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The flatlands of Kildare are rich in more ways than one. The fertile soil produces miles of lush pastures perfect for raising horses, and the population is one of the most affluent in the country, with plenty of cash for buying horses. Driving through the smooth rolling hills, home to sleek thoroughbreds, you might notice a similarity to the green grass of Kentucky—in fact, the county is twinned with Lexington, Kentucky. This is the home of the Curragh, the racetrack where the Irish Derby is held, and of smaller tracks at Naas and Punchestown.

Once the stronghold of the Fitzgerald Clan, Kildare is named after the Irish cill dara, or “Church of the Oak Tree,” a reference to St. Brigid’s monastery, which once sat in the county, surrounded by oak trees. Brigid was a bit ahead of her time as an early exponent for women's equality—she founded her co-ed monastery in the 5th century.

Visitor Information

The Kildare Heritage Centre is in Market Square, Kildare Town (www. www.kildareheritage.com; 045/530672). It’s open Monday to Saturday from 9:30 to 1pm and 2 to 5pm.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.