Kildare Drama Festival



A word from the committee

It has been far too quiet for us here on the Kildare Drama Festival committee and we are eager to get our notepads out and get planning for KDF 2022 🎭We have fingers and toes crossed that we will be welcoming you with an old smile, new production and a warm cuppa in the near future ☕

To keep up to date please check our facebook page

Festival Applications Now Open!

Amateur Drama Council of Ireland

 As we prepare for the next stage in preparations for the 2022 Full-Length Festival Circuit, we remind drama groups that Group Registration is currently open. Go to our website for more information on how to register. https://adci.ie/full-length-circuit/registration/

Registration numbers and official application forms will be issued to groups via email after 6pm this Sunday, November 7th. Festival Contacts have already been emailed to registered drama groups. Groups may begin to apply to festivals on Monday 8th November. *Please note – Groups MUST register with the National Secretary of the ADCI prior to applying to festivals.#amdramireland#amdram

Kildare Town Heritage Centre & St Brigids Flame

Kildare Town Heritage Centre

About the Kildare Town Heritage Centre

Kildare Town Heritage Centre

The exhibition in the Kildare Town Heritage Centre is free of charge.

The Heritage of Kildare Town will take you back to the 5th century when St. Brigid established her Christian Church right through the ages of pillaging Vikings and Norman Rule to chic 21st Century shopping at the Kildare Village outlet.  Today you can learn of the notable times of those 1,700 years in a more manageable timeframe starting with a visit to the Kildare Heritage Centre.

The Heritage Centre is housed in an 18th Century Market House adorned by an unusual facade with high windows designed for overlooking the goings on in the market place; upstairs you will find the comprehensive multi-media exhibition depicting the Story of Kildare as mentioned above.  Cogitosus, a 7th Century Monk will be delighted to lead you through this historic display!  Whilst downstairs, our 21st Century helpful staff will assist you with any tourist information you may require.  You might like to do a self-guided tour of the heritage sites aided by the beautifully illustrated 40 page booklet called the ‘Hundred Acres Heritage Trail’.

Much of the Heritage in the area is dominated by association with St Brigid; the patron saint held second in Ireland’s esteem closely following St Patrick, from whom Brigid drew her inspiration.  Each year St Brigid’s feast day on 1st February starts the Féile Bríde, (Brigid’s Festival) a weeklong celebration of the lifelong Christianity and goodness of this saint.  St Brigid’s Cathedral is built on the original grounds of St Brigid’s wooden church under the shelter of an oak tree; just one of the many religious buildings founded by Brigid.  The story goes that the King of Leinster  agreed to give her a plot of land the size of her cloak on which to start a convent, when Brigid lay down her cloak it practically covered the entire grasslands of the Curragh. In the grounds of the Cathedral is the St Brigid’s fire temple, and a small fire is sometimes lit for ritual on St Brigid’s feast day on 1st February. There is also a Round Tower which is the second highest in Ireland but the highest that can still be climbed, a great spot to watch the horse racing in the Curragh!!    St Brigid’s Well is a site of religious devotion, next to the Black Abbey.  The other two abbeys in the area are The White Abbey and The Grey Abbey; the names indicate the colours of the habits worn by the respective orders residing there.  St Brigid’s perpetual flame is housed in the centre of Market Square, beside the Heritage Centre and still today the Sisters of the Brigidine order continue her good work.

History of the Market House



by Mario Corrigan.

The Kildare Town Heritage Centre is an exciting visitor attraction situated in the picturesque town of Kildare. The centre is an ideal point of departure from which to explore the ancient treasures of the town. It is housed in the restored and refurbished nineteenth century Market House, which is situated in the hub of Kildare town. This unique historic building, with its vista of windows, designed to oversee the market place, has been given a new lease of life and is an impressive addition to the heritage assets of the town.  The Heritage Centre was formally opened on the 17th September 2001 by the then Minister for Finance and T.D. Mr. Charlie McCreevy.

