County Kildare (from the Irish, Contae Chill Dara) is part of the Mid-East region, taking quite a substantial slice of the Bog of Allen and a little of the Wicklow Mountains, both of which are spread over several other counties. The counties of Wicklow and Meath are also part of this region.
The bog takes its name from the Hill of Allen, a volcanic hill located at its easternmost point. Finn McCool, a legendary figure in Irish mythology most famous for taking apart the causeway coast in north Antrim, is said to have reigned from here with his band of warriors, the Fianna.
Reality and mythology, however, are not in this case mutually exclusive, and a coffin in which the bones of the mythical warrior were allegedly discovered was unearthed during the construction of Sir Gerald George Aylmer’s tower atop the hill in 1863. Never mind that Finn McCool is written into mythology as being a 52 feet tall giant. The tower itself has since become known as Aylmer’s Folly, for the shoddy planning that went into it and for its rather featureless design (without an architect entirely, it appears).
The Battle of Allen, between an army under the command of the High King of Ireland and an army under that of the King of Leinster, was fought nearby the hill, in 722. Kildare is, in fact, rich in history and Lyons Hill village, deserted during the early 20th century and later restored around a garden and lake estate, was the seat of the Royal kingship of Leinster between 750-1050. The county town of Kildare is famous for its monastery, founded in the 12th century by St. Brigit, one of three patron saints of Ireland, and for hosting the first ever Gordon Bennett Cup in 1903, which in turn gave birth to the British Racing Green.
Unmissable Attractions County Kildare
1. The National Science Museum at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth (Opening Times: Tuesday and Thursday from 2.00 p.m. – 4.00 p.m. and Sunday from 2.00 p.m. – 6.00 p.m.)
3. Castletown House (Opening Times: Tuesday to Sunday from 10.00 a.m. – 4.45 p.m. in summer) Prices: Adults €4.50 / Senior citizens, students and children (over 5) €3.50 / Family €12.50
4. Steam Museum and Lodge Park Walled Garden (Opening Times: Wednesday to Sunday from 2.00 p.m. – 6.00 p.m. in summer) Prices: Adult €7.50 / Children, Senior citizens and students €5.00 / Family €20.00
5. Straffan Butterfly Farm (Opening Times: Monday to Sunday from 12.00 p.m. – 5.30 p.m.) Prices: Adults €8.00 / Children €5.00 / Senior citizens and students €6.00 / Family €5.00
6. Bog of Allen Nature Centre Prices: €5.00 per person (children go free)
7. Lullymore Heritage and Discovery Park (Opening Times: Monday to Sunday from 9.00 a.m. – 6.00 p.m. in summer / Saturday and Sunday from 12.00 p.m. – 6.00 p.m. in winter)
8. Newbridge Silverware Visitor Centre (Opening Times: Monday to Saturday from 9.00 a.m. – 5.15 p.m. and Sundays from 11.00 a.m. – 5.15 p.m.)
9. St. Brigid’s Cathedral and Round Tower (Opening Times: Monday to Saturday from 10.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m.)
10. Irish National Stud and Gardens (Opening Times: Monday to Sunday from 9.30 a.m. – 6.00 p.m. in summer) Prices: Adults €12.50 / Children (5-15) €7.00 / Senior citizens and students €9.50 / Family (2 adults and 4 children) €29.50