The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland - 1868

"COUNTY KILDARE, an inland county in the province of Leinster, Ireland. It lies between 52° 50' and 63° 25' N. lat., and between 6° 27' and 7° 10' W. long. It is 40 miles in length from N. to S., and 27 in breadth from E. to W. Its boundaries are county Meath on the N., counties Dublin and Wicklow on the E., county Carlow on the S., and Queen's County, King's County, and Westmeath on the W. It covers an area of 653 square miles, or 418,436 acres, of which 356,787 are arable lands, 51,854 are not cultivated, 8,288 are in plantation, 1,017 are under water, and 490 are occupied by the sites of towns. The general character of the surface is flat. The principal rising grounds are the Rathcoole hills, which form the western skirts of the Dublin mountains. At the S. end of the Bog of Allen are the Red Hill, Dunmurry Hill, Grange Hill, and the hill of Allen. S. of this point the surface maintains an unbroken level till it reaches the spurs of the Wicklow mountains on the S.E., which divide the southern part of the county into two parts, on the E. declining to the river Liffey, and on the W. to the Barrow. N. of the Dunmurry range a portion of the great Bog of Allen extends over some 36,000 acres.

The Royal canal passes along the N. border of the county, and sometimes enters the county of Meath. The Grand canal crosses the entire county, sending off branches to Naas, Milltown, and Athy, where it joins the Barrow river. This river enters on the W. side of Kildare, and takes a southerly course, passing Monastereven, to the S.W. boundary of the county. The Feagile, Blackwood, Finnery, Griese, and Leer are tributaries to the Barrow. The river Liffey enters Kildare on the eastern border, and first takes a westerly course, and afterwards flows N.N.E. to Leixlip. The Morrel, Rye, and several small rivulets are tributaries to this river within the county. The river Boyne has its source in Kildare, near the western boundary, and passes out into the county of Meath. About 20 square miles of the great granite district of Wicklow and Carlow occupy a portion of the S.E. extremity of this county. A strip of schistose rock, about 5 miles in breadth, stretches along the eastern frontier. The hill of Allen and the Dunmurry hills are chiefly composed of greenstone, porphyry, and crystalline greenstone, containing hornblende and felspar. In the other parts of the county the prevailing rock is mountain limestone, but so much embedded in bog as to be little available for agricultural purposes. There are appearances of copper at Dunmurry Hill. Owing to the vast expanse of bog within the county, the climate is found to be more moist than in any other inland county of Ireland. Dense and humid mists hang over the N.W. district almost without intermission. The system of agriculture is rapidly improving, though in many places it is still very imperfectly carried out. Up to the commencement of the present century the exhausting plan was everywhere adhered to. The principal crops raised are oats, wheat, potatoes, turnips, barley, rye, clover, &c. The soil is a rich stiff loam in the more fertile districts, but bog and rock in others. The fences are chiefly constructed of stone and turf. The farms range in size from 15 to 300 acres. The breeds of cattle and sheep are from introductions of the first class. The whole of the county, excepting a small portion in the N., anciently belonged to the kingdom of Leinster, and was divided into the districts of Imail under the O'Tooles, Hy-Failge under the O'Connors, and Hy-Ceallen under the Mackellys. In 1296 it was constituted a county, and John Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald was created Earl of Kildare in 1316. In 1534, Gerald, the then earl, being summoned to England to answer certain charges, his son stirred up a rebellion, and the lands were forfeited to the crown. The line was restored in a younger brother in 1552. The battle of Kilrush was fought in 1642, when a Roman Catholic army of 16,000 was defeated by the royalists under the Earl of Ormonde. The population of the county in 1851 was 95,724, and in 1861, 90,946. It returns two members to parliament (ten before the Union), and had a constituency in 1859 of 3,143. It is governed by a lieutenant and custos rotulorum, vice-lieutenant, sheriff, and 14 deputies, with about 70 magistrates. It is in the Home circuit, the assizes being held at Naas, and within the south-eastern or Curragh military district. The military stations are at Athy, Naas, Newbridge, and the Curragh encampment. Naas is the chief police station, presiding over 45 others. The greater part of the inhabitants are agriculturists, but some few are occupied in the paper, cotton, and woollen-mills. The corn trade is very extensive, and numerous mills are in full operation. This county is divided into 14 baronies, viz:-Carbury, Clane, Connell, Ikeathy and Oughterany, Kilcullen, Kilkea, Moone, North and South Naas, Narragh, East and West Reban, East and West Offaly, and North and South Salt, which comprise 116 parishes The principal towns are Athy and Naas, where the assizes and sessions are held, Maynooth, Kildare, Kilcock, Monastereven, Timoline, Rathangan, Leixlip, Kilcullen-Bridge, and Newbridge. The principal seats are Carton, of the Duke of Leinster; Moore Abbey, of the Marquis of Drogheda; Bishop's Court, Earl Clonmel; Palmerstown, Earl Mayo; Lyons House, Lord Cloncurry; Bert House, Lord Downes; Rusborough, Earl Milltown; Belan House, Lord Aldborough; Carbery Castle, Viscount Harberton. The objects of interest to the antiquarian are-Kildare cathedral and round tower, Castle-Dermot Abbey, Newbridge Abbey, Naas monasteries; stone crosses at Moone, Castle-Dermot, and Old Kilcullen; the castles of Leixlip, Donadea, Kilkea, Castle-Dermot, Kildare, Rheban, Maynooth, Corrifig, Timolin, Ballyteague, and Woodstock; pillar stones at Harristown, Mullaghmast, Punch's-town, Forenaught, and Kilgowan; pillar towers at Kildare, Castle-Dermot, Old Kilcullen, Oughterard, and Taghadoe; also earthworks, raths, moats, and tumuli, which are numerous in all parts of the county. The principal communications of the county, besides the canals already alluded to, are the Great Southern and Western railway, which crosses it; and the roads from Kildare to Newbridge, Naas, Clane, Celbridge, Leixlip, Maynooth, Ballymore Eustace, and Blessington; from Kildare to Kilrush, Athy, Ballytore, Timolin, Castle-Dermot, and on to Carlow."


[Description(s) from The National Gazetteer of Great Britain and Ireland (1868)]
Transcribed by Colin Hinson ©2018