The building has a long and varied history. According to the Statutes of Henry VI (1458) a market had been held in Kildare ‘from time whereof memory runs not,’ and an official weekly market, to be held on Thursdays, was authorised by Henry VIII in the Charter of Kildare of 1515. A survey of the Earl of Kildare’s estate in the town by Emerson in 1674 mentions a town hall but not a Market House. Since the location of the Town Hall cannot be determined we might suggest it was situated here, centrally in what became the Market Square and the focus of activity in the town. Reference to the ‘Market Place’ can be found in the Registry of Deeds Office in 1726 and 1751 and although the recognisable triangular area of the modern ‘Square’ is unnamed in John Rocque’s Map of Kildare of 1757 it was designated the Market Square’ in Thomas Sherrard’s Map of Kildare of 1798 and subsequent maps.

Rocque however does identify ‘The Market House,’ in the centre of what is later known as the Market Square on the site of the modern Heritage Centre. According to Rocque it consisted of three adjoining buildings with a yard in 1757. If we accept Emerson made no mention of a Market House in 1674 because it did not exist, then the Market House was built sometime between 1674 and 1757 (however he may not have mentioned it because it was not part of the Earl of Kildare’s estate, or because the town hall and market place fulfilled the same function at that stage). By 1798 (Sherrard) it had developed into a singular rectangular building on the same site with another section to the Cathedral or western side. This projection had disappeared by 1817 but a small northern (facing Nugent Street/Station Road) projection could be noticed on the 1838 Ordnance Survey Map of the town. Interestingly a well was noted by Rocque in 1757 to the east (Dublin side) of the Market House, a pump in 1817 and a fountain in 1838; presumably referring to the same feature, a water source for the town’s inhabitants. A pump was used on the Market Square until the early 20th century but was eventually removed. In 1973 an ancient well was discovered on the Market Square but filled in for safety reasons. It was re-discovered in 2003 and, now restored, has become a permanent feature on the Market Square.

According to Niall Meagher, former Co. Architect, while it may have incorporated an earlier structure, the present building dates from the nineteenth century. In 1838 the Market House was clearly identified as a public building. Valued at £5 in 1844, it was exempt from rates. Not only was the Market Square a centre of economic activity it provided a space/forum for town gatherings and meetings. This was captured by the ‘Illustrated London News’ on the 8 January 1881 in a drawing of a Land League Meeting, with the Market House in the background, showing leases of the Duke of Leinster being burned on the end of a ‘98 pike. Originally it may have been a single storey building but by the mid-nineteenth century at least it had been re-developed with an upper level. By the mid-1880’s a water tank had been placed in the roof of the Market House as a receptacle for water being pumped from St. John’s Well at Tully.

By the mid-twentieth century the Market House had fallen into disrepair and was bought for £300 by Kildare County Council. It was carefully reconstructed in the early 1970’s and a bus shelter, public toilets and small museum were incorporated into the new building. The cast-iron water gauge dated 1885 was retained on the outside of the building as was a plaque celebrating the completion of the Kildare Waterworks in 1886. It won an An Taisce Award in 1973 because of the improvement it made to the appearance of the town.
A Heritage Project Committee representing the three second-level schools was formed in 1992 to campaign for Heritage Status for the Town of Kildare. The designation of Heritage Town provided an impetus for the reinvigoration of the Market House. The European Development Fund provided £230,000 towards the project with additional funding coming from Kildare County Council (£50,000) and local contributions. Once building began the reconstruction and refurbishment took a little less than 2 years and Kildare Town Heritage Centre was officially unveiled in September 2001.

The Heritage Centre contains a multi-media exhibition centre telling the story of Kildare, past and present, combining attractive fixed panels with a video trail where your host Cogitosus, a 7th century monk will take you on a historic journey from the time when St. Brigid established her church in 480. A.D. This video presentation lasts approximately 12 minutes. The visitor can catch a fascinating glimpse of the past before visiting the many other attractions, which include the Japanese Gardens, the Grand Canal the National Stud and the Curragh racecourse. The Centre is the Regional Tourist Office for local and county-wide tourist information. It also has a vibrant shop where visitors can purchase souvenirs and jewellery.


