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Gaelic: Cill Droichid
County Kildare
The Mill, Celbridge - geograph.org.uk - 1008068.jpg
The Mill, Celbridge
Grid reference: N971330
Location: 53°20’17"N, 6°32’20"W
Population: 21,857  (2016[1])
Post town: Celbridge
Postcode: W23
Local Government
Council: Kildare
Website: http://celbridge.ie

Celbridge is a town and townland on the River Liffey in County Kildare. It is located 14 miles west of Dublin, at the intersection of the R403 and R405 regional roads.

In recent years Celbridge has expanded dramatically to be the largest town in the county, yet most of the town's services and amenities still centre on the single main street.


The name Celbridge is derived from the Irish Cill Droichid meaning "Church of bridge" or "Church by the bridge". The Irish name was historically anglicised as Kildroicht, Kildrought, Kildroght, Kildrout.[2][3]

Transport and access

Celbridge's substantial growth has created considerable traffic congestion. Much of this is attributed to the fact that there is only one bridge over the Liffey in the town, thus creating traffic bottlenecks. Lax enforcement of parking laws and a lack of adequate parking space are also blamed. The Celbridge Interchange (Junction 6 of the M4) which connects the town to the motorway as well as the Intel and Hewlett Packard plants in Leixlip, was opened in 2003 to help address these traffic issues, with some success.

The town is served by Dublin Bus, with route linking the town to the Dublin as well as the nearby towns of Lucan and Maynooth.

Commuter rail services run to a station in Hazelhatch, about two miles from Celbridge village. There is a limited feeder bus service to/from the town. Commuter suburban rail services from Kildare to Dublin city centre serve Hazelhatch, although these are quite limited on Sundays. The service brings passengers to Heuston station or to Grand Canal Dock (via Connolly Station, Tara Street and Pearse Street stations). The station is located on one of the most important InterCity lines in the country, with services to Cork, Limerick and Galway, however these do not stop at Hazelhatch station.

St Patrick's Church
Christ Church


Celbridges's two main active parish churches are those of St Patrick (Catholic) and Christ Church (Church of Ireland). St Patrick's forms part of the Catholic Parish of Celbridge and Straffan within the Archdiocese of Dublin.

Christ Church is the Anglican Parish Church for Celbridge and forms part of the grouped Parish of Celbridge, Straffan and Newcastle-Lyons in the Archdiocese of Dublin and Diocese of Glendalough.

Celbridge Christian Church is a non-denominational independent church formed in 2005. The congregation is drawn from many nations and regularly numbers over 85 adults and 70+ children. Its current pastor is Paul R Carley, who founded the church. Pastor Carley has ministered in the United States, United Kingdom, France, Belarus and Kenya.


Celbridge has six primary schools: Primrose Hill (co-ed, COI), St Brigids (girls, RC), Aghards also known as Scoil Mochua (mixed, RC), Scoil na Mainistreach (boys, RC) and North Kildare Educate Together National School (mixed, multi-denominational), and St Patrick's currently located in the GAA grounds on the Newcastle road(mixed, RC); and three secondary schools: Celbridge Community School (a coeducational school, operating under the auspices of the Kildare/Wicklow Education & Training Board and Educate Together[4]), St Wolstan's Community School[5] for girls (the only all-female community school in Ireland), and Salesian College Celbridge for boys.

There is also a residential special school, Saint Raphael's, (co-ed, RC) for children with a learning disability. Celbridge also has one of the very few Primary Montessori Schools in Ireland, Weston Primary Montessori School http://www.westonpm.com/, est. 2016 by the Parents & Teachers of the former Glebe School. This school provides a Montessori education to children from 3–12 years and is located on the grounds of Barnhall Rugby Club.

Sport and voluntary groups

The Celbridge GAA club is the third oldest club in Kildare being formed on 15 August 1885, eight months after the GAA was founded in Thurles. Celbridge play at senior level in both codes. They won their first Kildare Senior Football Championship in 2008 and the first Kildare Senior Hurling Championship in 1921.

The town has two association football clubs: Celbridge Town AFC, which was formed in 1959 and plays home games in St Patricks Park and Ballyoulster United FC, which was formed in 1968 and plays its home games at Louglinstown road.

