Kildare Tourist Attractions
Kildare (Cill Dara, "Church of the Oak") lies in the east of Ireland on the Dublin-Limerick road (N7), in a slightly elevated position compared with the surrounding countryside.St Brigid of Kildare (453-521), who ranks with St Patrick as Patron Saint of Ireland, founded a famous double monastery for monks and nuns here, headed jointly by a bishop as abbot and an abbess. The nuns tended a "perpetual fire" which was extinguished only at the dissolution of the monastery.Today Kildare is the center of Ireland's horse-breeding and training industry.
St Brigid's Cathedral
Kildare's glorious past is recalled by St Brigid's Cathedral (1223), which has undergone numerous restorations, most recently in 1875-1896. It contains a number of medieval tombs, notably the tomb of one of the Fitzgeralds of Lackagh (d. 1575). In the churchyard stands a fine round tower, 105ft/32m high, which was probably one of the last to be erected in Ireland; it can be climbed without difficulty. The roof is modern.The 15th C. tower which stands by the market place is all that remains of Kildare Castle.
Kildare Derby Festival
This annual week-long festival takes place in mid to late June.
The surroundings of Kildare have many features of interest.
Hill of Allen
On the Hill of Allen, 5mi/8km north of Kildare on the R415, there once stood a castle belonging to the kings of Leinster. The site is now occupied by a tower (1859) with Latin inscriptions; extensive views.
Irish National Stud, Tully
On the southeastern side outskirts of Kildare, at Tully, is the Irish National Stud, which has produced many famous racehorses. Here, too, is the Irish Horse Museum, covering the history of the horse from the Bronze Age to the present day. Among the exhibits can be seen the skeleton of Arkle, one of the most celebrated of Irish racehorses.Adjoining the grounds of the National Stud are the Japanese Gardens, laid out by Japanese gardeners at the beginning of the century using imported plants. A special feature is the "Path of Life," in which the landscape gardener has sought to represent the stages of man's life from the cradle to the grave.
The Japanese Gardens were created between 1906 and 1910 by a Japanese gardener (Eida) and his son for Lord Wavertree. Each garden tells a story about man's existence, except for one which is designed to encourage the visitor to generate his own thoughts about life.
Address: Kildare Town, Ireland
Opening hours: Feb 12 to Nov 12: 9:30am-6pm
Entrance fee in EUR: Family €18.00, Adult €8.50, Students €6.50, Pensioners (OAP) €6.50, Child 12 & under €4.50
Disability Access: Partial facilities for persons with disabilities.
Facilities: Gift shop, Restaurant or food service
Typical Visit: 2 hours
To the east of the Irish National Stud, on the southeastern outskirts of Kildare, lies the world famous racecourse, "The Curragh," situated in the plain of the same name. Here the Irish Derby is held every year at the end of June or the beginning of July.
At the eastern edge of the Curragh Plain, on the River Liffey (bridge of 1319), we come to the little town of Kilcullen, 2mi/3km south of which is Old Kilcullen. Once a walled town with seven gates, Old Kilcullen preserves the remains of a monastery founded by St Patrick (National Monument), with a very interesting fragment of a ninth century high cross which has representations of David with the lion (north side), Samson with the lion (west side), bishops, unidentified figures and interlace ornament. There is another badly weathered cross-shaft. Nearby are the remains of a round tower and of a Romanesque church (12th C).
Between Kilcullen and Old Kilcullen, on the west side of the N78, stands the hill-fort of Dun Ailinne, once a stronghold of the kings of Leinster. Its 15ft/4.5m high walls enclose an area with a diameter of 150yd/135m. The ditch, unusually, runs inside rather than outside the walls. The site was occupied from the Bronze Age until about 1800.
7mi/11km west of Kildare lies the ancient little market town of Monasterevin, with handsome late 19th C. houses.To the south of the village is Moore Abbey, an elegant 18th C. house built on the site of an old monastery. It is now a home for the mentally handicapped.North of Monasterevin the Grand Canal crosses the River Barrow in an aqueduct.