August 24, 2005


An excerpt from Slater's Trade Directory from1846 giving a potted history of the town and describing what life was like in the town at that time.

Slater’s Trade Directory 1846


Is a market town, the seat of a diocese, and formerly a parliamentary borough, in the barony of Ophaly, and parish and county of its name, 32 miles S.W. from Dublin, 13 W. from Naas, 7 S.E. from Rathangan, 6 E.N.E. from Monastereven, and 5 W.S.W. from Newbridge; situated on the mail roads between Dublin, Cork and Limerick. The town derives its name from Kill-dara, or Chille-darraigh, the “Church or cell of the Oak,” from the circumstances of the first Christian church, founded here, having its site amongst trees of that kind. The town, which is the property of the Duke of Leinster, enjoys but little trade, yet, from the numerous remains of its ancient religious edifices, it possesses an aspect of importance, and boasts two admirably conducted hotels, for families and commercial gentlemen-they are called the “Rosmore Arms” and the “Leinster Arms,” and are both posting establishments. James II conferred upon the inhabitants a charter of incorporation; the municipal body consisting of a sovereign, two portrieves, and a certain number of burgesses and freemen, assisted by a recorder, with other officers; for many years these officials have, however, ceased to exercise any judicial functions, indeed the corporation may be said to be virtually extinct, and the government of the town is now vested in the magistrates, who sit in petty session every alternate Thursday in the court-house, a plain structure. Quarter sessions are likewise held in April and October, in the same building.

The cathedral of Kildare has long been in a ruinous condition, and although at various times partially repaired, it appears, at the present day, but a mass of ruins. The original structure dates its existence from a very early period; and it was repaired and adorned by Bishop Ralph, of Bristol, who enjoyed the see of Kildare from 1223 to 1232. The south transept is a ruin; the nave, which stands unroofed, displays some arches, and other architectural features, in the pointed style. The choir retains both walls and roof, and is used as the parish church; it contains the sepulchral vault of the Earls of Kildare and Dukes of Leinster. In the church-yard is the lofty pedestal of an ancient stone cross; and about thirty yards west of the cathedral is the interesting “Pillar-Tower of Kildare,” full one hundred and thirty feet high. Its origin is variously ascribed to the Danes, who, it is supposed, erected it as a watch tower; while others contend that this and similar towers, of which there are many in Ireland, are connected with the services of religion. Besides the cathedral, the other places of worship are the Roman Catholic chapel, a fine spacious edifice; the chapel attached to a Carmelite friary, and one belonging to the Presentation Convent. The principal charitable institution is the county infirmary, erected in 1780, munificently presented to the county by the Duke of Leinster. It will accommodate fifty patients, and in connection with it is a dispensary, the whole under the able management of W. P. Geoghegan, M.D. there are schools under the dean and chapter, and also the national board-the instruction of the female pupils of the latter is undertaken by the nuns of the Presentation Convent, who confer a great amount of benefit on the children of the poor, by their laudable exertions in the path of eduation. Near to the town is the celebrated “Curragh of Kildare,” supposed to be one of the finest commons in Europe, and containing, within its limits, three hare parks. Race meetings are held on the Curragh in April, June, September, and October. In September, 1821, his late Majesty, George IV, who visited these races, contributed to the club a whip of 100 guineas value to be run for annually. The market is held on Thursday; and fairs February 12th, April 5th and 26th, May 12th, June 29th, and September 19th. Population of the town, in 1841, 1,629.

(original spelling and grammar are retained - Mario Corrigan)

Posted by mariocorrigan at August 24, 2005 10:28 PM