An tInbhear Mór
Maoin na mara ár muinighin
Our hope lies in the riches of the sea
|Elevation||20 m (70 ft)|
|Irish Grid Reference|
Arklow (//; ARK-loh; from Old Norse Arnkell-lág 'meadow of Arnkell', Irish: An tInbhear Mór, meaning 'the great estuary') is a town in County Wicklow on the southeast coast of Ireland. The town is overlooked by Ballymoyle Hill. It was founded by the Vikings in the ninth century. Arklow was the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the 1798 rebellion. Its proximity to Dublin led to it becoming a commuter town with a population of 13,163 as of the 2016 census.
Arklow is at the mouth of the River Avoca, 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 a plaque on the south end of the bridge acknowledges this.
The town's English 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.
After the arrival of the Anglo-Normans, their leader Theobald Walter, 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 Abbey.
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 Battle of Arklow, 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 many hundreds killed.
There are five primary schools located in the town, St. Joseph's Templerainey, St Micheal's and St Peter's Junior School, St. John's Senior National School, Carysfort National School and Gaelscoil an Inbhir Mhóir.
Transport and communications
The M11 from Dublin to Rosslare bypasses Arklow between junctions 20 and 21. A 16.5 km upgrade to the N11 between Arklow and Rathnew began in April 2014 and was completed in July 2015. This connected the then existing M11 Arklow Bypass with the existing M11 Rathnew/Ashford Bypass creating motorway from Dublin to Gorey. This project also included the construction of a service area on the M11 Northbound, just north of Gorey, with direct access from the M11 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. Arklow railway station opened on 16 November 1863.
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 historically known for its shipbuilding industry and pottery. The latter was produced at Arklow Pottery, which closed in 1998.
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 closed in 2002.
There is still an industrial base in Arklow, with Servier remaining as one of the manufacturing companies in Arklow. Allergan formerly had a plant locally, but this closed in 2009. In 2009, Elavon, a credit card processing company, purchased a new business site at Arklow Business Park. In 2019, planning permission was granted for a data centre at the Avoca River Business Park.[needs update]
Shipping and shipbuilding
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.
While now more focused on leisure traffic than commercial traffic, Arklow Harbour remains the headquarters of Arklow Shipping, numerically the largest shipping company in Ireland. This company maintains a fleet of 56 cargo ships and a division in Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
Arklow services a large catchment area (including a number of surrounding towns and villages) and has approximately 32,000m² of retail space. As of 2018, approximately 20% of this retail space was vacant. Among the town's largest retail centres is the Bridgewater Shopping Centre, which opened in 2007 and was sold in 2016 for €33.25 million.
As of 2007, the River Avoca was classified as "seriously polluted" by the Irish EPA as a result of the discharge of sewage directly into the river in addition to a long history of industrial pollution in the area from early mining operations and more recent chemical industries. In previous centuries, Arklow was renowned for oyster beds.
Raw effluent from the town still travels through the drainage system built in the 1930s and 1940s, and enters the River Avoca untreated via several sewage outfall pipes along the river. A sewage treatment plant has long been proposed for the area, and was first awarded planning permission in 1993. This was challenged unsuccessfully to An Bord Pleanála, however subsequently no funding arrived from government, and the planning permission lapsed. A further ten-year planning permission was granted in 1999. This too was unsuccessfully challenged to An Bord Pleanála, with conditional planning approval given in 2005. In 2019, planning permission was again confirmed for a "high-tech" waste water treatment facility, with construction commencing in August 2021.
Services and development
A recycling centre is located in one of the town's industrial estates. It is run by Wicklow County Council.
The local Gaelic football club, Arklow Geraldines Ballymoney GAA, was founded in 1999 and is based at Pearse Park. Arklow Rock Parnells GAA club, founded in 1953, is primarily involved in hurling and camogie and plays at Parnell Park.
St Benedict Inbhear Mór Athletics Club is registered with Athletics Ireland and based in Arklow. Arklow Lawn Tennis Club, founded in 1922, has three astroturf courts for use by members.
Lilian Davidson drew sketches and painted scenes of the town and beaches. One such work, The Netter, Arklow 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.
Arklow is 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 hornpipe and non-traditional set dance tune, and is often played at feiseanna and other Irish dance competitions.
The "Arklow Music Festival" is held in the town annually. It was established in 1970. The festival lasts a week and it involves people coming to compete from all around the country. They compete in solo forms and group forms.
Politics and government
In local government Arklow and the surrounding areas has six councillors on Wicklow County Council, representing the Arklow Municipal District. Arklow is part of the Wicklow constituency for national elections and referendums, and the South European Parliament constituency for European elections.
Arklow is twinned with:
- Aaron Barry, professional footballer player
- George Campbell, artist and writer
- Ron Delany, won Ireland's last gold medal in track and field at the 1956 Olympics in the 1500m
- Ciarán Hyland, Gaelic footballer with Wicklow
- Teresa Kearney, teacher, Franciscan Sister, and missionary
- Nicky Kelly, politician and former Mayor of Arklow
- Richard le Blond, 14th century judge
- James Moore, professional boxer
- Róisín Murphy, singer-songwriter
- Oisín Stack, actor
- Mervyn Travers, Gaelic footballer with Wicklow
- Kate Tyrrell, shipping company owner and captain of the Denbighshire Lass (1863–1921)
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