Athy Tourist Attractions
Athy (Baile Atha h-I, "Ford of Ae"), the largest town in Kildare county, lies southwest of Dublin on the River Barrow, at a ford which was an important crossing-place and at the junction of two roads, the N78 and the R417. A branch of the Grand Canal joins into the Barrow here.
White's Castle in Athy, built by the Earl of Kildare in the 16th C. to protect the Barrow, is a massive rectangular structure with turrets at the corners. The bridge has the unusual name of Crom-a-boo, from the war-cry of the Desmonds - an Earl of Desmond was English Governor about 1420.
Woodstock Castle (13th C.) is 800m/0.5mi north of Athy on the L18. It was built to defend the river crossing and suffered severe damage in 1649.
Downstream from White's Castle in Athy stands the Dominican church (by John Thompson, 1963-65), on a pentagonal plan, with an ingenious spherically vaulted roof structure. It contains a number of notable works of art, including fine stained glass and Stations of the Cross by George Campbell.
Court and Market House
Athy's old Court and Market House, a fine Georgian building, is now the fire station.
Motte of Ardskull
4.5mi/7km northeast of Athy, on the N78, is the Motte of Ardskull, a 30ft/9m high circular earthwork of the 12th C.
Quaker Museum, Ballitore
Five mi/eight km east of the Motte of Ardskull near Athy lies Ballitore, once a flourishing Quaker settlement with a celebrated school. The Quaker Meeting House now houses a bookshop and a small museum. Another attraction is the Crookstown Historical and Heritage Center, set up in a mill dating from the mid-19th C. which has been restored and has a mill-wheel that still operates. Numerous exhibits document corn-grinding and bread-making in past centuries.
Moone - High Cross
South of Ballitore, at Moone, just off the N9, is a slender high cross (17.5ft/5m in height) with magnificent low reliefs, naively stylized. On the east side can be seen Daniel with seven lions, Abraham's sacrifice, Adam and Eve, and the Crucifixion; on the west side the Twelve Apostles, the Crucifixion, the Virgin and St John; on the north side the Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes, the Flight into Egypt, the Three Young Men in the Fiery Furnace and various animals; and on the south side a number of figures and animals. The cross stands in the churchyard beside a ruined 13th C. church which contains remains of another cross with figures of animals and centaurs.
Going south from Moone in the Athy area on the N9, we come in 5mi/8km to Castledermot, with the ruins of a very ancient monastery (National Monument; Romanesque doorway), a round tower (upper part medieval) and two granite high crosses with Biblical scenes. The relief of David with his harp on the North Cross is of particular interest as one of the few representations of an Irish harp.On the south side of the town are the ruins of a Franciscan friary (National Monument), founded in the 14th C. and dissolved in the 16th.