of over 26 voluntary and community groups from the far wider Baltinglass District encompassing towns and villages including Blessington, Dunlavin, Tinahely, Carnew and others. Originally formed in 2007, the Baltinglass & District Forum (BDF) comprises representatives from each of the localities represented within Baltinglass Municipal District. Part of the remit of the group is the supporting of local festivals and community groups, tourism and economic development as well as acting as liaison with community groups throughout the area.

Significant change is expected for Baltinglass in the near future. As part of the regeneration of the town, Wicklow County Council have plans to commence a multi-million euro main street redevelopment/greening project with new play facilities as well as the planned expansion of the Library Service and Heritage Court Building.

A painter mixes colours photo by alicia zinn from PexelsStorytelling time at Cruinniu in BaltinglassPhoto from My Future Baltinglass event 2022

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