On a whim my little family decided to take a trip to Kildare last Saturday afternoon. “Kildare Town dates from the 5th Century, when it was the site of the original ‘Church of the Oak’ and monastery founded by St. Brigid. This became one of the three most important Christian foundations in Celtic Ireland.”(http://www.kildaretown.ie/history/history-text.asp)
We passed the overflowing parking lot of Kildare village and headed into the town proper to see Saint Brigid’s Cathedral. I had been there once before but it was my husband’s first trip. Arriving at the little parking lot in front of the church we were delighted not to have to pay for parking since it was a weekend but soon disappointed when we realized the gate was locked and church shut. I went up to the tall, wide, gate and stuck my camera between the irons to snap a photo and then turned to leave. However, as we were just walking away a kind man standing at a distance shouted, “Just open the gate, it’s not locked.” Though there was a very large chain with lock wrapped around the gate, my husband found the man was right, it was simply wrapped around to appear as though locked, but the gate opened easily with a little unwinding of the heavy chain. We wandered around the cemetery and beautiful cathedral. At the back standing tall was the round tower dating back to somewhere between the 10th and 12th centuries; this is one of five round towers in County Kildare, and among the very few that you are actually able to climb. I believe the fee to climb it is approximately €6. This time we were unable to go inside the cathedral, but from previous experience, it is definitely worth looking at with its beautifully carved wooden cathedral ceiling, full pipe organ and unique stain glass windows. There is also a lovely little gift and book shop along with some interesting historical models to give you an overview of the history of the place. A helpful volunteer or two can be found near the entry to answer questions and show you how to ring the steeple bell. There is a box for donations to help with the upkeep of the place, but no entry fee is required.
Across from the parking area is a little visitor information shop that is worth checking out. They have many free resources to help you decide where you want to go next, and a little gift shop that boasts a few fine pieces of Irish jewelry, calendars, and the like.
After our short tour of the grounds we decided to head to Kildare Village, about a 2-5 minute drive back towards the motorway. Kildare Village is an outlet shopping center that boasts of many fine shops, such as Cath Kidston, Tommy Hilfiger, Le Creuset, Nike, Diesel, Boss, Clarks, etc. etc. This particular Saturday the village was packed with shoppers. The restaurant and coffee shops were full. During this time of year there are often sales up to 75% off. Noel and I had no plans to shop; we just wanted to enjoy someplace different for a change. The village is beautifully decorated with shrubs and flower arrangements of holly and heather along with lights and cobblestone paths. There is a nice park at the back along with a lighted wooden walkway leading up to an old ruins. Our first stop was to the little crepe stand on the outskirts of the village. Our purchase of the day was a mouth watering hot cherry cheesecake crepe; I think it cost about €5.50. The three of us enjoyed sharing it as we walked around looking at all the pretty decorations. We found the park and our baby girl had fun playing on the slide exploring the fountain and running up and down the walkway. All in all, I’d say it was a lovely way to pass an afternoon. If you’re in the neighborhood…plan to make a stop.