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Irish: An tInbhear Mór
County Wicklow
IMG FerrybankArklow1548.jpg
Avoca River and Bridgewater Shopping Centre
Grid reference: T240735
Location: 52°47’39"N, 6°9’54"W
Population: 14,080
Local Government
Arklow Port 2014

Arklow is a town in County Wicklow on the east coast of Ireland. Founded by the Vikings in the ninth century, its name is from the Old Norse Arnkell-lág, meaning 'meadow of Arnkell'. The Irish-language place name, An tInbhear Mór means 'the great estuary'.

The town was the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the 1798 rebellion.

Arklow's proximity to Dublin led to it becoming a thriving commuter town with a population of 14,080 at the 2011 census, making it the third largest town in the county.[1]

Arklow is at the mouth of the River Avoca (formerly Avonmore), the longest river wholly within County Wicklow. The town is divided by the river, which is crossed by the Nineteen Arches Bridge, a stone arch bridge linking the southern or main part of the town with the northern part, called Ferrybank. The Nineteen Arches Bridge is the longest handmade stone bridge in Ireland and is considered a famous landmark. The plaque on the south end of the bridge is testimony to this.

Avoca estuary and the Nineteen Arches bridge.


The town's English-language name derives from Arnkell's Lág (Arnkell was a Viking leader; a "lág" (low) was an area of land). Its Irish name, Inbhear Mór or An tInbhear Mór, means the large estuary. It is also known in Irish as Inbhear Dé, from the River Avonmore's older name, Abhainn Dé. Historically it was a major seafaring town, with both the shipping and fishing industries using the port, with shipbuilding also being a major industry. The town has a long history of industry.

After the arrival of the Anglo-Normans, their leader Theobald Walter, 1st Baron Butler, ancestor of the Earls of Ormonde, was granted the town and castle of Arklow by King [[Henry II. In 1264 the Dominicans were granted a large tract of land, which is now known as Abbeylands, and they built an abbey, which became known as the Priory of the True Cross or Holy Cross.

Some time after 1416, the Manor of Arklow came into the control of the MacMurrough Kings of Leinster, possibly after the death of the 4th Earl of Ormonde in 1452. In 1525, Muiris Kavanagh (McMurrough, King of Leinster 1522–31) returned the manor and castle of Arklow and its lands to his nephew Piers Butler, the Earl of Ormonde.

During the Wars of the Three Kingdoms in September 1649, Oliver Cromwell arrived at Arklow on his way to Wexford and took the surrender of the town. In 1714, James Duke of Ormonde, sold the Manor of Arklow to John Allen of Stillorgan, County Dublin. In 1750 Allen's eldest granddaughter Elizabeth Allen married John Proby who was raised to the peerage in 1752 as Baron Carysfort of County Wicklow and came into possession of the Arklow Estate.

On 9 June 1798, the town was the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the 1798 rebellion when a large force of Wexford rebels attacked the town in an attempt to spread the rising to Dublin but were repulsed by the entrenched British forces with huge slaughter.

Transport and communications


The N11 road/M11 motorway from Dublin to Rosslare bypasses Arklow between junctions 20 and 21, becoming a motorway heading southbound from junction 20. A ten-mile upgrade to the N11 between Arklow and Rathnew got underway in April, 2014. This will connect the existing N11 Arklow Bypass with the existing N11 Rathnew/Ashford Bypass creating motorway from Dublin to Gorey. This project will also include the construction of a service area on the N11-Northbound, just north of Gorey, with direct access from the N11-Southbound via an overpass.


Rail connections are provided by Iarnród Éireann along the Dublin-Rosslare railway line, including commuter and intercity services in and out of the capital.[2] There is also a train to Dundalk available daily. Arklow railway station opened on 16 November 1863.[3]


Bus Éireann provides several routes through Arklow, including the 002, 005, 133 and 384 services.[4] In addition, Wexford Bus operates several services day and night linking Arklow with Dublin Airport.[5]


In 1884 Charles Stewart Parnell rented Big Rock townland from his cousin William Proby, Earl of Carysfort, and commenced quarrying. Parnell was also a supporter of the Arklow harbour scheme. The Parnell quarries closed in the 1920s.

In the early part of the 20th century, a large munitions factory, Kynoch, was established on the north side of the town. This factory employed several thousand workers during the First World War but closed shortly after it, all production being moved to South Africa. 17 workers were killed in an explosion at Kynoch in 1917. The town is also famous for its pottery and for its shipbuilding industry.

In the 1960s, a state-owned fertiliser factory, Nitrogen Éireann Teoranta, later Irish Fertiliser Industries, was established on the outskirts of the town. This factory complex comprised a number of chemical plants and manufactured a range of fertilisers from basic raw materials. It was one of the first major chemical plants in Ireland and contributed to the present-day success of the Irish chemical industry.

Shipping and shipbuilding

Arklow port.
Quarrying at Arklow Rock.

