Borris, known by some as "Granite Town" located in Irelands Ancient East, is a beautiful heritage village nestling in the fertile valley of the River Barrow, below the curve of Mt. Leinster and the Blackstairs Mountains. It is a village steeped in great Irish history and developed around the expansive Borris House Estate which was the ancestral home to the old High Kings of Leinster, the MacMurrough Kavanagh family.
Borris House, located directly opposite the Step House Hotel, is one of the few Irish estates that can trace its history back to the royal families of ancient Ireland. Set in over 650 acres of walled private park and ancient oak woodlands, Borris House retains its place as the centrepiece of the village. Seat of the McMorrough - Kavanagh family, whose ancestors have lived on the site since the 15th century, it is still occupied by the family for whom it was built. It contains a great deal of its original furniture, paintings, documentary archives and other artefacts. It is a three-storey Tudor Style building and has over 50 rooms, around 30 of these have fireplaces and 17 can be visited on a guided tour. There is a classical style running throughout the house, with marble work, painted ceilings and magnificent plaster detail.
Historical Development of Borris
The village prospered in the late 1800s as Arthur MacMurrugh Kavanagh, the landlord of the time, developed a saw mill and a thriving lace-making industry. He also instigated the building of a graceful 16-arch viaduct, situated at the lower end of the village. This impressive railway bridge spans the valley of the mountain river and once carried a branch line of the Dublin/Kilkenny railway of the Great Southern and Western Company. It was built between 1855 and 1865 and is made of granite from the local area. The Borris railway station opened on December 1858 and closed for passenger traffic in 1931. It then opened for goods traffic in 1947 and finally was closed altogether in 1963. The track ran from Borris through Ballywilliam and on to New Ross. There are 16 arches along the splendid landmark, now used as a greenway walking route.
4Km Walk from Step House to Borris Viaduct Loop
See our Instragram page highlights for storyline photos of the viaduct walk from the front of the Step House Hotel with the owners James and Cáit Coady. It is c. 4 kilometers and a lovely way to break the morning after a nights stay at the Step House Hotel.
Today, Borris is a picturesque village of old granite and stone buildings, many shops have kept their traditional shop fronts while Borris bars and pubs have earned nationwide recognition for their friendly, old world atmosphere and traditional music events. Joyce's, O'Shea's and Bob's pubs in Borris are some of the more unique and traditional pubs in Ireland.
Like to Walk? - River Barrow walk to St. Mullins
The River Barrow splits counties Wexford, Waterford, Kilkenny and Carlow up to Laois and Kilkdare. It is tidal to the point of St Mullins in Co. Carlow which is also a Monastic site steeped in Viking history! See more information on Carlow Tourism website here.
Like to Hike? - Mount Leinster Way and Blackstairs Mountains
Many bedrooms in the Step House Hotel provide provide panoramic views of Mt. Leinster and the Blackstairs. Guests often drive up to a parking area to walk the final incline to the top of Mt. Leinster where you can see part of Wales in the UK on a fine day. Other hiking and cross country walks are available including forraging at the foothills. Don't hesitate to contact reception if you would like to book a forraging or day-hike excursion.
Borris Golf Club
The ten hole golf course at Borris Co. Carlow commands panoramic views. It is one of the oldest golf courses of Ireland and is still maintained to a very high standard. Green Fees can be arranged through the hotel.
Other Areas of Interest
Borris is also an excellent hub to drive further afield beyond the Mount Leinster Drive and Blackstairs Mountains to Hook Lighthouse in Wexford or to New Ross to visit the Dunbrody Famine Ship and the John F. Kennedy Memorial and Homestead. Butler House in Kilkenny is also only 20 minutes drive, meaning a Base in Borris is a sublime and convenient way to explore Irelands Ancient East.
Moreover, Borris offers a wide range of outdoor activities. The floral festivals, excellent fishing spots, cross country driving experiences, hang gliding and breath-taking walking paths guarantee family fun for everyone.
Map of Borris