Gaelic: Léim an Bhradáin
The Wonderful Barn, Leixlip
Leixlip is a town in north-east County Kildare, adjacent to the border with County Dublin and close to that of Meath. Its location on the confluence of the River Liffey and the Rye Water has marked it as a frontier town historically: on the border between the ancient kingdoms of Leinster and Brega, as an outpost of The Pale, and today on Kildare's border with Dublin.
The placename comes from the Old Norse Lax Hlaup which means "salmon leap". The name in Irish (Léim an Bhradáin) is a direct translation of this, and was first adopted in the 1890s.
Leixlip was the site of the famous Battle of Confey, in which the Viking King Sigtrygg Caech of Dublin defeated the Irish King of Leinster around the year 917. The first settlement at Leixlip was an outpost of Early Scandinavian Dublin, built at the furthest point where longships could be rowed up the Liffey. Its status as an outpost of Dublin continued for centuries, marking a border of The Pale.
The town was home to Arthur Guinness's first brewery in 1755, where he brewed ales until he moved on to St James's Gate Brewery, Dublin in 1759
The first history of the town was published in 2005.
Dublin Bus provides an extensive service to Leixlip. Between the 66/A/B, Leixlip has a bus service in either direction typically at 15-minute intervals.
From Dublin city centre: the number 66 goes to Maynooth via Leixlip village; the number 66A bus goes to Leixlip Confey via Leixlip village; and the number 66B goes to Leixlip HP via Leixlip village. All buses have equivalent return routes back to Dublin.
The number 66X "Xpresso" provides an express bus service from varying parts of the town directly into Dublin City centre in the mornings, and return in the evenings. The number 66N "Nitelink" provides a late night service on Friday and Saturday night from Dublin City centre to Leixlip, including Captain's Hill.
Leixlip is connected to the railway network on the Dublin-Sligo railway line, running from Dublin Connolly to Sligo, with two stations, Leixlip (Louisa Bridge), opened on 1 September 1848, and Leixlip (Confey), opened on 2 July 1990, located at either end of the town. While InterCity services to Sligo do not serve the town, the Maynooth/Longford Commuter services do, the frequency of the trains peaking in the mornings and evenings. Some of these services continue outbound to Mullingar and Longford. Leixlip has the distinction of being the only town in the Republic of Ireland with two operational railway stations.
Leixlip Castle is built on a rock at the confluence of the River Liffey and the Rye Water, the central part of the castle dates from 1172, just after the Norman Invasion of 1171 and is one of the oldest continuously-inhabited buildings in Ireland, pre-dating Dublin Castle by 30 years. It was used as a hunting base by King John when Lord of Ireland in 1185. It was not of major military importance but withstood a four-day siege by the army of Edward Bruce in 1316.
Bought by judge Nicholas White in 1567, it remained in his family until 1728, when Leixlip and 809 acres around it including the castle was then bought by William Conolly of nearby Castletown House for £12,000. His family sold it in 1914. Various famous tenants of the Conollys in the castle included Archbishop Stone, the Protestant Primate (1750s), the Viceroy Lord Townshend (1770s), Lord Waterpark, and Baron de Robeck (who drowned at the Salmon Leap). In the 1920s it was the residence of the first French ambassador to the Irish Free State. In 1945 the castle was sold to William Kavanagh, prior to the purchase in April 1958 by The Hon. Desmond Guinness.
Located off the main street of nearby Celbridge, Castletown House is the first grand Palladian House in Ireland – the design of the building led to the construction of Leinster House and from thence to the White House in Washington, D.C.. Begun in 1722 by Speaker William Conolly (1662–1729), Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, the lands and the house itself lie in Celbridge, however there is also an entrance from Leixlip, hence there are two modern housing estates bearing the Castletown name, one in each town. To mark the eastern vista of Castletown a conical shaped building – The Wonderful Barn – was constructed in 1743 with the stairs ascending around the exterior of the building.
St Catherine's Priory was an important monastery in the Middle Ages.
A further point of interest is Confey Castle, which the British Publisher and Cartographer Samuel Lewis, mentions in the first volume of his 1837 opus A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland. In it he comments that Confey's (or Confoy as he spells it) population was 165, had formerly had a town and a castle of some importance, which were noticed by Camden. Of the tower's remains were a massive five-storey structure with turrets at the north and west angles; that at the north angle containing a winding staircase opening through pointed arches into each storey. The principal entrance was under a semicircular archway. In the war of 1688 the castle is said to have been strongly garrisoned, and to have sustained an attack.
Also of note is Leixlip Spa, a spa found by workmen working on the construction of the Royal Canal, which runs through Leixlip.
Leixlip's main attraction in the past was the Salmon Leap, from which the town is named, a 16ft waterfall on the Liffey just upstream from the then village. This was a popular place for Dubliners wanting a day out in the country, and the Salmon Leap Inn was built to refresh them. A hydroelectric dam was completed in 1945 and its lake flooded the waterfall. The dam generates 5,000 hp.
