Britannia, by William Camden

The County of Kildare.

Small T THE County of Kildare is stretch’d out like a fore-land to the King and Queen’s Counties on the east; and is very rich and fruitful. Giraldus Cambrensis applies those verses of Virgil to the pastures here:

Et quantum longis carpunt armenta diebus,
Exiguâ tantum gelidus ros nocte reponit

What in long days the browzing cattle crop,
In the short nights the fertil dew makes up.

The principal town of this County, is Kildare;Kildare. eminent in the first ages of the Irish Church, for Brigid,S. Brigid. a Virgin much renown’d for her devotion and chastity; not she, who about † † Two, C.three hundred and forty years since instituted the Order of the Nuns of St. Brigid (namely, That in one Monastery both Monks and Nuns should live together in their several apartments, without seeing one another;) but one more ancient, who liv’d about a thousand years ago, and was a disciple of S. Patrick, and very famous in Ireland, Scotland, and England. Her Miracles, and the Fire never going out (being preserved and cherished in the * * Adytis penetralibus.inner Sanctuary, like that of Vesta, by the Nuns,) and still burning without any increase of ashes; are related by Authors at large. This Town has the honour of being a Bishop’s See, who was formerly stil’d in the Pope’s Letters, Darensis. Ware, Ant. p.136. ⌈It is said to have been founded by St. Conleth, with the assistance of St. Bridget; and among the Suffragan Bishops of Ireland, in Councils and elsewhere, as the Bishop of Meath had the first place, so the Bishop of Kildare had the next.⌉ This Town was, first, the habitation of Richard Earl of Pembroke, afterwards of William Marshall Earl of Pembroke his son in-law; by whose fourth daughter Sibill, it came to William Ferrars Earl of Derby, and by a daughter of his (by her likewise) to William Vescy; whose son William Vescy, Chief Justice of Ireland, being out of favour with King Edward the first upon a quarrel between him Archiva Regia. and John the son of Thomas Girald, and having lost his only legitimate son, gave Kildare, and other Lands of his in Ireland, to the King, upon condition that he should infeoff his natural son sirnamed de Kildare, in his other Lands, in England. A little after that, the said John, son of Thomas Girald (whose Ancestors, descended from Girald Windesor, Castellan, of Pembrook, did great service in the conquest of Ireland,)Earls of Kildar.
Ch.9. Edw.2. N.12.
had the castle and town of Kildare, together with the style and title of Earl of Kildare, bestow’d on him by King Edward the second. These Fitz-Giralds, or Geraldins as they now call them, were Men of great note, and particularly eminent for their brave actions, who of themselves (as one says) preserv’d the Sea-coasts of Wales, and conquer’d Ireland. And this family of Kildare flourish’d a long time with their honour and reputation unsully’d; having never had any hand in rebellions, till in Henry the eighth’s time, Thomas Fitz-Girald (son of Girald Fitz-Girald Earl of Kildare and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland,) upon the news that his father (who had been sent for into England, and charg’d with male-administration in Ireland) was executed; was so far transported by the heat of youth with this false rumour, that he unadvisedly took up arms against his King and Country, invited Charles the fifth to take possession of Ireland, wasted the Country with fire and sword, besieg’d ⌈the Castle of⌉ Dublin and put the Archbishop thereof to death. For which outrage, he was soon after hang’d, with five of his Uncles; his Father being dead of grief before. However, this family was restor’d to its ancient grandeur by Queen Mary, who advanc’d Girald, brother of the said Thomas, to the Earldom of Kildare, and the Barony of Offaly; whose two sons, Henry and William, having both succeeded, and dying without issue-male, the title of Earl came to Girald Fitz-Girald their Cousin-german.

The other remarkable Towns in this County, are, Naas, a Market-town ** Vid. infrà.; Athie, situate upon the river Barrow; Mainoth, a Castle of the Earls of Kildare, and a Town, with the priviledge of a Market and a Fair granted by King Edward the first, in favour of Girald Fitz-Moris; ⌈but now the Castle is in rubbish:⌉ Castle-Martin, the chief seat of the family of Fitz-Eustace, descended from the Poers in the County of Waterford; of whom, Rowland Fitz-Eustace,Barons Fitz-Eustace. for his great merit and virtue, was made a Baron of Parliament by Edward the fourth,Pat.2 Ed.4. and had the Manour of Portlester bestow’d upon him, as also the title ofViscounts. Viscount BaltinglasBaltinglas. by Henry the eighth: all which Honours Rowland Fitz-Eustace lost; being banish’d in Queen Elizabeth’s time for his treachery.

⌈The first of the above-mention’d Towns, namely Naas, is the Shire-Town; near which, at Siggingstowne,Siggings­towne. Thomas Earl of Strafford, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, erected a large and magnificent Pile; designing to make it the Seat of his Family. Usser. Prim. p.242. Almost two miles from thence, are two Stones, of a remarkable Bigness, call’d from thence Long-Stones; but when, or for what end, they were plac’d there, Historians give no account.⌉

The more considerable families here, besides the Fitz-Giralds, are all likewise English, the Ougans, De-la-Hides, Ailmers, * * These, extinct, or obscure.Walshes, * Boisels, Whites, * Suttons, &c. ⌈Within this County, the two honourable Families of Loftus and Allen, have their respective Titles of Honour; the first of Viscount Loftus of Ely, and the second of Viscount Allen.⌉

⌈ As for the Gyant’s dance, which Merlin by Art-magick transferr’d (as they say) out of this territory to Salisbury-Plain, as also the bloody battle to be fought hereafter between the English and the Irish at Moleaghmast; I leave them to those credulous heads, that doat upon the fabulous part of Antiquity, and are admirers of old Prophesies. For my own part, I shall not regard such Stories. These are the Midland Counties of Leinster: Now, we proceed to those upon the Sea-coast.

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:52