County Kildare is west of Ireland’s capital, Dublin. Just one hour away driving. Grand houses, stunning gardens and the heart of Ireland’s horse racing community, Kildare is a true thoroughbred and a star of Ireland’s Ancient East.
12 BEST Things to do in County Kildare
Kildare has always had a sense of style. After all, this is where you’ll find the fascinating story of William Conolly’s extravagant Castletown House, Ireland’s first and largest Palladian manor.
It’s the county that welcomed some of the world’s greatest golfers when it hosted the Ryder Cup at the K Club, as well as no less than 13 European Opens. And Kildare’s got status as an official Irish Heritage Town. But when the word Kildare is uttered amongst equestrian circles, there’s some serious style in store…
Here are some ideas to visit in County Kildare.
1. Take a Boat Trips
Kildare has many kilometers of canals and what better way to experience the county’s beautiful landscape than to take a barge trip on its tranquil waterways?
The Royal and Grand Canals provide endless opportunities for boat tours and cruising on barges. Below some of the options to do a Boat tour.
- Rent My Barge
Based at Lock 15, Kilcock, Rent my Barge offers the chance to rent, Anam Cara, a family owned barge for hire. For a unique holiday experience with very little boating experience required, the chance to skipper your own barge promises unique and memorable holiday for people with all and any interests.
Why not experience over 250 years of history in just an hour or two by taking one of Bargetrip.ie’s three scheduled canal cruises? Visitors can relax while listening to stories of Great Famine escapes and Landed Gentry or just sit at the helm with a drink while soaking up the tranquil Kildare countryside.
- Athy Boat Tours
Based in the South of the county, Athy Boat Tours offer many different options to suit every one. Their cruises, which are from one to five hours long run over the Grand Canal and the Barrow Line.
2. Visit the Castletown House
Castletown, is Ireland’s first and largest Palladian style house and a very important part of Ireland’s architectural heritage.
Erected between 1722 and c.1729 for William Conolly, Speaker of the Irish House of Commons and at the time, Ireland’s richest man. Castletown House was designed to reflect its owner’s power and to serve as a venue for political entertaining on a large scale
Castletown House remained in the family’s hands until 1965, when it was purchased by Desmond Guinness, who restored the house to its original splendor. His investment was continued from 1979 by the Castletown Foundation. In 1994 Castletown House was transferred to state care and today it is managed by the Heritage Service.
3. Enjoy a day at the Curragh Racecourse
The Curragh Racecourse in County Kildare is Ireland’s premier international Flat horse racing venue and one of the most iconic sporting venues in the world. It is situated on the Curragh plain in County Kildare, between the towns of Newbridge and Kildare.
It is one of the most historic sporting venues in Ireland with the first race taking place during the 1700s and is truly a venue where “Champions are Made” from training to racing.
It has a fascinating heritage – there is also written evidence of horse racing dating back to the third century when chariot races were held at the “Cuireach” – the Gaelic word for racecourse, on the lands known today as the Curragh
Ireland is branded as the “Land of the Horse” and County Kildare is branded as the “Thoroughbred County” with the Curragh at it’s very centre as the established capital of the Irish horse racing industry and home to an extensive racing community.
If you’re a horse and riding enthusiast, you can’t miss it
4. Walk the Irish National Stud & Gardens
From horses to horticulture the Irish National Stud & Gardens is one of Ireland’s true treasures and a big attraction in Kildare. The Stud Farm is the home of equine royalty, immaculately-bred stallions which can be seen and admired alongside protective mares.
The world-renowned Japanese Gardens, created between 1906 and 1910 narrate the cycle of life through 20 landmarks. Birth, childhood, marriage, parenthood, old age, death and the afterlife – told through the rocks, trees, water and more. Following these paths you will discover a poignant, enchanting and enlightening journey as you explore them.
St Fiachra’s Garden symbolises the power of the Irish landscape while the Horse Museum includes the skeleton of the legendary Arkle.
See retired equine stars like Kicking King, Hardy Eustace, Rite of Passage, Hurricane Fly and Beef or Salmon on the stud’s ‘Living Legend’s’ team
Other attractions on-site include lakeside walks and a ‘fairy trail’ for kids
5. Picnic at the Liffey Linear Park
The Green Flag Liffey Linear Park in Newbridge spans an area of just under 10 acres and is a wonderful oasis of calm along the banks of the river as it makes its way through the town.
This town centre park is owned by Kildare County Council and maintained, with their assistance, by Newbridge Tidy Towns Association.
The Park includes 7 acres of grassland, picnic benches and an adult outdoor exercise area. There’s also a protected wild bird nesting area an insect hotel and a number of both bat and bird boxes dotted through the park making it a good place to spot some of the wildlife living along the river banks. It’s a popular spot for walkers and families alike, as well as those taking a quiet stroll on their lunch break.
