15 Sep Kildare, County Kildare
Solid and settled, Kildare is secure in the affluence it has won by horse-breeding and racing. The town’s Irish name, Cill Dara, means ‘the church 9 (or monastery) of the oak tree’. The monastery in question was founded in AD 490 by St Brigid, and today St Brigid’s Church of Ireland Cathedral, on what is believed to be the same site as the monastery, is the dominant feature of the town. Its precise age is uncertain, though some say the odd-looking Round Tower, with its entrance doorway located 12ft up the wall for extra security and accessible then as now only by ladder, was built in the 10th century. The main parts of the Cathedral were started in 1223, though several reconstructions have been undertaken over the years since.
Kildare is an excellent base for exploring the surrounding countryside, including the Bog of Allen, the largest bogland area in Ireland, which stretches from the Western edge of the county to touch the Shannon to the West.
Kildare is a real hidden gem with a rich history that is worth a visit on your tours of Ireland.