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|Irish Grid Reference||S702742|
Ballyhide (Irish: Áth Liag) is a rural townland and village in the extreme South Eastern corner of County Laois, Ireland at the border with County Carlow. The nearest urban centre is Carlow town which is 3 kilometres to the North East. It is located in the Luggacurren Local Electoral District.
The most densely populated area of Ballyhide is a small village situated beside the River Barrow at the border with Crossneen, another townsland. Most of the population are employed in Carlow town although some also work in the Clogrennane Lime plant which is situated 2.5 kilometres to the South West,some travel as commuters as far as Dublion and some also farm the land in this highly agricultural area. Dairying is a major agricultural enterprise.In the arts, Kathleen O'Rourke who grew up here went to school in Graiguecullen has a short animated film nominated for the 2010 Oscars in LA California.
Ballyhide is bordered to the South by the River Barrow and the County boundary between County Laois and County Carlow, to the East by Crossneen and to the North by Springhill which are other townslands within the same parish. The River Fuishoge also runs through the area and is a tributary of the Barrow. The area lies at the foot of a 336m high hill referred to as Rossmore, Killeshin hill and often on maps as Slieve Margy.
The dilapidated ruin of a mansion often referred to locally as Rochfort's Castle or the Black Castle sits at the foot of the hill overlooking Ballyhide which was the home the Rochfort's, an Anglo-Irish landlord family, who owned much of the lands in the area prior to the Irish War of Independence. The Primary Valuation of Ireland or 'Griffiths Valuation', carried out in Laois in 1851/52 refers to the local landlord as Horace Rochfort Esq. The mansion was burned down, leaving it in its current state. Although there is some dispute and little evidence relating to who burned it down, one local story is that the local Irish Republican Army Flying column burned the Rochforts out in revenge for the eviction of a woman who couldn't pay the rent when her husband died. Another story is that her sons burned the house and kidnapped the Rochfort's two sons. Although no evidence is available to verify either story a column was known to have been active in the area and the house certainly did not survive the war.
Ballyhide's location on the banks of the Barrow has led to the areas popularity as fishing spot. In particular, the stretch of river where the small canal rejoins the Barrow, locally known as Lanigans Lock, is well known for trout fishing and was a very popular swimming spot although Laois County Council have posted signs warning of the dangers of swimming in the water here. A walkway known as the Barrow track runs from Milford, downriver of Ballyhide through this area and into Carlow town.
The people of Ballyhide have divided loyalties when it comes to Gaelic Football clubs. There are two clubs in the parish, Graiguecullen GAA and Killeshin GAA and Ballyhide residents usually elect to play for one or the other. However, there is no doubting where their loyalties lie when it comes to intercounty football as being so close to the border, they are always sure to let you know that they are from the Laois side of the border and that they will be wearing blue and white whenever Laois GAA play. Many Ballyhide people also use the sports facilities in or around Carlow town such as the Carlow Lawn Tennis Club or Carlow Golf Club or play soccer with Killeshin or with Graiguecullen based clubs St Patricks Boys FC or St Fiaccs FC.
Most young people from Ballyhide attend school at primary level in either Scoil Chomhgáin Naofa, Killeshin or St Fiaccs National School, Graiguecullen. They then go on to study at second level in any of Carlows second level schools such as St Leo's College, Carlow for girls, the Christian Brothers Academy for boys or mixed schools such as Carlow Vocational School, Gaelcholáiste Ceatharlach or Presentation College. Boys may also chose to go the famous Laois football school St. Mary's Knockbeg College.