Kildare Main Towns


This 12th century Anglo-Norman settlement is an attractive market town with the 16th century Whites Castle and the magnificent Georgian Court Market house among its many charms. The Grand Canal and River Barrow navigation converge in the town. The Heritage Centre is situated in the 18th century Town Hall. The centre traces the development of the town through artefacts, display panels, audio visual and multimedia presentation. It also includes displays on Antarctic Explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, World War I, the Gordon Bennett Motor Race, the Confederate Wars, the Grand Canal and religious diversity. (Athy – meaning The Ford of Ae).

Ballitore is 45km from Dublin and just off the road from Dublin to Cork. The Down Survey of 1654 refers to the townland of Ballitore as comprising 380 acres of mostly arable land. It derives its name from its former marshy condition, Bally,i.e. a bog. In 1654, however, it is clear there was no substantial habitation at the site. The original purchase of the valley is attributed to two prominent members of the Society of Friends, John Barcroft (1664-1724) and Abel Strettel (1659-1732) at the end of the seventeenth century. Thus was born the village of Ballitore. Ballitore still retains a spirit of simplicity and modesty consistent with Quaker values.

Ballymore Eustace
Ballymore Eustace is an attractive and welcoming quiet town located in east Kildare, close to the Wicklow border, nestling on the banks of the River Liffey and Blessington Lakes. The population of this town is in the region of 700 people. It was in 1373 that the name Eustace first became associated with the town. Thomas FitzOliver FitzEustace was appointed constable. Today there is no trace of the castle although it is believed to have been situated on Garrison Hill. There is plenty to see in Ballymore Eustace including Russborough House, a mid 18th century mansion which houses the famous Beit Art Collection. Ballymore Eustace offers pleasant walking, fishing and watersports opportunities.

This unspoilt and beautiful area is dominated by the ruins of the great Tudo mansion of the Colleys atop Carbury hill, which was also known as Fairy Hill.

Nine miles (14km) south-east of Athy is Castledermot, which has a group of remains that include a round tower, two high crosses and the ruins of a Franciscan friary. Three miles (5 km) away is Kilkea Castle, once the residence of the Duke of Leinster, but now a hotel and health farm. The castle was built by Hugh de Lacy in 1180, and later passed to the Fitzgeralds. Garrett Og Fitzgerald, 11th Earl of Kildare, is said to have practised magic in Kilkea Castle. The castle was restored in 1849, but some of the old work remains.

Castledermot is a small town in south Kildare with a population of approximately 800. The name of Castledermot (Diseart Diarmada) originated in an early Christian monastic settlement of about 500 A.D. Castledermot once held a 13th Century Fransiscan Friary, which was later plundered by Robert Bruce in 1317. Only the walls of the church in the friary remain.

Celbridge is a town with a population of over 15,000 people, the town boasts a deep historical background ranging from Celbridge Abbey with Jonathan Swift to Castletown House with the Connolly Family to being the home of the infamous Arthur Guinness – Brewer . This Site was created by Dave Cochrane (A Local Student) with the help of Ivan Maguidhir, Ruair? Hanafin and Sin?ad Cochrane.

Clane is an attractive town halfway between Maynooth and Naas. The River Liffey flows past its outskirts and the Grand Canal is within a couple of kilometres. It is also close to Mondello Racing Circuit, home to Irish Motor Racing.

On the western side of Droichead Nua is the Curragh, a vast plain that has been a horse-racing venue from the earliest times. It is the headquarters of Irish racing today, and here the Irish Derby and other classic races are decided. For nearly a century the Curragh Camp has been an important military station and training centre: it was handed over to the Irish Army in 1922. East of the Camp is the Curragh Golf Club (18). At Donnelly’s Hollow, on the eastern end of the Curragh, a small obelisk commemorated a celebrated boxing match in 1815. Dan Donnelly, a giant Irishman, defeated the English champion George Cooper. Donnelly’s footprints on leaving the hollow have been preserved by being retrodden by countless visitors since.

Kilcock is a picturesque town situated on the banks of the Royal Canal, with a population of approximately 2000. It is home to the Larchill Arcadian Gardens, 25 Hectares of 18th century landscaped gardens, gothic and classical Follies, walled gardens and a lake. Kilcock also offers a choice of two golf courses, tennis, squash, athletics, angling and horseriding. Take a stroll along the ‘Old Bog Road’ in the footsteps of Teresa Brayton who wrote the song that immortalised it.

Kilcullen is about 48km from Dublin on the River Liffey. It is 6.4km from the Curragh, the centre of Ireland’s horse industry. The official name for the town is ‘Kilcullen Bridge’, to distinguish it from ‘Old Kilcullen’, a hill and settlement about 3kmoutside of town. Old Kilcullen was the scene of one of the bloodiest battles in the 1798 rebellion against English occupation. The village has recently being bypassed by a motorway and this has reduced the amount of heavy traffic passing through it

Kildare is an ancient cathedral town steeped in history. Saint Brigid, one of Ireland’s patron saints, established a nunnery here in the 6th century. On the original nunnery site there is today a magnificent 13th century cathedral flanked by a 9th century round tower. In the town centre are located the remains of the castle of the famous Earls of Kildare, the once powerful Fitzgeralds, though only one of the three original towers remains today. The cathedral and the castle are surrounded by a triangle of abbeys, the Black, the Grey and the White Abbeys. (Kildare – meaning The Church of the Oak Tree).

