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Aran Inspired

Athy

Athy Heritage Town, in south county Kildare, is situated where the River Barrow meets Dublin’s Grand Canal, about an hour’s drive west of the capital. Traditionally a market town, it is one of Ireland’s most ancient. The name Athy commemorates a 2nd century battle between the Munster chieftan Ae and King Lewy. The local chieftan was killed, and the town was named Ae Ford Town, or Baile Ache Hi in Gaelic, which was later anglicised to Bally Athy, and shortened to Athy. Growing from an Anglo-Norman settlement, the town developed into Growing from an Anglo-Norman settlement, the town developed into important military outpost, marking the border of The Pale, the name given to a Dublin-centred region on the east coast that was ruled by England.

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St. Brigid’s Cathedral

On the grounds of this 12th and 19th century Norman church, it is believed that the Celts worshipped their goddess Brigid. Over the centuries, with the arrival of Christianity, St. Brigid, Viking pillagers and national conflicts, it evolved into the Cathedral honoring the second most popular saint in Ireland, St Brigid. The site has survived as a place of worship, in one form or another, for nearly 1500 years. The Celtic goddess for whom the Christian St. Brigid was named represented art, poetry, the bounty of the earth, and healing.

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Japanese Gardens of Tully and Irish National Stud Farm

 Some of the most famous garden landscapes can be seen here in Tully. Created by the Japanese gardener, Eida, and his son Minoru, for Colonel William Hall-Walker in1906-1910, these Japanese gardens, built upon reclaimed bog lands, are significant not only for their horticultural beauty, but also for their statements about life’s journey – from birth to the beyond. The gardens progress through 20 stages, each one representing a different point in the cycle of human life.

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Castletown House

This massive Palladian mansion is located in the north of County Kildare. At first glance, its windows seem to go on forever. In fact, there are 365 of them, one for each day in the calendar year. The original house block was built in 1722, as designed by Italian architect Alessandro Galilei for then speaker of the Irish parliament, William Conolly. Sir Edward Pearce later contributed the designs for the side pavilions and colonnades. Castletown House is the largest house in the county designed and built in the Palladian style. During the early 1700’s, Andrea Palladio’s distinctive architectural style experienced a revival in England, and Anglo Irish Aristocrats followed suit, building a large number of Palladian manor houses, each one larger and grander than the next.

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St. Patrick’s College

St Patrick’s College shares the campus with the National University of Maynooth, which was created by the Universities Act of 1997. The original St. Patrick’s College was founded in 1795 as a seminary for the training of Roman Catholic priests. The French Revolution had decimated most of the European seminaries, and there was a shortage of educational facilities, especially for priests that were especially needed in Ireland. King George III signed the Irish Parliamentary Bill, basically to prevent the French from encroaching on England via the Irish Catholics. The college site at Maynooth was chosen at the request of the Duke of Leinster in 1795. The foundation was begun in 1798. More than 11,000 priests were ordained here, and have served in locations all around the world.

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Straffan Butterfly Farm

The farm contains exotic species of greenery, blossoms and butterflies and moths. Most interesting is its tropical house, the only one of its kind in Ireland, where butterflies of all sizes, shapes, and colours move about freely, feeding on a variety of plants from tropical climates. Visitors can walk about and become completely absorbed in an authentic tropical atmosphere. The Straffan Butterfly farm opened in 1986, containing a variety of butterfly collections from around the world as well as other exhibits that teach about the life cycle, feeding and migration habits of various species. There is a focus on ways that humans can manipulate the environment to improve the quality of butterfly habitats. Visitors can also come face to face with other tropical species including lizards, snakes, tarantulas and scorpions.

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Castledermot Round Tower, Crosses and Church

The Castledermot monastic settlement was established by St. Dermot and recorded as the target of extensive Viking raids in 841 and 867. The monastic community itself ceased to exist sometime after 1073. At the very edge of Castledermot stand the ruins of a Franciscan Friary estimated to have been founded in 1302 by Thomas, Lord of Ossong. The original building was long and rectangular in shape, with lancet windows and a tower. Additions were made to the building at later points in history.

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Lullymore Heritage and Discovery Park

 From replicas of ancient dwellings to walks through the surrounding boglands, this park is situated on a small island within the Bog of Allen, the country’s largest peatland. The park was officially opened in 1993 by Mary Robinson. It focuses on the history of Ireland and its people, spanning a time period of nearly 9,500 years. Displays and Topical Exhibits include a Neolithic Farmstead, complete with the round dwellings, depicting a settlement from 6,000 years ago, where rudimentary crops were grown and animals such as goats, pigs and cows were raised for meat. Accompanying exhibits from this same period include a Celtic Astrology garden and fairy bower from the Newgrange tomb era, when mystic culture was prominent in the lives of the people.

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