Irish National Stud & Gardens

Opening Hours
(February - October)

Monday 09.00 – 18.00
Tuesday 09.00 – 18.00
Wednesday 09.00 – 18.00
Thursday 09.00 – 18.00
Friday 09.00 – 18.00
Saturday 09.00 – 18.00
Sunday 09.00 – 18.00
Monday – Sunday until November 1st

(including Bank Holidays)

From November until December

10.00am – 18.00pm

10:00am – 16:00 pm (last admission 15:00pm)

Daily guided tours of the stud commence at 10h30, 12h00, 13h00, 14h00, 15h00 and 16h00, lasting approximately 45 minutes.

To find out more about Irish National Stud, Japanese Gardens & St. Fiachra's Garden, simply visit their website or call, + 353 45 521 617.

The Irish National Stud belongs to the people of Ireland but prides itself on being enjoyed and appreciated by visitors from all parts of the globe.

Nowhere better symbolises all that is great about County Kildare, the beating heart of Ireland's thoroughbred industry, than the stud, a unique attraction of outstanding natural beauty that is home to some of the most magnificent horses and sumptuous gardens to be found anywhere in the world.

The Irish Racehorse Experience takes the visitor on a journey through the rich history and heritage of the Irish thoroughbred sector, from the world’s very first steeplechase in Cork to today’s commercial success story where Ireland and the Irish diaspora continue to lead the world in breeding, training and racing.

Among the most loved of all Ireland's gardens, the Irish National Stud's Japanese Gardens are a veritable feast for the eye and ear with the sight and sound of trickling streams perfectly complementing the greenery and vivid colours that provide a tranquil backdrop to the beautiful Bridge of Life and Tea House.The Japanese Gardens are a place for contemplation, meditation and reflection. Since they were first enjoyed more than 100 years ago, they have never failed to please.

Step into St. Fiachra's Garden and enter another world, one to which you will wish to return again and again. The garden, designed in 1999 by award-winning landscape architect Professor Martin Hallinan and named to commemorate St. Fiachra, the patron saint of gardeners, provides a perfect partner to the Irish National Stud's Japanese Gardens while, at the same time, opening up a wholly different yet equally satisfying experience. This stunning attraction seeks to capture that which inspired those involved in Ireland's monastic movement in the 6th and 7th centuries. It does so principally by paying handsome tribute to the Irish landscape in its rawest state. Rock and water are rulers in a garden rejoicing in the natural beauty of woodland, wetland, waterfalls, lakes and streams.

From horses to horticulture, the Irish National Stud offers you a unique experience that can be enjoyed at your own leisure or as part of a guided tour. Come to the Stud and share with us one of Ireland's true treasures.

Find out more about Irish National Stud & Gardens here


St. Brigid's Sacred Sites & Stories

St Brigid Cover pic

St. Brigid

Mary of the Gael – is the patroness of Ireland. Her feast day St. Brigid's Day,  is on the 1st February (she died around 523 or 524 AD) and is celebrated each year in the town under the auspices of the Brigidine Sisters during the festival called Féile Bride (Festival of St. Brigid).

This festival, which takes place around St. Brigid's Day, 1st February, is a five day event organised by the Brigidine Sisters. It features a pilgrimage to St. Brigid's Well on the eve of the feast day and a peace and justice conference. Local schools are involved in bringing the story of St. Brigid to life through weaving of crosses and dramatisations of her life.


The celebration of the Eucharist and other creative rituals are conducted in the local churches and at St Brigid’s Well. Artists entertain those who come to a feast of poetry, music, song and dance. Locals and visitors together explore places associated with Brigid in Kildare Town and The Curragh.  Féile Bríde attracts participants from many countries.

St. Brigid is forever associated with Kildare Town and The Curragh is known as St. Brigid’s Pastures. According to legend, it was granted to St. Brigid by the King of Leinster in return for reducing the size of his ears. Having agreed to settle for a portion of land that her cloak would cover, Brigid threw down her cloak and it spread until it encompassed the whole Curragh (5,000 acres).

Text taken from "The Hundred Acres, Kildare Town Slí na Sláinte and Heritage Trail” by Mario Corrigan & “Rekindling the Flame” by Rita Minehan (Both available in our gift shop)

St Brigids Cathedral

 St. Brigid's Cathedral & Round Tower

NOTE: St Brigids Cathedral and Round Tower are open May to September

Please Note the Round Tower is not accessible to the public until further notice from May 2023 as it is undergoing restoration works please contact the Cathedral directly for any further questions .


