Roads and Toll Roads

The Dublin-Carlow-Kilkenny road was a major highway. During the first half of the eighteenth century tolls were imposed on roads along major routes in Ireland. This became necessary in order to ensure that they were kept in good repair.

These roads were also known as turnpike roads. Turnpikes were barriers extending across the road, which were turned (or opened) in order to allow traffic to pass, after the payment of a charge or toll to a tollgate keeper, who collected money for the trust.

There were circa 40 main toll-roads in Ireland, of which five passed through County Carlow. Parliament legislated for toll-roads to be set up. They were established for economic reasons and to ensure that the local population would not be responsible for their upkeep. Under the legislation, trusts were established, usually for a period of 21 years, to administer the toll-roads.

The earliest toll-road in County Carlow was set up in 1731 along the route from Kilcullen to Kilkenny through Carlow town. At least four separate trusts were established to maintain the turnpike or toll-roads passing through County Carlow.

1. Kilcullen to Carlow - Abraham Rothe (Treasurer)

2. Athy to Castlecomer and Leighlinbridge - Roger Garraway and David Ryan (Treasurers)

3. Carlow to Kilkenny - Andrew Johnson (Treasurer)

4. Carlow to Castlecomer - Robert Phillips (Secretary)

5. Dublin to Carlow through Blessington and Baltinglass - Messrs. David La Touche & Co. (Treasurer), Michael Fenton (Clerk and Collector)

The trustees met at different locations. Common meeting places in the Carlow area were Carlow town, at the Royal Oak, Leighlinbridge and at the Leinster Arms or Byrne's Inn in Castledermot . Meetings were generally held quarterly and were advertised in the local press.

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