Kildare Map and Tourist Information
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A welcome respite from the capital's hustle and noise, County Kildare is, however, bursting with activity.
Mythical Fionn Mac Cumhaill and his warriors are reported to have practiced hurling and chariot-racing on the limestone plain of the Curragh within view of their camp on top of the Hill of Allen. The sportsman or woman of the 21st century will still find much to interest them, whether it is the extreme thrill of car or bike racing at Mondello Park near Naas, or the more leisurely (but often equally competitive) game of golf.
How many Irish counties can boast three top class horse racing courses? Kildare has the newly upgraded Naas facility, Punchestown, whose flagship meeting, the Punchestown Festival, brings punters four days of top quality National Hunt racing at the end of April every year, and The Curragh, home of the Irish Classics including the high society institution, the Irish Derby, every summer. A number of equestrian centres provide livery, lessons or ride-outs for all ages and abilities. A land-
locked county, Kildare makes the most of its 75 miles of inland waterways, exploiting the Royal and Grand Canals, the Rye, the Liffey and the Barrow for cruising, angling and walking alongside. The fascinating ecology of the Bog of Allen in Northwest Kildare is brought to life at the Bog of Allen Nature Centre. If it's other people's gardens you're after, look no further than County Kildare where our public gardens are as distinct as they are beautiful. The Japanese Gardens, St. Fiachra's Garden and the Irish National Stud at Tully, just outside Kildare town, are three elements of one world-class visitor attraction. Kildare has many more great ideas for family days out, such as the Millennium Maze, Lullymore Heritage & Discovery Park and the Butterfly Farm and Steam Museum at Straffan.
So, if you want to play golf, walk, canoe, fish, enjoy a day at the races, or at an international rally circuit, entertain and educate your family at a visitor attraction, indulge yourself in a gourmet meal, dance the night away, pamper yourself in a spa, catch a gig or touring play, don't go another mile. You are in the right place!
Kildare Town Heritage Centre (Market House) & Tourist Office - Situated in the restored 18th century market house. The centre is an ideal point of departure from which to explore the ancient treasures of the town. Housed in the Heritage Centre is a tourist office for all your accommodation needs. We have a nice range of Irish souvenirs for sale.
St. Brigid’s Cathedral - The Cathedral is located on the original grounds of St. Brigid's wooden church. Between 1223 and 1230 the present Cathedral was built. It was semi-ruinous by the year 1500, derelict by 1649, partially rebuilt in 1686 and finally restored to its present form from 1875 - 1896. Its environs include a Round Tower and a High Cross. Major restoration works took place in 1996.
Round Tower - The original tower possibly 6th century succumbed to assault or simply fell into ruin. At any rate its present rebuilding seems to date from the 12th century. The Tower, built of sandstone and granite, is 108 feet high and the second highest in Ireland but the highest one that can be climbed.
St. Brigid’s Fire Temple - On the north side of the Cathedral are the restored foundations of an ancient fire temple. A small fire is often lit in the fire temple for ritual on St. Brigid's Feastday on the 1st February. This flame was symbolically relit in 1993 and for the present is kept in Solas Bhríde House.
Kildare Castle - Behind the Silken Thomas premises is the site and one gatehouse of the 12th century Fitzgerald Castle. The castle was once one of the most important castles of the Normans in Leinster. In the 1790s Lord Edward Fitzgerald, lived in a lodge in the castle bawn. The Fitzgerald's took advantage of Kildare's location as a frontier town between the English Pale and the Gaelic Irish Territory to increase their power and influence.
The White Abbey (White Carmelite Church) -Founded in 1292 by William De Vesci Lord
of Kildare. The White Carmelite Church celebrated 700 years in 1992.
The Grey Abbey - The abbey lies south of the town and its ruins are sadly depleted. The Grey Abbey was erectd by Lord William De Vesci for the Franciscan Friars in 1260. Eight Earls of Kildare are buried there. St. Brigid’s Well - It is located close to the Black Abbey, near the site of the millrace, which was used by St. Brigid. This well is a site for religious devotion particularly on St. Brigid's annual feast day of February 1st.
The Irish National Stud & Horse Museum, The Japanese Gardens / St Fiachras Garden - All of this within the grounds of the Irish National Stud and One admission covers all four. The Japanese Gardens are now 100 years old while St. Fiachra’s Garden was a Millenium project and has 4 acres of Woodland & Lakeside Walks. The Horse Museum has been refurbished over a two year period and is now a ‘state of the art’ modern exhibition. Guided tours are given of the The Irish National Stud and it is the only Stud Farm in Ireland open to the General Public.
The Black Abbey - The abbey ruins are in the grounds of the Irish National Stud. The Knights Hospitaller founded the Black Abbey in 1212 at Tully. The De Vesci Family established the abbey and bred horses in Tully before they lost their Kildare lands to the Fitzgeralds in the 13th century.
The Curragh Plains - The main Dublin - Kildare road cuts through the flat green expanse of the Curragh. It is the largest tract of semi natural grassland in Europe consisting of 5,000 acres of rolling plains. It is the largest unfertilised greenland in Ireland. The Limestone rich grass strengthens the horse's bones, improves the breed and produces some of the finest horses in the world. Vintage Crop trained by Dermot Weld on the Curragh was the first horse from the Northern Hemisphere to win the Melbourne Cup. The Curragh is now the site of the internationally renowned racecourse and also houses the largest army base in the country.