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Callan, County Kilkenny

Callan (Callainn in Irish) is one of the largest towns in County Kilkenny in Ireland. Situated 16 km (10 mi) south of Kilkenny on the N76 road to Clonmel (recently bypassed by the route), it forms the border between South Tipperary and Kilkenny.

History of the name

Callan was founded by William the Marshall in 1207 and reputedly gets its name from the High King of Ireland, Niall Caille. It is reported that while at war with the Vikings the High King arrived in Callan to find that its river was in flood. The King witnessed his servant trying to cross the river and being swept away by the fast flowing current. The King, recorded in history as a man of action, seeing the impending disaster, impetuously urged his horse into the fast flowing river in a vain bid to save his servant, only to be also overcome and drowned by the torrent. The river in question is now named the "Kings River".


Callan is the birth place of some famous people, namely:

  • Edmund Ignatius Rice, founder of the Irish Christian Brothers and the Presentation Brothers
  • Callan also has links with Asa Griggs Candler's family and the Coca-Cola company.
  • Perhaps its most famous inhabitant was Amhlaoibh Ó Súilleabháin (1780–1838), who was a schoolmaster and linen-draper in the town, and kept a diary in the Irish language between 1827 and 1835. This recorded in great detail the life of the town, which he named Callain an Chlampair or "Callan of the Ructions". At the time the town was notorious for its extreme poverty. Amhlaoibh's diary is considered one of the most detailed contemporary accounts of life in Ireland at the time from a native perspective.
  • John Locke, Ireland's Poet in Exile, was born here in 1847. He was the author of many well known poems, including The Calm Avonree and Dawn on the Irish Coast , also referred to as the Emigrants Anthem and for which he is probably best remembered.
  • James Hoban who designed The White House and Leinster House among others was born in Desart, near Callan.
  • Thomas Kilroy Irish playwright and novelist. Author of historical novel The Big Chapel.

Recent Developments

Neil Jordan's film "Breakfast on Pluto" with Cillian Murphy and Liam Neeson was filmed in Callan during August–September 2005. During the two weeks of filming in Callan, the main streets of the town were transformed for use in the film.

In 2007, Callan celebrated its 800th Year. President Mary McAleese launched the 800th Celebrations of the town being granted a charter. Full details of the celebrations can be found at Callan 800th website

Places of interest

  • The Moat, located at the top of Moat Lane just off Bridge Street, The Moat as it is locally known is one of Ireland's best preserved Motte-and-bailey's.
  • Saint Marys, located on Green Street.
  • Callan Augustinian Friary, known locally as the "Abbey Meadow" can be found at the North East end of Callan and can be accessed via Bridge Street.

See also

External links


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