County Kildare (Irish: Contae Chill Dara) is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Mid-East Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Kildare. Kildare County Council is the local authority for the county. The population of the county is 210,312 according to the 2011 census.
Kildare was shired in 1297 and assumed its present borders in 1832, following amendments to remove a number of enclaves and exclaves.
The county was the home of the powerful Fitzgerald family. Parts of the county were also part of the Pale area around Dublin.
Local government and politics:
Kildare County Council is the local authority for the county. The Local Electoral Areas of Kildare are Athy (4 Seats), Celbridge (6 Seats), Clane (4 Seats), Kildare (6 Seats) and Naas (5 Seats). The Council has 25 members. The current council was elected in June 2009. The towns of Leixlip, Naas, Newbridge and Athy have separate town councils under the Local Government Act 2001.
For elections to Dáil Éireann, there are two constituencies in the area of the county; Kildare North, which returns four TDs and Kildare South which returns three TDs. In the Irish general election, 2011, Kildare North returned Bernard Durkan (FG), Anthony Lawlor (FG), Catherine Murphy (Ind), and Emmet Stagg (Lab) while with Martin Heydon (FG,) Sean O Fearghail (FF) and Jack Wall (Lab) were returned for Kildare South.
As part of the Mid-East Region, it is within the purview of the Mid-East Regional Authority.
For elections to the European Parliament, it is part of the East constituency which returns three MEPs.
The county's population has nearly doubled to some 186,000 in 1990-2005. The north eastern region of Kildare had the highest average per-capita income in Ireland outside County Dublin in 2003. East Kildare's population has increased rapidly, for example the amount of housing in the Naas suburb of Sallins has increased sixfold since the mid 1990s. As of 2011 the population of the county is 210,312 with 37% (77,832 people) being under the age of 25.
Kildare currently (2010) contains the European base of electronics firms, Intel and Hewlett Packard, two of the largest employers in this sector in the entire island. Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer has its European Manufacturing base in Newbridge, with another plant in nearby Newcastle in County Dublin. Major pizza-making, soft drinks, and frozen food enterprises are located in Naas. Large supermarket distribution centres are located in Naas, Newbridge and Kilcock. The Irish Army's largest military base containing its command headquarters and training centre is located at the Curragh.
Large peat burning power stations operated by the state are located at Allenwood and Timahoe.
Kildare is the centre of the Irish horse industry.
Kildare has more stud farms than any other county in Ireland. Several prominent international breeders have substantial stud farms in Kildare, including many from the Arab world.
The most economically developed part of the county is around the towns of Naas, Maynooth, Celbridge, Leixlip and Kilcock. Agriculture dominates around the towns of Athy, Kildare, Newbridge, Monasterevin and Rathangan.
River Barrow and White's Castle, Athy.
County Kildare houses the hub of Ireland's network of major roads.
The N4(M4) from Dublin to Sligo travels along the north of the county by-passing the towns of Leixlip, Maynooth and Kilcock.
The N7(M7) from Dublin to Limerick runs through the county and by-passes the towns of Naas, Newbridge, Kildare and Monasterevin. This road is colloquially referred to as the "Naas Dual carriageway" because when it was originally up-graded in 1964 the road from Dublin to Naas was a double lane carriageway, one of the first of its kind in Ireland.
The N9(M9) is another National Primary Route that commences at Kilcullen and ends at Waterford. It is motorway standard to Waterford, with a small gap of single lane carriageway between Carlow and Kilkenny (full motorway due for completion September 2010).
The County is also served by the trains connecting the Dublin to Munster, South Leinster, and South Connaught, with daily connections to Cork, Waterford, Limerick, and Galway. The principal Irish Rail intercity train station in the county is Kildare, however, Newbridge, Sallins and Hazelhatch are also served by a Dublin commuter train service called the Arrow.
Kildare is the centre of Ireland's Grand Canal network built in the late 18th century. This connects Kildare with Waterford, Dublin, Limerick and Athlone. The Royal Canal runs west from Dublin and parts of it form the boundary with County Meath.
There are 4,491 Irish speakers in County Kildare; 2,451 attending the seven Gaelscoils (Irish language primary schools) and one Gaelcholáiste (Irish language secondary school).
According to the Irish Census 2006 2,040 people in the county identify themselves as being daily Irish speakers outside the education system.
The nickname for the Kildare GAA team is the Lilywhites, a reference to the all-white jerseys they wear.
In 1928, Kildare became the first team to win the Sam Maguire trophy for the All Ireland football Championship, defeating Cavan 2-6 to 2-5.
County Kildare is also known as the Shortgrass County which is a reference to how short the grass is on the commons of the Curragh.
The Michael Smurfit owned K Club, situated on the River Liffey near Straffan played host to the 2006 Ryder Cup. Other prominent courses are located at Knockanally, Carton Estate, and Clane.
Kildare is famous worldwide for its horse racing.
The Curragh horse-racing course is the home to all five Irish Classic Flat races. Also located in County Kildare are two other courses, Punchestown Racecourse, home of the National Hunt Festival of Ireland, and Naas Racecourse, which runs both National Hunt and Flat meetings and is used by top race horse trainers as a test for horses preparing for the Cheltenham festival.
The county is famous for the quality of horses bred in the many stud farms to which it is home, including the Irish National Stud and many other top studs such as Gilltown, Moyglare and Kildangan Stud, and race horse training establishments, such as the Osborne Stables.
Horses near Pollardstown Fen.
The county has three major rivers running through it: the Barrow, the Liffey and the Boyne. The Grand Canal crosses the county from Lyons on the east to Rathangan and Monasterevin on the west. A southern branch joins the Barrow navigation at Athy. The Royal Canal stretches across the north of the county along the border with Meath. Pollardstown Fen is the largest remaining calcareous fen in Ireland, covering an area of 220 hectares and is recognised as an internationally important fen ecosystem with unique and endangered plant communities, and declared a National Nature Reserve in 1986.
The Bog of Allen is a large bog that extends across 958 km2 and into County Kildare, County Meath, County Offaly, County Laois, and County Westmeath. Kildare has 243 km2 of bog (almost 14% of Kildare's land area) mostly located in the south-west and north-west, a majority of this being Raised Bog. It is habitat to over 185 plant and animal species.
There are 8,472 hectares (20,930 acres) of Forested land in Kildare, accounting for roughly 5% of the county's total land area. 4,056 hectares of this is Coniferous, while there is 2,963 hectares of Broadleaf and the remaining area are Unclassified Species. Coillte and Dúchas currently own 47% of the forestry. Coillte run Donadea Forest Park which is in North-Central Kildare. The forest covers 259 hectares of mixed woodland (60% Broadleaf, 40% Conifer) and is the largest forest park in Kildare.
County Kildare is twinned with the following places:
Towns and villages:
Counties of Ireland
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