The former national sail training vessel Asgard II was built by John Tyrrell & Son Ltd in Arklow. Another John Tyrrell & Son boat Gipsy Moth III was sailed to victory by Francis Chichester in the 1st Single-Handed Trans-Atlantic Race in 1960. His time of 40 and 1/2 days was 16 days faster than the previous record crossing.[6] Recent times have seen large reductions in both cargo and fishing. However the town retains its significance to shipping in Ireland as the headquarters of Arklow Shipping, numerically the largest shipping company in Ireland, which maintains a fleet of 49 cargo ships and a subsidiary in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.


Arklow Sports Clubs
Club Sport Founded Venue
Arklow Boxing Club Boxing 1971 Arklow Boxing Club
Arklow Geraldines Ballymoney GAA Club Gaelic Football 1999 Pearse Park
Arklow Golf Club Golf 1927 Arklow Golf Links
Arklow Lawn Tennis Club Tennis 1921 Arklow Lawn Tennis Club
Arklow Ravens Ultimate 2011 The Pines (Temporary)
Arklow Rock Parnells Hurling/Camogie 1953 Parnell Park
Arklow Rowing Club Rowing 1990 South Quay
Arklow Rugby Club Rugby 1936 The Oval
Arklow Sailing Club Sailing 1969 North Quay
Arklow Town F.C. Association Football 1948 Bridgewater Park
Arklow United F.C. Association Football 1978 Ferndale Park
Woodenbridge Golf Club Golf 1884 Woodenbridge Golf Course
Arklow Racquetball Club Racquetball 1983 Arklow Sports and Leisure Centre


To many foreign music fans, Arklow is best known as the title setting for Van Morrison's 1974 song "Streets of Arklow", one of eight songs he wrote on a three-week vacation back to Ireland, and featured on his album Veedon Fleece. The "Battle of Arklow" is a well-known hornpipe and non-traditional set dance tune, and is often played at feiseanna and other Irish dance competitions. Arklow is also the home town of pop group Moloko's lead singer Róisín Murphy. The Arklow Silver Band were featured on the track Red Hill Mining Town by U2, on their 1987 album The Joshua Tree.


An aerial picture of Arklow

The Seabreeze festival is a three-day event in mid-July. The festival is a popular visitor attraction with many live shows and events at various venues throughout the town, ending in a fireworks display.[7]

Arklow has been both the birthplace and place of residence for many artists such as Arthur and George Campbell who were born there sons of Gretta Bowen, a self-taught artist who had a unique and individual style devoid of pretensions or attached to any particular movement.

The seaside town has also been the backdrop for artists and philosophers such a Ludwig Wittgenstein who frequented the town for its beaches and vivid sunsets as lighting conditions here are excellent in particular during winter and summer months. Also the surrounding countryside and valley stretching back to the village of Avoca along the Avoca river is calming, leaving one with a sense of well-being, there is little doubt then as to why it is popular in art and poetry. Laterly Avoca village and the surrounding area were popularised in the T.V. show Ballykissangel, drawing many visitors from abroad who come to see where the show was filmed.

As a haven for inspiration and recuperation, Arklow was ideal for artists such as Lilian Davison, A.R.H.A. (landscape, portrait and genre painter) born in Bray in 1893 died 1954, who painted subjects such as Jack B. Yeats, Sarah Purser, 'AE' George Russell, Austin Clarke and Joseph Holloway. She would visit the town regularly as it was and still is a popular beachside resort; during her many trips there she drew many sketches and painted scenes of the town and beaches in particular "The Netter, Arklow" which depicts a scene of a man repairing a net by the harbourside with the harbour in the background; on the reserve-side of the painting is a sketch of children playing on the south beach.

Percy French, artist and poet, was also known to visit Arklow and Avoca so much so that he married there, He made many sketches and wrote poems describing his feeling for the place.


Born in Arklow:

  • Garrett Byrne, MP (1829–1897).
  • Ron Delany, won Ireland's last gold medal in track and field at the 1956 Olympics in the 1500m.
  • Róisín Murphy, singer-songwriter.


  1. "Arklow Legal Town Results". Central Statistics Office (Ireland). 2011. Retrieved 5 August 2012. 
  2. "Dublin-Rosslare-Dublin Timetable". Irish Rail. Retrieved 28 March 2011. 
  3. "Arklow station". Railscot – Irish Railways. Retrieved 8 September 2007. 
  4. "List of Bus Éireann timetables". Bus Éireann. Retrieved 12 June 2014. 
  5. "Wexford-Dublin Airport Express". Wexford Bus. Archived from the original on 22 January 2009. Retrieved 14 January 2009. 
  6. Chichester, Francis (1979). Alone across the Atlantic (1st American pbk. ed.). New York: D. McKay. ISBN 0679509011. 
  7. Seabreeze Festival

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Arklow)