Leixlip is divided into two Roman Catholic Church parishes, Leixlip (Our Lady's Nativity) and Confey (St Charles Borromeo), each with its own parish church. The Church of Ireland parish of St Mary's also has a church in Leixlip, located in Main Street. This mediæval church was restyled in the 1750s with Gothic windows, and its belltower clock dates from 1720. People from Our Lady's Nativity parish also have their own identity separate from people in the Confey parish. The Confey parish members are known as 'Hillers' and people from the Our Lady's Nativity parish are known as 'farenders'. There is the usual local rivalry associated with two different parishes which is particularly evident during sporting events.
Education and library
As with religion and sport, education in Leixlip is divided by the two Catholic parishes of Leixlip (Our Lady's Nativity) and Confey (St Charles Borromeo).
The respective schools in the Confey district are Confey Community College (a community school), Scoil San Carlo (Junior), and San Carlo Senior School (both national schools). The community school of Confey College has approximately 600 pupils in total, and similarly to Colaiste Chiarain is mixed gender and non-denominational. The name "San Carlo", while used as the Irish names of the national schools in the St Charles Borromeo parish, is actually the Italian rather than actual Irish translation (which would be "Naomh Cathal").
Leixlip also has one of the very few Primary Montessori Schools in Ireland, Weston Primary Montessori School, 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.
A modern public library opened in Leixlip in May 2006. It is situated in Confey beside the Town Council Office. It is also near both Scoil San Carlo and Confey railway station. Among the material library members may borrow from the library include books, DVDs, CDs, computer games and language packs. Leixlip Library hosts a huge variety of events and activities throughout the year. The library also offers free Internet access to library members. Library membership is free to anyone under 18 years of age, while a small membership charge exists for those over 18.
The town is not a major retail centre, but there are three supermarkets – a SuperValu, SPAR, and Lidl. The Liffey Valley Shopping Centre is a short drive down the N4, and Leixlip is also within easy reach of Dublin city centre's wide variety of shops, as well as the Blanchardstown shopping centre.
The Leixlip Festival (previously known as the Salmon Festival) has taken place every year since 1990 on the June bank holiday weekend. It offers live entertainment in pubs, a number of open-air concerts, and also a street carnival.
Most notably, in 1995 the Festival Committee decided to include 'The Arrival of the Vikings' as a theme for the festival. It was decided to invite Viking Re-Enactment groups from the UK to participate in the weekends festivities in full Viking dress and to stage mock battles.
The committee, in conjunction with FAS who at the time provided resources to organise and stage the festival, decided to build a Viking replica ship which would be burnt in a battle re-enactment on the banks of the Liffey on the festival closing night with a fireworks display. Three members of the organising team, with the aid of two FAS carpenters spent 5–6 weeks constructing the to-scale replica ship at the Wonderful Barn site in Leixlip. For the festival, the boat was transferred to the banks of the Liffey in the centre of Leixlip village, where as planned it was ceremoniously burnt on the Festival Sunday night.
The fireworks display continues to take place on the Sunday night since 1995.
Leixlip Salmon Festival Limited also provides a youth training scheme in association with Foras Áiseanna Saothair. In recent years the festival has played host to bands such as The Coronas, Aslan, The Blizzards, The Hothouse Flowers, Republic of Loose, Delorentos and The Riptide Movement. Solo artists have also performed including Damien Dempsey and Niall Breslin. The festival also gives local talent the opportunity to showcase their music.
Leixlip's leading employer is Intel, who own a complex consisting of Fabs (fabrication plant) 10 & 14 (IFO), 24, and 24-2 of Intel's manufacturing operations. Hewlett-Packard is the other main local employer. Most other employment in Leixlip is in retail and the licence trade (see below for details).
- Lily Allen, recording artist, actress and fashion designer lived in Leixlip as a child and attended school there.
- Trevor Brennan, Irish international rugby player
- Emma Byrne, Republic of Ireland women's national football team and Arsenal goalkeeper
- Jake Carroll, professional footballer, attended secondary school at Confey College in Leixlip.
- Thomas Conolly, MP of both the Parliament of Great Britain (1759-1780) and Parliament of Ireland (1761-1800), was born in Leixlip
- David Geraghty, musician and member of Bell X1
- Matt Goff, soldier during the Irish War of Independence and full-back for Kildare in six All-Ireland finals
- Arthur Guinness, co-owner with his brother Richard of the brewery business in Leixlip. Richard lived on the town's Main Street, and was the landlord of the Salmon Leap Inn.
- David Matthews, athlete and current holder of the Irish 800 metres record
- Catherine Murphy, politician, member of Dáil Éireann and co-leader/co-founder of the Social Democrats (Ireland)
- Enda Murphy, former Kildare Gaelic football captain, and has represented Ireland in the International Rules Series
- Jack O'Shea, Kerry Gaelic footballer
- Arthur Price, Archbishop of Cashel, and benefactor of Guinness is buried beneath the aisle of St Mary's Church, Leixlip.
