Places to visit that won’t cost you a penny!
28th July 2015
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Take a visit to a place that is right on your doorstep which would not be a place you would usually visit. There are plenty of places to visit and explore around Kildare that will cost you absolutely nothing in the local area and are both interesting and beautiful places to see.

Coolcarrigan Garden and Church – Coill Dubh

Built in the 1830’s this Georgian house was originally a shooting lodge but has been modified to now be a comfortable and modern family home for the 6th generation of descendants to occupy. It is a hidden oasis on the edge of the Bog of Allen. With 15 acres of grounds the garden here is full of rare and unusual trees and shrubs, a tree lined avenue and a small church which is surrounded by a moat. It is a truly magnificent place to visit. The church itself dates back to 1880 and contains some fascinating stained glass windows and the walls inside showcase old Gaelic script chosen by the first President of Ireland, Douglas Hyde. This church is still in use today and continues to hold Sunday service on a regular basis and along with wedding ceremonies being performed. The garden and arboretum is the main attraction of this place with International dendrologists and gardening groups coming worldwide to visit the unusual and vast selection of plants, flowers, trees and shrubbery on offer. The change in season offer a different view of the garden and continually attracts visitors all year round so even if you can’t make it out there during the summer it should without a doubt be put on your ‘to visit’ list.

Standing Stone – Punchestown

Standing at 6 metres high the Punchestown standing stone is the largest of eight megalithic monuments in Kildare. There are no confirmed dates about when this stone dates back to but it is estimated to date back as far as 2450 – 1900 BC. Believed at first to be road markers it is now clear that they are in fact burial chambers for the most important members of an ancient clan. In 1931 the already leaning monument fell over and revealed a Bronze Age cist which contained bones. Made of granite it weighs over 9 tons and there are many stories about why the stones are there. Some believe it was thrown there by legendary Fionn Mac Cumhaill as part of a competition of strength and if that could be in the slightest way true I definitely tip my hat to him! In 1934 the stone was re-erected, placing it back into its stone lined socket now standing vertically.

Kilteel Castle – Kilteel

At the foot of the Wicklow Mountains the designated National Monument of Kilteel Castle can be found. Dated to the 15th Century it consists of a tower house, a projecting tower house with spiral stairs and two further rooms at the gateway. The castle has five storeys and it is still possible to climb to its tower. In the mid 1600’s the castle began its descent into ruin after being laid siege by the Cromwellian forces. There is a large archway into the castle, ancient cottages beyond the tower and a walled graveyard with church ruins and a number of interesting stone carvings on display. Worth a trip to anyone interested in our past as a country and to see the structure of such a long standing building.

Ballitore Library and Quaker Museum – Ballitore

Housed in the restored Meeting House of the Society of Friends is the Ballitore Library and Museum, currently the only dedicated museum to the Quaker heritage in Ireland. Ballitore is a quant village founded by the Quakers in the 1700’s and is the only planned and permanent Quaker settlement in Ireland. Quakers from Yorkshire transformed the valley of Ballitore into rich and fertile farmlands and to this day it still remains simplistic and consistent with Quaker values. The Museum is incorporated into the Library and holds a selection of memorabilia and artefacts of a local nature which is on display for the public. There is also a display inside showing items dating back as far as 1660 such as the original door and lintel stone form the Shackleton House, ledgers, clothing, letters and notebooks among others. This is a beautiful little spot that should be seen. It is free of charge and opened from 2-6pm Tues – Sat.

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