Celbridge Elm Hall Golf Club is located adjacent to Celbridge / Hazelhatch railway station on the Loughlinstown Road.

Celbridge Paddlers canoe club is a multi-discipline kayaking club and evolved out of Vanessa Canoe Club. Formed in 1984, it is affiliated to the national governing body, the Irish Canoe Union. The annual Liffey Descent Canoe Race passes through Celbridge and where competitors have to navigate the Vanessa weir and Castletown rapids.

Celbridge Athletic Club was founded by Eamonn O'Keefe, a former International Athlete himself, in response to a need in Celbridge for some form of athletic coaching. He had about twenty athletes who he trained exclusively and who did very well. In the past 12 years the club has gone from strength to strength both in terms of the number of participating athletes, their success in National terms and International and the quality of coaching. In 1992 the club had about 30 athletes today it boasts over 140 active participants plus over twenty senior and masters.

Celbridge Rugby Club, founded by Fr Joseph Furlong, competed in the Towns Cup in 1928/29. Celbridge players compete in the All Ireland League.

Celbridge tennis club founded by EJ Connolly, Fr Joseph Furlong, Rev ELB Barker, Mrs Barker and Capt RJC Maunsell in 1923 established itself as the centre of social life in the district. The premises on the Hazelhatch Road were opened in the 1970s.

Celbridge equine racecourse is mentioned in the Freeman's Journal of 27 September 1763 and 4 October 1763 but was not in use after the end of the 18th century.

A cricket club was active 1880–1902. Kildare county polo club had their grounds on Castletown Estate 1901–1906. Among those who played polo in Celbridge was Prince Heinrich, younger brother to Kaiser William II.[6]



There is evidence of 5,000 years of habitation as evidenced by beads and quern stones in the National Museum from Griffinrath.[7]) and the nearby high ground sloping down to the Liffey. Recent research has linked Celbridge with the Slí Mór possibly crossing the Liffey at a ford located below the site of the mill directly east of the bridge rather than at Castletown House, as previously thought. The etymology of the church at Donaghcumper (church of the confluence, "Domhnach" is one of the earliest Irish words for church).[7]) suggests it may have existed as a monastic site from the 5th century. Folklore and heroic literature associate the north bank of Celbridge with both Saint Patrick (hill and church of uncertain antiquity in Ardrass).[7]) and Saint Mochua (c570), who was associated with a church in Tea Lane.[7]) and a well on the site of the current mill where pagan converts were baptised.

Parish of Kildrought

The original Kildrought parish church (built 14th century, burned 1798) stood in the present graveyard at Tea Lane and houses the mausoleums of the Dongan and Conolly families. It was granted by the Normans to the Abbey of St Thomas in Dublin. Donaghcumper Church (c1150) had windows of cut stone inserted into the building in the 14th century. Its ruins are extant in the main graveyard for the town of Celbridge on the Dublin road and members of the Alan family are buried in the church vault.

The modern Catholic parish of Celbridge and Straffan comprises the mediæval parishes of Kildrought and Straffan as well as the former parishes of Stacumny, Donaghcumper, Killadoon, Castledillon and Kilmacredock.

Town of Kildrought

The town of Kildrought or Kildroighid developed around the castle, monastery and mill of Kildrought which Thomas de Hereford, the Norman Lord of Kildrought erected early in the 13th century. The one long street running between the de Hereford Castle and lands of Castletown, and the mill, had taken shape by 1314 when Henry le Waleys was charged at a Naas court of "breaking the doors" of houses in the town of Kildrought and by night "taking geese, hens, beer and other victuals" against the will of the people of the town.

By the time of the Down Survey (1654–56) the population was 102 and the Dongan family were in possession of all the land in Celbridge. Killadoon House was the home of John Dongan's brother in law Richard Talbot, 1st Earl of Tyrconnell. Dongan died at the Battle of the Boyne and is buried in Tea Lane cemetery. Talbot died immediately before the Siege of Limerick. His widow remained in Killadoon, outliving the two men who took over the town from her husband and John Dongan, Bartholmew Van Homrigh and William Conolly.

