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Cill Dara
Saint Brigid's Cathedral and Kildare as seen from the round tower
Saint Brigid's Cathedral and Kildare as seen from the round tower
Kildare is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Country Ireland
Province Leinster
County County Kildare
 • Total 3.1 km2 (1.2 sq mi)
105 m (344 ft)
 • Total 8,634
 • Density 2,790/km2 (7,210/sq mi)
Eircode routing key
Telephone area code +353(0)45
Irish Grid Reference N726124

Kildare (Irish: Cill Dara, meaning church of the oak) is a town in County Kildare, Ireland. As of 2016, its population was 8,634 making it the 7th largest town in County Kildare. The town lies on the R445, some 50 km (31 mi) 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. Although Kildare gives its name to the county, Naas is the county town.


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 Town and Surrounds
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 as it then existed, 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.

The route consisted of two loops that comprised a figure of eight, the first was a 52-mile (84 km) loop that included Kilcullen, The Curragh, Kildare, Monasterevin, Stradbally, Athy, followed by a 40-mile (64 km) loop through Castledermot, Carlow, and Athy again. The race started at the Ballyshannon cross-roads (53°05′07″N 6°49′12″W / 53.0853°N 6.82°W / 53.0853; -6.82) 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 miles (528 km) race was won by the famous Belgian Camille Jenatzy, driving a Mercedes in German colours.

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.


Kildare is served by the R445 and M7 roads. Aircoach operates an expressway service between Dublin and Cork which calls at Kildare, whilst Dublin Coach operates services to the Red Cow (with a connection to Dublin city centre), Dublin Airport and Portlaoise. The Dublin Coach service also has a stop at the "Kildare Village" retail outlet development. Go Ahead Ireland have two services through Kildare. 126 is Dublin-Kildare, 126e is Dublin-Rathangan.

Kildare railway station is located on the Dublin-Cork mainline railway line, with a connection to Waterford also, and options to change down the line for Limerick, Galway and Westport and Ballina. It is served by the south western commuter service as well. From the station, a community transport company serves Milltown, Nurney and Kildangan, there is a shuttle bus service to "Kildare Village" and on race days, also a shuttle bus to the Curragh Racecourse.

Sports clubs

Round Towers a local GAA club, was founded in 1888 and plays in the Kildare GAA league. Kildare Town A.F.C., a local association football (soccer) club, was founded in 1966 and plays in the Kildare & District Underage League.

Cill Dara RFC plays in the Leinster League and has its grounds at Beech Park. South Kildare Soldiers (an American Football team which plays in the Irish American Football League) is based at Rathbride Road.

Notable people

  • Aisling Bea (born 1984), actress, comedian and writer
  • Brigid of Kildare (451-525), founder of a double monastery in Kildare
  • Michèle Burke (born 1959), makeup artist and winner of two Oscars, born in Kildare town
  • George Cooper (1792–1867), the first Colonial Treasurer of New Zealand, born in Kildare
  • Michael Corcoran (died 1819), parish priest of Kildare and afterwards Roman Catholic Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin
  • Ray D'Arcy (born 1964), presenter for the RTE's show Ray D'Arcy Show
  • David Egan (born 1999), jockey

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See also

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