Le Chéile Athletic Club was founded in 2003 to offer the youth of Leixlip, Maynooth and surrounding areas (aged 7 and older) the opportunity to partake, regardless of their ability, in all athletics disciplines at a club, county and national level. The club trains at their facility at the Leixlip Amenities Centre.
Salmon Leap Canoe Club founded in 1963 is located on the banks of Leixlip Lake. Members of the club have represented Ireland at every Olympic Games from 1972 to 2008. The club is the most successful sprint and marathon club canoe club in Ireland having won the Riba de Sella trophy more times than any other club. The club has over 150 active canoeists. One inspiration for the club was the international Liffey Descent canoe race from Straffan to Dublin, which passes through Leixlip and celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2009.
Leixlip has two Gaelic Athletic Association clubs, Leixlip GAA founded in 1887 and Confey GAA founded recently in 1989. People from the St Mary's parish also have their own identity separate from people in the Confey parish.
There are five amateur association football clubs, Confey F.C., Leixlip United F.C., Leixlip Town FC, Barnhall Rovers and Liffey Athletic. Confey FC and Leixlip United FC both participate in Dublin District leagues (or in the case of both clubs' senior teams the Leinster Senior Football League). Leixlip Town FC on the other hand participate in the UCFL Dublin League. While Barnhall Rovers and Liffey Athletic compete in the Kildare & District Football League.
Barnhall Rugby Football Club, a rugby union club, which competes in the All-Ireland League is also located on the outskirts of the town in Parsonstown.
Liffey Celtics Basketball Club is the local basketball club for girls aged 7–18, and boys aged 7–16. Liffey Celtics has 16 (8 girls & 8 boys) underage basketball teams competing in the Dublin Area Board League and Cup competitions. Training and home matches take place at the Leixlip Amenities Centre, Confey GAA hall, and Colaiste Cois Life (Lucan). The club has a senior women's team competing in the Basketball Ireland Premier League.
Leixlip has been the host to coarse fishing competitions due to the permanently pegged stretch of the Royal Canal. The Leixlip stretch consists of 62 marked pegs and there is also the Confey stretch consisting of sixty pegs. Conditions are suited to both the pleasure and match angler. The Rye river runs through Carton Demesne and through the Intel Ireland site. The Leixlip stretch is controlled by the Leixlip and District Angling Association.
Golfing facilities are available at Elm Hall Golf Club on the Loughlinstown Road as well as two 18-hole pitch & putt courses.
- "Leixlip Legal Town Results". Central Statistics Office. 2011. http://census.cso.ie/sapmap2011/Results.aspx?Geog_Type=LT&Geog_Code=06010.
- "Leixlip Legal Town Results". Central Statistics Office. 2011. http://census.cso.ie/sapmap2011/Results.aspx?Geog_Type=LT&Geog_Code=06010.
- "Census 2011, Table 7, Population of each town of 1,500 population and over". Central Statistics Office. 2011. http://www.cso.ie/en/media/csoie/census/documents/census2011vol1andprofile1/Tables,7,and,12.pdf.
- Placenames Database of Ireland (see archival records)
- John Colgan, "Leixlip, County Kildare" (2005) ISBN 978-0-9507489-1-7
- "Leixlip Confey station". Railscot – Irish Railways. http://www.railscot.co.uk/Ireland/Irish_railways.pdf. Retrieved 5 September 2007.
- "Travel & Station Information". http://www.irishrail.ie/cat_stations_list.jsp?letter=L.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. https://web.archive.org/web/20110724062138/http://www.iaa.ie/safe_reg/iaip/Published%20Files/AIP%20Files/AD/EI_AD_2_EIWT_en.pdf. Retrieved 2012-04-27.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 14 May 2012. https://web.archive.org/web/20120514032423/http://www.esb.ie/main/about-esb/liffey-stations.jsp. Retrieved 2012-04-18.
- Cummins, Steve (9 July 2011). "Lily Allen: What's Up Tiger Lily?". http://www.stevecummins.com/interviews/lily-allen-whats-up-tiger-lily. "“He lives in Dunboyne, but I lived in Leixlip for about a year and a half,” she explains. "My mom was doing a film in Ireland called Hear My Song. I was really young, like six or seven at the time. Weirdly enough, he was in the same school as me in Leixlip, but we didn't meet again until something like eight or nine years later, which was a mad coincidence." [...] She says the warm feelings she has about Ireland are genuine and enduring.“I really love Ireland. My mom did another film there called Rat a couple of years ago and it was really nice to be back for a while. I like it because when you live in London, it takes so long to get into the country – whereas when you live in Dublin it's like 20 minutes. Even the city is so beautiful it feels like you're out in the country when you're in the city for some reason.""
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