The pretty village of Kill is on Kildare’s border with Dublin. The village has a population of approximately 2,000. Kill has won numerous awards in Ireland’s Tidy Towns Competition. The famous Goffs Bloodstock Sales Ring is nearby. Goffs also plays host to the Irish Masters Snooker Championship every year. Kill is steeped in Kildare’s equestrian tradition with a number of riding schools in the area.

In the village is a 15th century tower and gateway of the castle of the Knight’s Hospitallers. Nearby are the remains of a church with fragments of a 12th century Romanesque arch decorated with unusual male heads and biblical figures. National monuments.

Downriver from Celbridge, in a prettily wooded part of the Liffey valley and on the main Dublin-Galway road, lies the village of Leixlip. The battlements of the twelfth-century Leixlip Castle overlook the salmon leap which gave the place its name (Danish, lax-hlaup). A hydroelectric dam forms a narrow lake stretching for about 2 miles upriver. A fish pass in the dam, based on the principle of a canal lock, allows fish to go upstream. The Liffey Descent, an international canoeing event, takes place here in September each year.

At the northern end of County Kildare, is the village of Maynooth beside the Royal Canal. Saint Patrick’s College is the centre for the training of Catholic diocesan clergy in Ireland, and also a constituent college of the National University. It was established in 1795 on the site of an earlier college by the Earl of Kildare in the 16th century, but soon suppressed by Henry VIII. Beside the main gateway of the college are the remains of Maynooth Castle, ancient seat of the Fitzgeralds. The oldest part is the keep, dating probably from the 13th century, there is also a fine gatetower. Carton House at the east end of the town was the residence of the dukes of Leinster. The house is an imposing mansion in classic style designed by Richard Castle in 1740.

Situated on the river Barrow and the Grand Canal, Monasterevan is a popular coarse angling centre. In the 19th century a busy industrial centre with a brewery and distillery. There are many Georgian houses, including the barrack-like 18th century charter school. The Protestant church has a good organ and fine wrought-iron gates while the Roman catholic church, designed by William Deane Butler in 1847, has a 17th century Italian communion rail and good statuary and paintings. A walk around the town reveals the many bridges over the river and canal, including the aqueduct over the Barrow, the unusual lifting bridge, and the 16th century pass bridge. Opposite the gate to Moore Abbey, is a memorial to Fr. Edward Prendergast who was executed here in 1798. Moore Abbey, built on the site of the monastery founded by St., Evin in the 6th century, which was later the site of the 12th century Cistercian abbey. The Irish tenor, Count John McCormack, once lived here. Now much extended, the mansion is a medical centre. The Jesuit poet, Gerard Manly Hopkins, who used to visit friends in the town, is remembered annually at a summer school held here.

This area was inhabited 6,000 years ago which makes it one of the oldest inhabited areas of the county. Here can be found the tall pillars of the entrance to Belan, the vanished home of the Earls of Aldborough. Near the village is Moone High Cross, a National monument, Kildare’s most important monument which dates back to the 7th century. The 5m high granite cross is decorated with scenes from the Old and New Testaments, including the Crucifixation, the Twelve Apostles, the Flight to Egypt and Daniel in the Lion’s Den. A damaged holed cross is located inside the ruins of the 13th century church. Nearby is a 15th century tower and an 18th century house, which is private. Bolton Abbey, a Cistercian monastry with a medieval tower house and columbarium. Timolin, located in the south of the county, is one of the oldest inhabited areas in the county. This village has a pewter mill and gift shop which is open to the public and in the porch of the Protestant church is the 13th century effigy of a knight.

Naas, the county town, is one the main road from Dublin to Cork, Limerick and Waterford. In early times it was the seat of the kings of Leinster, and the North Mote is the site of the ancient royal palace. Saint Patrick visited here and is said to havecamped on the site of the present Protestant parish church. The town was fortified by the Normans and pundered in 1316 by Robert and Edward Bruce. A Norman castle, once part of the towns fortifications, has been converted into the modern Church of Ireland rectory.

Newbridge is 11km beyond Naas on the road form Dublin to Cork and Limerick, this former garrison town on the River Liffey now has some thriving industries and the research centre of Bord na Mona, the national authority for peat development. On the banksof the river is an ancient motte about 40 feet high and 180 yards across.

Prosperous is an attractive village located about 6km from Clane and 16km from Naas. The Grand Canal flows past its outskirts and the River Liffey is within a couple of kilometres. It is also close to Mondello Racing Circuit, home to Irish Motor Racing. The Angel of Prosperous is taken from the baptismal font which was moved to Prosperous from Killybegs Churchyard in the nineteenth century. The Knights Hospitallers had a church at Killybegs and the font is at least four hundred years old. It is a tangible link with generations of Christians in this area.

A quiet town on the bank of the Slate river and the Grand Canal providing pleasant waterside walks and coarse angling. A massive earthworks near the Protestant church was the site of an early Celtic fort, and a later Fitzgerald outpost. Writer Maura Laverty (1907-1966) was born here.

The former “Grand Canal Hotel” dominates this attractively situated village. It was built as a stopping off point for passengers who travelled along the canal. Barge trips on the canal depart from outside the “Canal hotel”. There are walks on the tow-paths.

On the Grand Canal walking route, close to the Leinster Aquaduct and river Liffey. A popular fishing place.

The ruins of Rathcoffey Castle lies northwest of the village of Straffan. This was once the residence of the Wogan family, of whom the most famous was Sir Charles Wogan (born about 1698). He was a prominent Jacobite who was imprisoned in London for his part in the Scottish ‘Fifteen’ Rising; in 1716 he escaped to France and served in Dillon’s regiment of the Irish Brigade. Straffan Steam Museum is worth a visit.