Maynooth, County Kildare
The castle was probably built in 1176 by Maurice Fitzgerald, a companion of Strongbow. It remained a Fitzgerald stronghold until 1535, when the rebel Lord Thomas Fitzgerald (known as ‘Silken Thomas’ from the silk fringes worn on the helmets of his retainers) was betrayed to Sir William Skeffington by his foster-brother Christopher Paris. Although restored to the 11th Earl in 1552, it was taken by Owen Roe O’Neill in 1647 and dismantled. A massive keep remains, surrounded by several other towers and fragments of outworks.
Adjacent is St Patrick’s College, a constituent college of the National University of Ireland, and no longer exclusively a clerical university. Founded in 1795, largely through the goof offices of Edmund Burke, a seminary for the Irish priesthood (whose continental schools were inaccessible during the Napoleonic Wars) it succeeded a previous establishment of 1521, endowed by the 8th and 9th Earls of Kildare and suppressed in 1538.
Of the two quadrangles, the first dates from 1795; the second, by A.W.N. Pugin, from 1845. The chapel, with its tall spire, was designed by J.J. McCarthy (1875). The Library contains some illuminated MSS, old Irish printed books and MSS, and books from Burke’s library. The Maynooth Ecclesiastical Museum contains church plate and vestments used during ‘Penal’ times and the 19th century scientific instrument collection of the Rev. N.J. Callan, electrical pioneer and inventor, which is of considerable interest.
Maynooth is full of things to see that are a must see on your Ireland tours.