There are so many fun things to do in County Kildare and since Dublin and Kildare are neighbors, those things are readily accessible from Ireland's capital if you are short on time. You can easily spend a day exploring the top sights in Kildare. If you venture further to South Kildare, you'll find plenty to keep you occupied for a weekend, especially if you indulge yourself with a stay in Kilkea Castle Hotel. In this post, we'll explore things to do near Kilkea Castle in South Kildare County.
Getting to South Kildare
Kilkea Castle History
Things to do in South Kildare
1. Athy Town and Castle Walk
2. Athy Heritage Centre Shackleton Museum
We are fascinated by the history of Antarctic exploration. Sir Ernest Shackleton, one of the great names in polar exploration was born on a Quaker farm near Kilkea Castle. Today, the Athy Heritage Centre Shackleton Museum features permanent exhibits covering the life, adventures, and daring Antarctic rescue undertaken by Shackleton. The museum also features a car that ran the Gordon Bennett Cup Race. The race was held in Ireland (part of the UK at the time) because racing was illegal on British public roads. Due to these unique circumstances, this forerunner of Grand Prix racing took place in South Kildare Ireland in 1903. As you're driving around the roads of South Kildare, keep an eye out for Gordon Bennett Route signs and imagine what it would have been like to complete the series of circuits covering a total of more than 500 km in just 6 hours in a car open to the elements.
3. Kilkea Castle Grounds
When considering things to do near Kilkea Castle, don't overlook the castle itself! You can't get any more near than that... Take some time to walk the well-manicured grounds. Take a walk just after sunrise for some spectacular photo-ops. The River Griese flows just beyond the garden wall. Listen to the water burble as you admire golfers starting a round. You may even spot fellow guests indulging in a bit of falconry with some impressive birds of prey on display.
4. Fine Dining at Kilkea Castle
Kilkea Castle also offers a number of dining options. Treat yourself to dinner in Restaurant 1180 which is located inside the 12th century castle. Feel like royalty as you dine in the great hall and soak up the 12th century experience. Check the different rates if you are planning a stay at the hotel because some include a 3-course dinner with wine (and breakfast too!) at Restaurant 1180. For a more casual dining option, check out Hermione's Restaurant at the Clubhouse. Situated on the golf course in a multi-faceted glass dome, Hermione's is more about hearty steaks and beer than delicate fine dining. It's a great counterpoint to Restaurant 1180.
5. Burtown House and Gardens
6. Moone High Cross
7. Castledermot Round Tower and St. James Church
SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Are you interested in ideas for other places to combine with this short trip to Kilkea Castle in South Kildare? Why not spend a weekend in Kilkenny or take a drive in Tipperary? You could also take a detour from Kilkea Castle to visit Waterford and Wexford including the fabulous Wexford Wildfowl Reserve before returning to Dublin.
8. Castledermot Abbey
If the gate to Castledermot Abbey is locked, simply walk next door to get the key from Mr. Horan. At least that's what the sign says. Fortunately for us, the gate was open and we wandered in among the ruins. The Franciscan Friary at Castledermot dates back to the 13th century and has a storied history including being plundered by Robert Bruce's army in the early 14th century and being ransacked by Cromwellian forces in 1650. Today, you can enjoy the light playing off the stone arches and grand former windows open to the sky.