Cross the Nineteen Arches Bridge in Arklow, Ireland

In County Wicklow on the east coast of Ireland is the little town of Arklow, a bustling commuter center with a population of about 12,000. Founded by Vikings in the 800s, Arklow has a complex and violent history, with its fiercest battle occurring in 1798. Because the town is located so close to the River Avoca and to Dublin, it is very popular among commuters, and tourists have begun to see its charm as well.

While not as much shipping is being done in Arklow now as there was in years past, it remains a major port due to Arklow Shipping, which has a fleet of 37 ships and is Ireland’s biggest shipping company. The Avoca River is no longer a fishing hotspot because of pollution, though the town does try to offset environmental issues with its recycling plant.

Arklow boasts many sporting clubs, with its residents active in boxing, golf, tennis, hurling, rowing, rugby, football and sailing. In addition to physical activities, the town is home to a number of major cultural events, including the three-day-long Seabreeze festival, which takes place every July. Many notable artists and writers have hailed from the area, including the artists Arthur and George Campbell and the poet Percy French.

The most famous landmark in Arklow is the Nineteen Arches Bridge, which traverses the Avoca River. Made entirely of stone, the Nineteen Arches Bridge is the longest handmade bridge of its kind in all of Ireland, and many visitors come to Arklow specifically hoping to see it. An even bigger draw is the town of Avoca just near Arklow, which is where the television show “Ballykissangel” was filmed. Fans of this show about a bucolic town and its colorful residents flock to the Arklow area in order to see the various landmarks from the television series and discover whether it holds the same magic in person that it seemed to on television.

Arklow is reachable by car, bus and train, and accommodations are available for visitors. Those who are interested in relocating there might like to know that the town has eight primary schools and four secondary schools serving the educational needs of the youths who live there. Another educational opportunity exists in the form of a twinned town; Arklow is twinned with Chateaudun, a town in France, allowing residents a natural chance to interact with those who live in France.

Arklow’s famous residents include singer-songwriter Roisin Murphy, track and field Olympian Ron Delany and Irish nationalist Garrett Byrne. The town has also gained popularity via a Van Morrison song entitled “Streets of Arklow,” one of the songs that resulted from the singer-songwriter’s three-week-long trip to Ireland in 1974. Those who enjoy traditional Irish music, particularly instrumental dances, may also be familiar with “Battle of Arklow,” which is generally played with hornpipes.

With its abundance of culture and music and its beautiful landscapes, Arklow is a lovely town for visitors and residents alike. While it is large enough to have a thriving industry, it retains a small-town feel, and those who come to Arklow should quickly feel at home.