Baltinglass is located on both sides of the River Slaney in West Wicklow, joined by a three arched stone bridge. The name derives from the Irish, Bealach Conglais, which is a reference to the legend of a huntsman who chased wild boar into a cave. The town owes its origins to the 12th century Cistercian Abbey, the impressive ruins of which remain on the east side of the river. Overlooking the town there is evidence of much earlier human activity at ‘The Pinnacle’ on Baltinglass Hill, a Neolithic burial site that is visible along with the more modern Holy Year Cross at the summit dating from 1950. The Cistercian monks constructed a weir on the river, allowing them to erect a mill across from the Abbey. In the 1830s Baltinglass Union Workhouse was built on the outskirts of the town. Its fever hospital later became Baltinglass District Hospital.
Baltinglass was the birthplace of Richard Crosbie (born c1755), the first Irish balloonist, and John Thomond O’Brien (1786-1861) who helped to bring independence to Argentina, Chile and Peru.