Top Things to see in County Kildare
Posted by Niamh Allabyrne on the 22nd of January 2013 at 16:18:26
Kildare is an inland county and lies to the southwest of Dublin. It is known as “horse country” and is world renown for the quality of breed it produces. Indeed there are more stud farms in Kildare than in any other county in Ireland and has 3 of the country’s most popular race-courses located within her boundaries Naas, Punchestown and the Curragh.
Kildare is also known for golf with several of Ireland’s most challenging courses located there such as the K Club, Carton House and Craddockstown. And one of Kildare’s most famous sons Arthur Guinness hails from this county! However, Kildare has given the world much more than horses, golf and Guinness – and although some may argue that these are the most important (!) here are our top tips on visits when you next find yourself in lovely Kildare! : )
The National Stud was established in 1900 by William Hall-Walker and has produced some of the world’s finest thoroughbred horses. The stud also has a horse museum which traces Ireland’s relationship with the horse, all overseen by Arkle’s skeleton, a legendary steeplechaser. In the same grounds of the stud are two gardens – firstly the magnificent Japanese Gardens, laid between 1900 to 1906 and considered to be some of the finest examples outside of Japan. The concept behind the gardens was to trace human life from birth to death. St. Fiachra’s Garden is the most recent addition, and is designed to invoke the spirituality of Irish monasticism which reached its peak during the 6th and 7th centuries. This is a great visit with lots to see and do – but make sure to allow time to truly embrace the spirituality of the gardens and savour their enigmatic magic.
Castletown House is located in the town of Celbridge – around 20 minutes from Dublin. It was built between 1722 and 1732 for William Conolly – speaker of the Irish House of Commons and once thought to be the wealthiest commoner in Ireland. The house was one of the first in Ireland to be built in the Palladian style, with the exquisite interiors dating to the latter part of the 18th century and due to the tastes and whims of Lady Louisa Lennox, wife of William’s nephew. This beautiful house is most certainly worth a visit and a house tour essential! Learn the Conolly family history with all its twists and turns and admire the wonderful architecture, original furnishings and paintings. Afterwards take a gander around the grounds and imagine the world of yesteryear!
Donadea Forest Park 9/11 Memorial
Donadea Forest Park is around 30 minutes from Dublin and covers some 640 acres. Once part of the Aylmer family estate, today it is state run. Memories of the former estate may still be seen with castle and church ruins, walled gardens, ice-house, boat house and a most wonderful lake which seems to be very popular with the local duck population! Located within the forest is the 9/11 Memorial, erected in 2003, primarily in memory of a local man Sean Fallon, who had died serving as a fire-fighter in the Twin Towers and who’s family had emigrated from the area but, also for all those people who had died during the events of 9/11 in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. This is a moving memorial, located in a tranquil spot of the forest, allowing time to reflect on those that had lost their lives and perhaps an opportunity to reflect on our own losses and blessings.
St. Brigid’s Cathedral
The town of Kildare is dominated by St. Brigid’s Cathedral which was built in commemoration of the saint that had established a religious order on the site in 480. There have been several renovations to the original cathedral over the centuries; however the current structure dates to 1875. The associated round-tower is the highest one in Ireland which people can still climb and dates to the 12th century. There is a high cross in the grounds as well. St Brigid is one of Ireland’s patron saints (the others being Columba and Patrick), so this is an important historical and ecclesiastical site that should be included on any itinerary of Kildare.
Newbridge Silver began making quality table and gift ware nearly 80 years ago. However, in recent years they have diversified into producing jewellery with tremendous success. Dynamic and evolving Newbridge have diversified their product line and gained a whole new audience with their pieces. With entertainment and sports names such as Linda Gray and Yasimn Le Bon affiliated with the brand, Newbridge have also sponsored the Rose of Tralee. Numerous jewellery pieces have been inspired by Hollywood greats such as Marilyn Monroe and Maureen O’Hara and their museum has two permanent pieces, selected by HRH Prince Albert of Monaco from his mother Grace Kelly’s personal collection, along with pieces from Michael Flatley, Michael Jackson and Audrey Hepburn. This is an interesting visit and with a café on site, this is great spot to spend an afternoon and maybe a euro or two!
So make sure that you include a stop on your Irish vacation to one or more of these great attractions on your Custom Tour of Ireland! Check out our full list of Irish attractions, tell us what you want to do and let us help you plan your tour your way! And if you are still stuck on what else to see and do in Ireland, take a look out our things to add to your Irish Bucket List as you may get some more ideas for your Irish vacation!