County Kildare boasts acres of farmland and one of the world’s most acclaimed thoroughbred traditions. Breeders base themselves here because Kildare doesn’t levy a stud fee tax, and that’s a strong draw considering the high-value bloodlines coming out of the county. If you’d like to be based near a stud farm or in a traditional Irish community, then County Kildare is essential stop.
Maynooth is a more modern alternative with a university-fuelled night scene and leafy main avenue strung with shops, pubs and inns. But the most attractive town in the county is Athy, which lies at the intersection of the Grand Canal and the River Barrow. Walking tours reveal White’s Castle (more of a tower) and other historic sites.
Further information on Kildare including tourist and heritage information can be found by visiting kildare.ie.
Irish National Stud & Gardens
The Irish National Stud and Gardens symbolises all that is great about County Kildare, the beating heart of Ireland’s thoroughbred horse industry. It is the only stud farm in Ireland open to the public and offers daily tours. Visit the Japanese Gardens for a relaxing stroll, go to the Horse Museum which brings the nation’s love affair with horses to life and displays the skeleton of Arkle, a famous Irish thoroughbred racehorse. Finally, the beautifully designed St Fiachra’s Garden commemorates the patron saint of gardeners St Fiachra.
This popular attraction in County Kildare dates back to the 13th century and later became the home of the Fiztgerald family, the Earls of Kildare. Maynooth Castle, known as one of largest Earl’s houses in Ireland, gives visitors an impressive entrance for Maynooth College which is famous for the education of the Irish Catholic priests. In 2000 the Office of Public Works started a restoration work in order to develop the castle into an Irish Heritage Site. There is an exhibition in the Keep on the history of the castle and the family.
Built in 1417 by Sir John Talbot, Viceroy of Ireland, to protect the bridge over the river Barrow and the inhabitants of the Pale, Whites Castle is now a private residence. The castle has served many roles including acting as a fortress to guard the Cromaboo bridge and town from the wild Irish ‘beyond the Pale’, a prison, and as a family home as recently as 2005.