This marks the original site of the Church of St Brigid (Patroness of Ireland) which was established under an oak tree. The original stone Cathedral was built by Ralph De Bristol, Bishop of Kildare in 1223 AD. The modern Cathedral was almost completely rebuilt in the late 19th Century. Within the grounds you have Ireland's Highest accessible Round Tower (12th Century) and the remains of St. Brigid’s Firehouse where her inextinguishable fire was kept by her Sisters until the time of the reformation. In 1993, the sacred flame was symbolically relit in Market Square in Kildare Town by Mary Teresa Cullen, the then leader of the Brigidine Sisters.  Kildare County Council commissioned a sculpture to house the flame in Kildare Town Square in 2005. President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, presided at the lighting of the Perpetual Flame in the Town Square on St. Brigid’s Day 2006. The Sacred flame was lit from the flame tended by the Brigidine Sisters in the new Solas Bhríde Centre on Tully Road in Kildare.


Cathedral & Round Tower Opening Times

Please contact the Cathedral direclty with any queries on kildarecathedral@gmail.com

1st of May until 30th September

Monday-Saturday, 10am - 1pm & 2pm - 5pm

Sundays 2pm to 5pm. Last entrance is 4.45pm daily.


The Three Abbeys of Kildare Town

The Three Abbeys

Kildare Town is home to three Abbeys of great historical importance. The Grey & the White Abbeys were founded by Lord of Kildare & Justiciar of Ireland, William de Vesci in 1254 & 1290 respectively.  The Black Abbey was founded in 1212 in Tully by the Knights Hospitaller.


The White Abbey

Click here for a short audio guide for the White Abbey

Founded in 1290 by William De Vesci Lord of Kildare. It was a Carmelite foundation but became known as the White Abbey because of the colour of the Carmelites habits. It was surrendered to the Crown in 1539 during the Reformation but the Carmelites returned to Kildare around 1710. The Carmelites of the White Abbey celebrated the 700th anniversary of their foundation in 1990.

Find out more about The White Abbey here

The Grey Abbey (2)

The Grey Abbey

Click here for a short audio guide for the Grey Abbey

The abbey lies south of the town and its ruins have recently undergone restoration work to stabilize them. The Grey Abbey was supposedly erected by Lord William De Vesci for the Franciscan Friars around 1254 although it was to thrive under the Fitzgeralds. The name, the Grey Abbey simply refers to the colour of the habit that the monks wore.  At least four Earls of Kildare are buried there.  A Grey Abbey Conservation project has been underway for the past number of years, you can find out more about it on the Grey Abbey Conservation page.

Find out more about The Grey Abbey here

The Black Abbey

The Black Abbey

Click here for a short audio guide of the Black Abbey

The abbey ruins are in the grounds of the Irish National Stud. The Knights Hospitallers or Knights of St. John of Jerusalem founded the Black Abbey sometime before 1212 at Tully. The Abbey thrived under the patronage of the various Lords of Kildare but remained a Hospitaller preceptory until it was surrendered to the Crown during the Reformation. It was known as the Black Abbey because the Hospitallers wore black habits in the preceptory.

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Upcoming Events

  1. Collector Market Fair - Newbridge Town Hall

    July 9 @ 11:00 am - December 17 @ 4:30 pm
  2. Cill Dara Historical Society Monthly Talk

    October 4 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
  3. Cill Dara Historical Society Monthly Talks : The Murder of Joseph Bergin

    November 8 @ 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Upcoming Events

Contact Info

Kildare Town Heritage Centre, Market Square, Kildare Town, Co. Kildare, Ireland.

Tel: +353 45 530 672
Mobile: +353 871900945
Email: info@kildareheritage.com

Opening Hours

(Lunch 01:00-02:00pm Daily)

Monday 09:30am - 05:00pm

Tuesday 09:30am - 05:00pm 

Wednesday 09:30am - 05:00pm

Thursday 09:30am - 05:00pm

Friday 09:30am - 05:00pm 

Saturday 09:30am - 05:00pm

Sunday Closed