6. Discover the Newbridge Silverware & Museum
The Visitor Centre houses the complete range of Newbridge Silverware products and incorporates the award-winning Café Carleton, the famous Museum of Style Icons and the unique guided Factory Tour.
The Newbridge Silverware Factory tour is unique. Since 1934, Newbridge Silverware has been Ireland’s premier designer and producer of homeware and giftware products and it is this unique history of craftsmanship and experience, combined with a contemporary and fresh attitude to design, that puts Newbridge Silverware on the cutting edge of modern living.
The Museum houses fashion collections and artefacts which once belonged to some of the greatest style icons of modern times such as Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Princess Grace, Princess Diana, the Beatles and many more.
7. Family day out at Lullymore Heritage & Discovery Park
Explore Lullymore Heritage and Discovery Park, set on 60 acres of breathtaking landscape in the heart of the Bog of Allen.
Take a 9,000 year journey back through landmark periods of Irish history with exhibitions and multimedia displays, from the arrival of the early Mesolithic settlers and the dawning of Christianity to the 1798 Rebellion and the Great Famine.
Spend some time on the Biodiversity Boardwalk, see the glassy lakes and peatlands of birch, heathers and bog cotton. Discover the story of the raised bogs of the Irish midlands, 10,000 years in the making. Go on a guided tour of Lullymore Heritage and Discovery Park and learn of the rich history behind the environmental site.
Listen to audio description of Lullymore Heritage & Discovery Park from Failte Ireland. Audio click here.
8. Find the exit at the Kildare Maze
Leinster’s largest hedge maze is a fabulous attraction located just outside Prosperous in the North Kildare countryside.
We are focused on providing a challenging and exciting day out with good old fashioned fun for families at an affordable price. Out in the fresh air this is a great place for families to enjoy a day together.
The hedge maze was established in the late 1990’s and opened to the public in 2000. Since then we have undertaken a major-development programme, adding great new attractions to give you a more enjoyable and fun day out.
Things to do at Kildare Maze:
- The Hedge Maze
- The Wooden Maze
- Crazy Golf
- Picnic Area
- Adventure Trail & Zip Wire
9. Time for shopping at the Kildare Village Outlet
Welcome to Kildare Village, one of the Chic Outlet Shopping® Villages in Europe, is located less than an hour from Dublin and offering Ireland’s leading luxury outlet shopping experience.
Kildare Village is a charming shopping destination. It is home to 100 boutique of world class brands, luxury fashion and homeware stores, with up to 60% off of the recommended retail price throughout the year.
During your visit, why not unwind at one of the Village’s stylish dining destinations? .
10. Enter to St Brigid’s Cathedral and the Round Tower
St Brigid’s Cathedral in Kildare Town was built by the Norman Bishop Ralph of Bristol in 1223. The entire site is steeped in important religious history; it’s believed to be the location at which Saint Brigid, one of Ireland’s patron saints, founded a nunnery in the 5th century.
The Gothic-style architecture reflects the structure’s dual purpose as both a place of defence and of religious worship.
Also on the grounds is a 12th century round tower that extends 33m toward the sky, making it the second highest in Ireland. Constructed from Wicklow granite and local limestone, this historic tower is open to visitors during the summer months. Stunning views can be taken in from the roof, for visitors daring enough to climb that high.
11. Experience the calmness of St Brigid’s Well
Very close to the Irish National Stud, you will find St. Brigid’s Well, which is reputedly a ‘healing well’, one of many in Ireland.
St Brigid’s well is situated where the location of her double monastery once stood in Kildare Town, close to the Black Abbey.
The site is maintained by the Brigidine Sisters and they have done a terrific job. The statue of Saint Brigid by sculptor Annette McCormack dominates the site in this peaceful and reflective area. The stillness of the water in the well and the sound of the bubbling water below as it passes under the arch erected over two ancient stones make this such a beautiful place.
St. Brigid is the second patron saint of Ireland, whose feast day is 1st February, and traditionally the first day of Spring in Ireland.
Some people visit this Well to celebrate it.
12. Don´t miss the beautiful and historical St Patrick’s College in Maynooth
St Patrick’s College in Maynooth, opened its doors as an educational institution in 1795 as the National Seminary, becoming a Pontifical University in 1896. In the intervening two centuries, it has established for itself an impressive reputation for scholarship and learning. The Pontifical University and National Seminary are often referred to as Maynooth College.
Visits are welcome to stroll in the extensive parkland, visit the College Cemetery and Junior Garden. A visit to the National Science Museum is recommended. It houses fascinating artefacts from Callan’s research, as well as more contemporary items, such as the original Intel Pentium chip. Non-scientific items are on display as well, including vestments presented by Empress Elizabeth of Austria, and the death-mask of Daniel O’Connell