Kildare is an inland county bordering Dublin, to the West. Due to the fact that it is situated on the edge of the central plain, it largely benefits from big open grasslands and lush green pastures that can be seen when travelling from Dublin to Galway, Limerick, Cork and Waterford. This has been the perfect environment for a lot of stud farms and training yards, as well as for developing a strong racing culture. The Curragh, a grassy plain in county Kildare that stretches unfenced for over 5000 acres, is home to many such centres, and the visitor has the chance to see some of the world's finest bloodstock here. Its definitely worth it to wake up early just to admire these horses while they are out for their morning gallop. Curragh Racecourse, just outside Kildare town, hosts most of the major races in the country, including the Irish Derby. The National Stud, owned by the government, was established by Colonel William Hill-Walker and it has become a world-known centre for veterinary research, offering expert advice for breeders everywhere.
Not far from it, The Japanese Gardens are worth visiting, being made in the Japanese ornamental tradition and thus very beautiful and authentic. Established by the same man, Colonel William Hill-Walker, and conceived by a family of famous Japanese gardeners, Eida and his wife Minora, they portray the 20 stages of a man's life from birth to death and beyond. "The Island of Joy and Wonder" is said to be particularly beautiful.
Castletown House, one of Ireland's largest private houses, was originally built for William Connoly a Donegal man and speaker for the Irish Parliament, and is famous for the monument standing at the back of the house, known as "Connoly's Folly" a 140-feet tall obelisk surmounting an odd collection of doors and archways.
The largest town in Kildare is Naas; former seat of the Kings of Leinster, which was overrun by the Normans and later torched by Eduard the Bruce in the 14th century. There are two local racecourses in the area, Naas and Punchestown, and the people talk a lot about horses. Naas also offers welcoming restaurants, pubs. and good shops to suit all tastes.
Maynooth is actually a manor town, built around the Castle of the Duke of Offaly (Gerald FitzMaurice, progenitor of the FitzGerald clan), in the 13th century. Maynooth College is here, Ireland's only seminary, and part of The National University of Ireland.
Several towns in Kildare, beside Maynooth, have almost become satellites of Dublin, firstly because they are situated in its proximity and there are plenty of Dublin commuters, and secondly, because the computer industry has expanded in county Kildare.
Apart from racing, enjoyed by all due to its non-elitist image, golf is also practiced on top-quality courses (such as The K Club at Straffan) and, as far as angling and boating are concerned, both local people and visitors to Kildare have The Grand Canal and The River Liffey at their disposal.