County Kildare: General Area Information
Co. Kildare has an area of 169,426 hectares with a population of 186,335 in 2006. It is one of the most rapidly growing counties in Ireland with a population increase of 38% over the 1996-2006 period compared with an almost 17% (16.9%) increase for the country as a whole.
Famous globally as the Thoroughbred County, Kildare has a multitude of race courses not to mention golf courses, rugby, Gaelic football, tennis, hockey and leisure facilities dotted throughout the county.
Recent patterns of growth within the county are to a large extent influenced by both the location of key items of infrastructure as well as the settlement pattern that has developed over centuries. Three national primary roads, the M4/N4, M7/N7 and M9/N9 extend westwards and southwest from Dublin through the county to Galway and Sligo (M4), to Limerick and Cork (M7/N7) and to Waterford (M9/N9). One national secondary road (N78) extends across the south of the county in a SW-NE direction through Athy. The Dublin-Sligo rail line extends along the north of the county with the Dublin-Cork line transversing the middle of the county and the Dublin-Waterford line extending from the Dublin-Cork line through the south west of the county.
Naas, the county town, is the principal urban centre with more than 20,000 (20,044) inhabitants. Indeed, Newbridge, Celbridge, Leixlip and Maynooth all have populations in excess of 10,000 persons and Kildare town and Athy both have populations in excess of 5,000.
Kildares topography consists of a large fertile plain broken only by a few small hills such as Dunmurry Hill and the Hill of Allen with upland areas mainly on the eastern county boundary. The fertile plain forms part of the central lowlands of Ireland and extends throughout most of the county including the unique landscape of the Curragh. The uplands to the east of the county separate the plains from the Wicklow Mountains and Blessington.
There are seven Special Areas of Conservation within the county as well as 23 Natural Heritage Areas and one nature reserve. The landscape is also home to a wealth of national monuments as well as a number of significant historical sites at Maynooth, Kildare town and Celbridge.