South Kildare is an area
well worth visiting for those interested in the history of Ireland. Click on the links
below to discover more about the historical attractions of each area.
In the ancient
Heritage Town of Athy, visit the Heritage Centre in the Town Hall, built in the early 18th
Century. Here you can trace the history of Athy, the Anglo-Norman town on the
Marches of Kildare, which was founded almost 800 years ago.
From Athy it is
only a short drive to Kilkea Castle, ancient seat of the Earls of Kildare. Take the
road to Kilcullen and a right turn along the R418. Kilkea is the oldest inhabited castle
in Ireland and now is a luxury hotel.
minutes from Kilkea Castle along the same R418, was an early Christian monastic
settlement. In the grounds of St. James's Church you will find two unique granite High
Crosses, and the 10th Century Round Tower. Nearby are the remains of the Franciscan
Moone is one of the oldest inhabited areas in Kildare, with
evidence of settlement going back 6000 years. In the sixth century St. Colmcille
founded a monastery here. From Castledermot take the Dublin road to the
village. In the centre of the village follow the road that passes through the pillars of
Belan House to visit one of Kildare's most important historical monuments, the 8th
century Moone High Cross.
The village of
Timolin once was the site of an ancient manastery. Very little of this remains today.
However, an old mill in the centre of the village stand over the monastery site and is
today a private business making pewter. Here the old craft of pewter making was
re-established after centuries in limbo.
Ballitore is the
only planned and permanent Quaker Settlement in Ireland. Established by Quakers from
Yorkshire around 1685 Ballitore contains several historical buildings. Among the
more notable of these are the recently restored home of Mary Shackleton Leadbeater, who
chronicled the main events of the village in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and
The Meeting House, built around 1708 which is now a library containing a Quaker Museum.
From the village
follow the signpost to Crookstown Corn Mill, a delightful building of local
limestone which lies in the Greese Valley. The mill was built in 1840 and today
houses a heritage centre with unusual and interesting displays of industrial archaeology.
Take the R418 road from Crookstown and Ballitore to Athy. On the
N79 main Kilcullen to Athy road the Moat of Ardscull is situated in a commanding
position, affording extensive views in all directions. The Moat is a large
oval-shaped mound, surrounded by a ditch and bank which was built in the late 12th or
early 13th centuries. The site contains a recently developed picnic area which has
become a popular spot with locals and tourists alike.