Leixlip Spa

A lot of you may be wondering why I’ve been picking smaller sites than what is displayed ( or even why this site is in Leixlip). ‘Why not talk about Maynooth Castle or the College or the churches LITTERED around the place?’ Well truth be told, because they are more famous they require more work and research! Whether to tackle them in parts, or not is a question for the future, but while I think about it, you’ll have to make do with sights that are not as well-known, but that are famous nevertheless. I did mention that this blog would include outlying areas around Maynooth. …

Leixlip Spa is about 5 minutes walk from Louisa Bridge train station, near the Royal Canal, found here.

It was discovered accidentally in 1793 when there was excavation work going on, while building the aqueduct for the Canal, and a thermal spring was discovered. The Canal Company diverted some water into the hexagonal stone basin. It helped bring a lot of tourism to Leixlip, literally hundreds of people,  and there were rumours that it had curative properties – not unlike what Holy Wells are known for.

It doesn’t look quite as spectacular as the History books make it out to be these days however.

It rivaled Lucan Spa for a while, and Thomas Conolly had planned to build a hotel and pump-house nearby, but died before anything had begun. The Lucan Spa became more popular however and no doubt the Spa became neglected. It was renovated in 1975.

Go see it for yourself!

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Sources: A History of Leixlip, Co. Kildare by Gerald Nelson

Aspects of Leixlip- Four Historical Essays by Linda Curran, Valerie Twomey, Patricia Donohoe and Suzanne Pegley

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Taghadoe

The site at Taghadoe lies about two and a half miles south of Maynooth . There is a graveyard, a ruined church and a round tower. I was amazed to discover a round tower so well preserved and so close to Maynooth.

There were three early religious houses in the Maynooth area that the town grew up around: Donaghmore (Grangewilliam), Taghadoe and Laraghbryan. I’ll focus on Taghadoe here.

One thought is that Taghadoe (also called Taptoo) is the site of the monastery of Tech-Tua, the house of Tua. The founder is traditionally said to have been St. Tua, also called Ultan Tua or Ultan the silent, who was connected with the 6th Centurty Monastery of Clane. Not much is known about the monastery except that an abbot named Folachtach dies in 765 AD, which as least gives us some timeline.

Another thought is that Tua should really be called Tuathal, a name preserved in the neighbouring townland if Toolestown, and that this site may have connections going back to St. Patrick.

The round tower was built later due to the era that is associated with them (Viking). It is about 65 feet high and the external diameter is larger than usual round towers. It lacks the usual conical roof,  as well as windows at the top,  so perhaps it was never finished.

The ruined church now standing was built in 1831 for the Church of Ireland by aid of a gift of 830 pounds from the late Board of First Fruits. In the Roman Catholic divisions, the parish is part of the Maynooth district.


Notice the octagonal turrets rising from the corners of the church. Pretty great looking. It would be interesting to find out if when the Office of Public Works did restoration work on this.

At the base of the back of the round tower, we find this interesting marking of a cross engraved into one of the blocks of the round tower. Perhaps this on the round tower all the time, though it seems more likely that it is a later addition. Perhaps it’s an old grave slab from the graveyard attached to this site, or else it’s from the church built years ago. Definitely worth looking into for the future.

It’s only a 5 minute drive outside Maynooth, highly recommended for a visit.

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Sources:

A Topographical Dictionary of County Kildare in 1837 compiled and edited by Mario Corrigan, Niamh McCabe and Michael Kavanagh

Guide to National and Historic Monuments of Ireland by Peter Harbison

Maynooth (Ma Nuad) by Mary Cullen

Conolly’s Folly

This is Conolly’s Folly, found here on a map. It’s found on the road to Celbridge, on the right of the aptly named Obelisk Lane.

It’s a unique structure, nothing like its kind is found elsewhere in Ireland. Built between 1739 – 1740, commissioned by Catherine Conolly (Lady Conolly), who lived at the local Castletown House estate.  It was apparently built as a famine relief project due to a severe famine the previous winter. It closes the view at the back of Castletown house. It’s  a stone structure 140 feet in height. It was designed by architect Richard Cassels, who designed Carton House and Leinster House. It cost £400 to build. Workers were paid half a penny a day and local stories say that the stone was transported from a quarry in Leixlip along a human chain all the way to the site! It turns out the land on which it was built was not owned by the Conolly’s, but by the Earl of Kildare, the owners of Carton House! (hence the name ‘Folly’).

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Sources:

A History of Co. Kildare by Padraic O’ Farrell,

Maynooth (Má Nuad) by Mary Cullen, 1979

Exploring Maynooth: Five Self-Guide Historical Walks by Mary Cullen et al.

Location, Location, Location

Maynooth is a town located in North Co. Kildare.

A closer view of Maynooth is found here.

I recently moved here and I found an amazing amount of History and Archaeology around the place that few people really knew about.  There are hundreds of fascinating sites and places of interest in and around Maynooth and I hope to display a few of them for you over the coming months.