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Irish: Cill Dara
County Kildare
St Brigid's Cathedral Kildare - - 250948.jpg
Saint Brigid's Cathedral
Grid reference: N726124
Location: 53°9’28"N, 6°54’41"W
Population: 8,142  (2011[1])
Post town: Kildare
Postcode: R51
Local Government
Council: Kildare–Newbridge MD
Kildare South

Kildare is a town in County Kildare. Its population of 8,412 (as at the 2011 census)[2] makes it the eighth largest town in County Kildare and the 55th largest in the state, with a growth rate of 8% since the 2006 census. Although Kildare gives its name to the county, Naas is the county town. The town lies on the R445 road, some 30 miles west of Dublin – near enough for it to have become, despite being a regional centre in its own right, a commuter town for the capital.


Founding by Saint Brigid

Rich in heritage and history, Kildare Town dates from the 5th Century, when it was the site of the original 'Church of the Oak' and monastery founded by Saint Brigid. This became one of the three most important Christian foundations in Celtic Ireland.

It was said that Brigid's mother was a Christian and that Brigid was reared in her father's family, that is with the children of his lawful wife. From her mother, Brigid learned dairying and the care of the cattle, and these were her occupations after she made a vow to live a life of holy chastity. Both Saint Mel of Ardagh and Bishop Mac Caille have been credited with the consecration of Brigid and some companions, after which the woman established a community beneath an oak tree, on a hill on the edge of the Curragh. Hence the name Cill Dara, the church of the oak.

Not too far away, on Dún Ailinne, lived the King of Leinster who had donated the site to the holy woman. A story told was that the King had offered Brigid as much land as her cloak would cover. When she spread her garment it miraculously stretched out to embrace the entire Curragh. True to his promise, the King gave her the fertile plain, and there the new community grazed their sheep and cows.

Milestone in early motorsport

Kildare Castle

On Thursday, 2 July 1903 the Gordon Bennett Cup ran through Kildare. It was the first international motor race to be held in the United Kingdom, an honorific to Selwyn Edge who had won the 1902 event in Paris driving a Napier. The Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland wanted the race to be hosted in the islands, and their secretary, Claude Johnson, suggested Ireland as the venue because racing was illegal on British public roads. The editor of the Dublin Motor News, Richard Mecredy, suggested an area in County Kildare, and letters were sent to 102 Irish MPs, 90 Irish peers, 300 newspapers, 34 chairmen of county and local councils, 34 County secretaries, 26 mayors, 41 railway companies, 460 hoteliers, 13 PPs, plus the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, Patrick Foley, who pronounced himself in favour. Local laws had to be adjusted, ergo the 'Light Locomotives (Ireland) Bill' was passed on 27 March 1903. Kildare and other local councils drew attention to their areas, whilst Queen's County declared That every facility will be given and the roads placed at the disposal of motorists during the proposed race. Eventually Kildare was chosen, partly on the grounds that the straightness of the roads would be a safety benefit. As a compliment to Ireland the British team chose to race in Shamrock green which thus became known as British racing green, although the winning Napier of 1902 had been painted Olive green.[3][4][5][6]

The route consisted of two loops that comprised a figure of eight, the first was a 52-mile loop that included Kilcullen, The Curragh, Kildare, Monasterevin, Stradbally, Athy, followed by a 40-mile loop through Castledermot, Carlow, and Athy again. The race started at the Ballyshannon cross-roads (53°5’7"N, 6°49’12"W) near Calverstown on the contemporary N78 heading north, then followed the N9 north; the N7 west; the N80 south; the N78 north again; the N9 south; the N80 north; the N78 north again. Competitors were started at seven-minute intervals and had to follow bicycles through the 'control zones' in each town. The 328-mile race was won by the famous Belgian Camille Jenatzy, driving a Mercedes in German colours.[4][7]

Annalistic references

  • AI697.1 Kl. Repose of Forannán of Cell Dara. [AU 698].
  • AI733.1 Kl. Repose of the daughter of Corc, coarb of Brigit.
  • AI758.1 Kl. Murthán, abbots of Cell Dara, fell asleep.
  • AI964.1 Kl. The plundering of Cell Dara by the foreigners of Áth Cliath; and the female erenagh died in the same year.
  • AI1031.9 Cell Dara and Port Láirge were burned.

Places of interest

  • St Brigid's Cathedral and Norman tower House in the town center
  • St Brigid's Well on the outskirts of the town,
  • Father Moore's Well on the Milltown Road
  • The National Stud and Japanese Gardens.
  • The Curragh Race Course just outside the town
  • Kildare Village is a shopping outlet located on the outskirts of Kildare Town and has become a large shopping and tourist attraction.

Sports clubs

Round Towers GAA is the local Gaelic Athletic Association club, founded in 1888. The local association football club is Kildare Town A.F.C., who play at Rathbride Road. Cill Dara RFC, founded in 1976 are the local rugby union side. They play at Beech Park. There is also an American football team, South Kildare Soldiers, founded in 2012 who play at Kildare Town's Rathbride Road.


An express bus service between Dublin and Cork calls at Kildare, whilst coach services operate to Dublin Airport and Portlaoise.

Kildare railway station is located on the Dublin-Cork mainline and is served by the south-western commuter service.

Notable people

Michael Corcoran (died 1819) was parish priest of Kildare and afterwards Roman Catholic Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin.


Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Kildare)