Kildrought to Celbridge

The present day houses in Celbridge Main Street and town centre were built over a period of two hundred years. Celbridge Abbey was built in 1703 by a Dutch Williamite emigre, Bartholmew Van Homrigh. He was appointed Chief Commissioner for Stores in Ireland for the victorious allied forces of William and Mary who defeated the Jacobite alliance, and enforced the Treaty of Limerick in 1691. He moved to Kildrought Manor in 1695. When William Conolly purchased the rundown Castletown Estate in 1709 from Thomas Dongan, the restored Earl of Limerick and later Governor of New York, he complained that "all the Earl's tenants were beggars". Conolly built his new mansion at Castletown, cleared the existing tenantry and began to develop the town. Improvers and speculative developers followed Conolly to Celbridge. The new leases were granted on condition that the builders erect substantial stone houses with gable ends and two chimneys, replacing mud cabins and waste ground.

Existing mercantile buildings such as the 17th-century Market House, where the town's first school was based in 1709, were incorporated into the expanding mill complex of buildings near the bridge. Developers began to survey e green field sites to the north east of the bridge in the direction of Castletown House. The result was to move the axis of Celbridge away from the bridge, corn and tuck mill and road to St Mochua's church to a new Main Street.

Celbridge's 18th-century bridge had to be rebuilt after it was destroyed in a flood in December 1802.[8]

Historic buildings and places

Celbridge Main Street

The development of the Main Street commenced with the building of Kildrought House by Joseph Rotheny in 1720 for Robert Baillie, a Dublin upholsterer who was William Conolly's greatest prospect as an improving tenant. A large extension, which included a malt house, was added after Baillie sold in 1749. Kildrought house became home to John Begnall's Academy after 1782. Among the attendees were the sons of Col George Napier, George, Charles, William and Henry, later to be collectively known as "Wellington's Colonels, " and their younger brother Richard Napier, and John Jebb (1775–1833), later Church of Ireland bishop of Limerick, Ardfert, and Aghadoe. Jeremiah Haughton, owner of the Mill lived there after 1818. For a time in the early 19th century Kildrought House had a cholera hospital attached to it and served as the local police barracks from 1831 to 1841 when the barrack moved to the site of the current Michaelangelo's restaurant. After 1861 it was leased by Richard Maunsell of Oakley Park. Next door is the courthouse where the local petty sessions took place every fourth week.[9] It later became home of Lloyd Christian, athletics pioneer and colleague of Michael Cusack in the hurling revival of the 1880s.

Celbridge Main Street

No 22 Main Street, the original home of Conolly's second agent George Finey was occupied by Richard Guinness for a time and his sons Arthur, founder of the Guinness brewery, and Samuel. Richard married Elizabeth Clere, proprietor of the White Hart Inn, a public house at the site of the current Londis supermarket. Finey's successor as Conolly's agent, Dublin cabinetmaker Charles Davis, built Jessamine Lodge, an impressive fivebay house with a weather vane on the junction of Main Street and the Maynooth Road (1750). It was home to seven generations of Mulligans until 1992. One of the Mulligans had the decorative iron arch to the entrance gate constructed from material salvaged from the GPO Dublin after the 1916 Rebellion The Castletown Inn stands where Isaac Annesley, the early 18th century master stonemason lived. One of the oldest houses in the town. No 59 next door, was renovated in the latter half of the 18th century for Thomas Conolly's huntsman. Christopher Barry's Auctioneers was built in 1840 by Richard Nelson and let to Chief Constable Marley, it replaced an old dwellinghouse with stables and offices where William Wadsworth, the original Irish Straw Manufacturer and exporter lived and operated at the end of the 19th century. On the corner of the Main Street and Liffey Bridge, Broe's house and shop (1773) is now the Bank of Ireland. Mattew Gogarty came from Clondalkin in 1818 and established his shop on the other side of the street. James Carberry's Brewery (1709) later became Coyles and eventually Norris's and the Village Inn. Roseville was built in 1796.

Other notable buildings on Main Street include the Catholic Church (1857), the Holy Faith convent (1877) and Christ Church (Church of Ireland, 1884) which retains the tower of an earlier church (1813). Castletown gates at the end of the street were built in 1783 after a design inspired by Batty Langley. According to research by local historian Lena Boylan, the work was by a stonemason named Coates and a blacksmith named Behan.

