Carlow Town and the county to which it gives its name are situated in a part of Ireland that has been urbanised since the Norman invasion of the 12th century. Here the towns are more elaborate than elsewhere in the country. Rather than following the model of the sraidbhaile, the “street-town”, located on an ancient trade route and widened where necessary into a rough rectangle or triangle to form a market place, the towns of south-east Ireland display more complex patterns of organisation, reminiscent of those on the European mainland, though this is not to say they are exact facsimiles. While streets may be laid out as crossroads and in grid patterns, the shapes made are approximate; while there may be defined routes and public squares, these urban gestures are executed modestly rather than grandly. So an axis may be laid out with buildings aligned on one side only, or be focused on a church or courthouse or the house of the local grandee with a centralised porch or door case but asymmetrical wings; or a public square will be trapezoidal in plan, or will have only three sides, the fourth perhaps consisting of a line of trees or a river bank.