48 Hours in Kildare

Share
Waterways and boglands lend a natural beauty to this low-lying region – the River Liffey, Royal and Grand Canals all pass through Kildare, adding new ways to travel and explore. Experience a 48-hour break in horse country, and let the Thoroughbred County tell you its tales.
The Japanese Gardens at the National Stud in Kildare
Racing at the Curragh
The Tower at St Brigid's Cathedral
Left: The Japanese Gardens at the National Stud in Kildare | Middle: Racing at the Curragh | Right: The Tower at St Brigid's Cathedral

Kildare Town

Starting in Kildare Town, it’s easy to see how it's well known for its association with Ireland's famous Horse Racing industry. The National Stud, the Curragh and Punchestown Racecourse are all close to the town – and there is an overall 'horsey' feel to the area, with many farms and studs dotted around the countryside nearby. If you love horses, you will be in heaven.
 

Visit the National Stud and Japanese Gardens for a delightful day out learning about the legends of Ireland’s racing scene, and relaxing in the stunning gardens. Home to several of the world’s most admired steeds, here you can take a tour to get up close to some of these equestrian superstars. Learn about bloodlines and training methods as you explore the stud and the Horse Museum. Meanwhile, in both the Japanese-themed and St Fiachra’s gardens, you will find tranquillity and serenity to contrast with the activity of the stud.
 

Spend a day admiring these majestic beasts while soaking up the atmosphere at the Curragh Racecourse. The thundering hooves, the cheers of the crowd and the excitement in the air make horse racing a unique experience – and the Curragh is one of the best places on earth to enjoy this Sport of Kings.
 

Or go on a more spiritual jaunt with a visit to St Brigid’s Cathedral & Round Tower in the town. St Brigid is one of Ireland’s most significant saints, and a big part of her story was based in Kildare where she approached the King of Leinster requesting land to build a monastery. She was refused the site she wanted – but legend has it that after Brigid and her convent prayed for the King to change his mind, she proposed that he give her “as much land as my cloak will cover.”
 

The King saw her small cloak and laughingly agreed, but as Brigid and her helpers spread it out, it began to grow – covering enough land for her to build her monastery. Convinced that Brigid was a truly special woman, the King became a supporter of her and her church. The monastery was built near an oak tree around 470 AD and gave the town – and later the county – its name: Cill Dara, Irish for ‘the church of the oak tree’. 
 

Make sure you finish your day on a full stomach with a stop at Hartes of Kildare for some fine food and a craft beer, or satisfy your hunger at Silken Thomas in Kildare Town where you can eat, drink, dance and sleep!

People on a barge canal in Kildare
Exploring the grounds at Castletown House
Left: People traveling by barge on a canal in Kildare | Right: Exploring the grounds at Castletown House

Kildare County

It may be most famous for its four-legged transport, but the towns and villages of Kildare are easily accessed by an excellent network of public transport and roads – yet another alternative is a trip on one of its many waterways. Bargetrip.ie offer great journeys through the canals, and even have late afternoon or evening ‘Barge & Dine' cruise options, including bar service on board and a visit to the Kildare Brewing Company in Sallins.
 

Only 10 minutes’ walk from the Athy train station, Athy Boat Tours are another great way to take to the water in Kildare. Their fully wheelchair-accessible “Freedom on the Water” boat is available for hire for private parties, or for public tours lasting from one to five hours. Afternoon Tea is also an option – so you can sit back and watch the Kildare countryside drift by while sipping on a cuppa.
 

Back on dry land, take an excursion to discover the history of one of Ireland’s most famous explorers – Ernest Henry Shackleton – on a visit to the Athy Heritage Centre & Museum. Learn about his famous trip to the Antarctic and spark your own desire for adventure.
 

Back in Shackleton’s day, Kildare’s beautiful stately homes were private residences. Today, some – like Castletown House and Burtown House & Gardens – are open to the public, giving you a chance to get a glimpse of how the other half lived in days gone by.

At the Palladian-style Castletown House in Celbridge, you can wander around the extensive parklands and admire the stunning interiors – look out for the old temple and the remains of the bathing house as you amble through the gardens. While at Burtown House in Athy, where the 12 acres of outdoor space are a treat in themselves, an added bonus lies at the Green Barn organic restaurant, artisan food shop and retail area (just inside the front gates). Take time out to indulge in wonderful food, knowing that the ingredients for your meal are grown right outside in the walled kitchen garden.

Lullymore Heritage and Discovery Park
The Museum of Style Icons at Newbridge Silverware Museum
Left: Lullymore Heritage and Discovery Park | Right: The Museum of Style Icons at Newbridge Silverware Museum

Family Fun

Get (waterproof) suited and (Wellington) booted and head for Ireland’s largest bog, the Bog of Allen – where at the Bog of Allen Nature Centre you can learn about the country's 9,500 year history. Or visit the nearby Lullymore Heritage & Discovery Park – with exhibitions and trails to follow, an indoor forest-themed park and an outdoor pet farm, there are many fun activities to enjoy – something for all the family.


For an a-maze-ing adventure, take the family to The Kildare Maze near Prosperous. With two mazes, a zip wire and a play area suitable for small children among the attractions, a great day out will be had – no matter what age you are.

 

Shopping

Don’t forget to treat yourself to a memento of your trip – and where better to pick up a souvenir than at the shop in the Newbridge Silverware Museum? Home to stunning jewellery and silverware, the Museum in Newbridge gives you a chance to see the history of one of the country’s most famous brands. The Visitor Centre is also home to the Museum of Style Icons, housing exhibits of iconic clothing from famously fashionable faces ranging from Princess Diana to Marilyn Monroe.
 

For the dedicated fan of shopping, Kildare Village Outlet Shopping is a little slice of paradise. With over 80 boutiques, here you will find all the luxury brands at bargain prices – allowing you to indulge in some retail therapy without breaking the bank.

Don't miss Kildare

 

With such a wealth of things to do in Kildare, you'll want to return again and again to experience it all.
Enjoy your escape in Ireland’s Ancient East!

For more attractions and activities
check out the See & Do section