Temple Mills

The oldest mill in the area is Temple Mills,[10] operated by the Tyrrell family for 300 years, a mile outside the town on the Ardclough Road.[7]). Joseph Shaw's flax and flour mills was a major employer in the town[11] until its closure after the death of William Shaw.[12][13]

Templeplace: a vanished settlement

The now disappeared "town" of Templeplace is recording as having a population of 279 in 1841, 310 in 1851, 382 in 1861, 402 in 1871 and was, after 1881, included in the townland of Newtown "on which it stood" as it "did not contain 20 inhabited houses." A footnote to the census returns comments "the decline in population is attributed to the discontinuance of the flax mill". The population of Newtown in 1891 was 128, down from 145.[14]

Celbridge Mill

The Mill

The Manor Mills (built by Louisa Conolly in 1785-8, extended by Laurence Atkinson 1805, restored 1985) incorporate parts of the old Celbridge Market House. It was purchased by Jeremiah and Thomas Houghton after Atkinson's bankruptcy in 1815.[15] When the Houghton partnership became bankrupt in 1818 Jeremiah took charge of the operation.[16] Houghton told a parliamentary committee that this mill was the biggest wool manufactory in Ireland.[17] the mill was described as employing several hundred people when King George IV visited Celbridge in August 1821[18] and the description "biggest wool manufactory in Ireland" was repeated in the 1845 Parliamentary Gazeteer. It employed 600 people at full capacity, some of them children who were eight and nine years of age. Workers from Yorkshire who came to work in the mill lived in Tea Lane (so called because of the amount of discarded tea leaves on the street) and English Row. The closure of the mills in 1879 caused the population of Celbridge to plunge from a 19th-century peak of 1,674 in 1861 (1,391 in 1871) to 988 in 1881 and a low of 811 in 1891[19][20]

Under the Irish Government regeneration scheme of the 1930s, the Leinster Hand Weaving Company acquired the premises for conversion into a weaving mill.[21] Celbridge woollen mill was operated by Youghal carpets (acquired 1966,[22] workforce extended from 120 jobs in October 1969.[23]). It was a major employer until its closure in May 1982 with the loss of 220 jobs. This ended two centuries of intermittent wool production in the village. The mill now serves as a community centre. Its warehouses which bear a wallmount dating the Mill to 1785, and a stone commemorating the site of St Mochua's well.

Mills at Coneyburrow (Newbridge, near St Wolstan's)[7]) were granted to Robert Randall, Dublin paper maker, in 1729, and were later converted for use as a flourmill.[24][25]


After Richard Guinness married Elizabeth Read (1698–1742), of a brewing family from Bishopscourt and an aunt of Arthur Guinness, he took over the town brewery in 1722 and moved it from the site of the Village Inn to where the entrance forecourt of the Holy Faith convent is today[26] There he placed his land steward Richard Guinness in charge of production of "a brew of a very palatable nature". In 1752, Dr Price's estate bequeathed £100 to Richard's son, the 27-year-old Arthur Guinness to help him expand the brewery, first in 1755 on a new site in Leixlip and from 1759 in St James's Gate in Dublin.[27] Some of the blocked up doors from the original PriceGuinness brewery can still be seen on the perimeter walls of the Catholic Church forecourt.[28]


Celbridge workhouse was constructed between 1839 and 1841 and is the smallest of three workhouses in County Kildare. It was built at a cost of stg£6,800 and was designed to house 519 people from Celbridge, Lucan, Rathcoole, Leixlip, Maynooth and Kilcock, an area containing 25,424 people.

A site on the Maynooth road has a memorial to between 1,500 and 2,500 inmates who died and were buried there during the Great Famine of 1845/47, recently restored by the community. According to Tony Doohan's "History of Celbridge" during the worst of this disaster, a human being died every hour. Another historian Seamus Cummins suggests that the effects of the famine in the Celbridge Poor Law District area were less traumatic than elsewhere (such as south Kildare) because of the availability of wage economy employment in the district.

After the 1860s the workhouse was used as a fever hospital, regarded as progressive for its time, as a home for the elderly and infirm, and for unmarried mothers. Orphans and illegitimate children were fostered out into the village community from the workhouse and also from the Holy Faith convents in Dublin.

