Bahana Forest is an old woodland site sloping down to the banks of the River Barrow, between Graiguenamanagh and St Mullins, in County Carlow. It is thought that Bahana derives its name from ‘beith’ the Irish name for birch.

In the seventh century, Saint Moling established a monastery in this area to take advantage of navigation opportunities along the River Barrow. This location was later targeted by Vikings who navigated the river in the tenth century to carry out raids and destruction. Visitors will note the remains of of a fourteenth-century abbey situated in the upper settlement. Close to the monastery remains is a well-maintained motte and bailey, a sizable earthen mound (the motte) that served as the foundation for a Norman fort built in the twelfth century.

In St. Mullins use the car park at the Quays to start this walk.

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Things to do

The Bahana Forest Loop trail:  starts in the Car park at St. Mullins Quay where there is a picninc area, restaurant & shop (seasonal) Distance/Time: 4.5km (approx 1 hour) Difficulty: Easy. The terrain: River towpaths and forestry track To suit: Beginner or experienced walker.

Points on the map:

A-B: Leave the car park and follow the towpath along the river. You will be walking upstream with the River Barrow on your left. After approx. 15 minutes, follow a canal away from the river to reach St. Mullins Sea Lock – the river is tidal up to this point. The River Barrow is one of the great ancient highways of Ireland’s Ancient East, offering a route inland from the Irish Sea at Waterford Harbour. Shallow bottomed boats were required for many centuries until a series of canals and locks were constructed in the eighteenth century to facilitate the passage of larger boats. Websters were the lock keepers here in the 1950s when commercial navigation finally yielded to road transport.

B-C: Continue by the canal to reach a track junction. Turn right uphill to reach a crossroads where you turn left on the main track. Bahana Forest takes its name from the Irish word ‘Beitheanna’, meaning a place of birch trees.

C-D: Reach a three way junction and keep left to follow the forest road back down towards the river.

D: Reach a lower track and turn sharp left to arrive back down at the towpath on the River Barrow, noting a lime kiln on your left side. Lime kilns were commonly used in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to burn lime stone rock in order to derive lime, which in turn was spread on the land to increase productivity. Turn left and follow the towpath back downstream with the river on your right. Soon the canal leaves the river and you follow the towpath to reach your outward route. As you walk, think of the horses that once plied this towpath pulling barges up and down the Barrow Navigation.

The route follows the long distance Barrow Way & St. Columbanus Way in part. The full distance of the Barrow Way walking route stretches some 114km from St. Mullins to Robertstown, in Co. Kildare. A beautiful walk of 8km along the towpath to Tinnahinch/Graiguenamanagh can also be enjoyed from here featuring frequent weirs and the lofty Brandon Hill rising up to your left.

Don't miss the hidden gems

Facilities on site


Walking trails

Council car park with spaces for plenty of cars.

Fishing stands along the river.

Trail map

Nearby pit stops

St Mullins offers bar and café options.