The workhouse is now a paint shop.

Former Methodist Hall

The cut stone former Methodist Hall on Ardclough Road fell into disrepair during the 1980s but was acquired and renovated by Cunninghams Funeral Directors in the mid-1990s.

Other industry

John Wynn Baker (c.1730–1775), agricultural improver and writer, established the first factory in Ireland in 1765 with the financial assistance of the Dublin Society on a 354-acre property at Elm Hall on the Loughlinstown Road near the newly constructed Grand Canal at Hazlehatch for manufacturing agricultural implements.

One of Celbridge's most original industries was the Callender Paper Company established in Celbridge in 1903 to make paper from peat. Despite the report in the Irish Times of 25 June 1904 that facilities of the company were "totally inadequate to cope with demand" and that "Celbridge peat paper is finding its way into almost every village and hamlet in Ireland" the enterprise had already run into financial trouble by November 1904.

In 1977 French electrical group Telemecanigue invested £6m in establishing a factory on the Maynooth Road, employing 500 people at peak. Schneider MGTE group closed the factory in September 2003.

Notes and references

  1. "CENSUS OF POPULATION 2016 - PRELIMINARY RESULTS" (PDF). Central Statistics Office Census 2016 Reports. Central Statistics Office (Ireland). July 2016. http://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/ep/p-cpr/censusofpopulation2016-preliminaryresults/geochan/. Retrieved 9 June 2011. 
  2. "Cill Droichid/Celbridge". logainm.ie. http://www.logainm.ie/25290.aspx. Retrieved 7 May 2015. 
  3. "Celbridge - Towns & Villages - Lewis's Topographical Dictionary 1837 - History & Heritage - Kildare". kildare.ie. http://kildare.ie/Heritage/lewis-topographical-dictionary/celbridge.asp. Retrieved 7 May 2015. 
  4. "Green Light For New Celbridge Community School". KFMRadio. 4 July 2015. http://www.kfmradio.com/news/04072015-1309/green-light-new-celbridge-community-school. Retrieved 18 May 2017. 
  5. "St Wolstan's Community School". stwolstans.ie. http://www.stwolstans.ie. Retrieved 7 May 2015. 
  6. Irish Times, 24 May 1902
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 7.5 "US Gazetteer files: 2010, 2000, and 1990". United States Census Bureau. 12 February 2011. http://www.census.gov/geo/www/gazetteer/gazette.html. Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  8. The Morning Chronicle (London, England), Friday, 10 December 1802; Issue 10471.
  9. A History of Celbridge by Tony Doohan (Celbridge Community Council 1984)
  10. Boylan, Lena, 'The Mills of Kildrought', JKAS, Vol 15 No 2, 1972, p154155
  11. Irish Times, 27 September 1865
  12. Irish Times, 4 October 1871
  13. Irish Times, 9 March 1888
  14. Census Returns 1881 p. 260
  15. Liverpool Mercury etc (Liverpool, England), Friday, 4 June 1813; Issue 101
  16. The Morning Chronicle (London), Friday, 25 September 1818
  17. Select Committee on Petitions of Clothiers, Woollen Manufacturers, Weavers and Drapers of Ireland, on Alnage Laws. Report, Minutes of Evidence, Appendix 1817 (315) p. 5
  18. Freeman's Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser (Dublin, Ireland), Tuesday, 19 June 1821
  19. Footnote to the census returns, 1891.
  20. Irish Times, 25 August 1881
  21. Irish Times, 3 October 1934
  22. Irish Times, 1 June 1966
  23. Irish Times, 18 October 1969
  24. Boylan, Lena, Celbridge Charter, No. 177, May 1988
  25. Phillips, James W, Printing & Bookselling in Dublin, 1670-1800, Dublin, 1998
  26. "Co. Kildare Online Electronic History Journal". kildare.ie. http://www.kildare.ie/library/ehistory/2009/09/some_key_dates_in_celbridge_hi.asp. Retrieved 7 May 2015. 
  27. Patrick Guinness; Arthur's Round: The Life and Times of brewing legend Arthur Guinness. Peter Owen, London 2008; pp. 17–20, 218.
  28. Maura Galagher: A tour of Celbridge

Outside links

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