Food and drink

As Ireland's only university town, Maynooth has an extensive selection of places to eat, drink and socialise. Restaurants include Italian, Chinese, Thai, and Indian as well as traditional or modern cuisine. Pubs and bars are busy and cater for those wanting a quiet pint or a lively night out. Maynooth has a plethora of places to grab a coffee or a tasty snack and most pubs serve bar food and hot lunches. All restuarants are within 1km of the university campus, and are best accessed on foot.

History of Maynooth

Maynooth has an ancient and distinguished history. Much of its early power and influence stemmed from the Norman Geraldine family, the Fitzgeralds, who were key figures in Irish history for centuries. The establishment of the pontifical university contributed to the influence of Maynooth. Much of this history of Maynooth is still evident today in the architectural examples which survive: the ruined keep of Maynooth Castle*, the Pugin designed*buildings of the college, and the magnificent Georgian mansion, Carton House* amongst many others*.

Founding of the Geraldine dynasty

In 1176 Strongbow granted the manor of Maynooth to Maurice Fitzgerald who built Maynooth Castle*. It became the stronghold of the Norman Fitzgerald family for centuries. By the end of the thirteenth century the Geraldines ruled most of Kildare and in 1316 Edward 11 created John FitzThomas FitzGerald first Earl of Kildare. The ruins of the castle still stand, just outside the gates of the College.

The Great Earl

During the fourteenth century, from their home in Maynooth Castle, the Fitzgeralds consolidated their power and riches and became the ruling family in Ireland. Thomas, the seventh Earl of Kildare, became Lord Deputy of Ireland in 1471. His son Garret Mor the eighth Earl, known as the Great Earl of Kildare, governed Ireland until his death in 1513. The Great Earl was a strong and charismatic ruler with many stories recorded in history about him, particularly in connection to his relationship with Henry VII.

Silken Thomas

Lord Offaly, widely known a Silken Thomas because of his love of fine clothes and the silken banners carried by his standard bearers, was the son of Garret Óg, the ninth Earl of Kildare. His rebellion against the king and the subsequent fall of the Fitzgeralds is detailed in the history of Dublin Castle*. He and his five uncles were executed at Tyburn and his followers in the Castle were put to death, an episode which is known as the Maynooth Pardon.

"The sole survivor, a child half-brother, was spirited abroad into Italy. But his restoration began in 1552 and he was the founder of a line that was content with the new pattern of court nobility. In the mid-eighteen century Carton and Leinster House (now the seat of the Oireachtas) showed off their glory. James the twentieth earl was created Duke of Leinster in 1766. His son William Robert, the second Duke, was the protector of the fledgling ' Catholic College'* in 1795".

The yew tree at the entrance to the South campus, commonly called "Silken Thomas yew tree", has been identified recently as the oldest tree in Ireland, estimated to be 700-800 years old. It got it's name from Silken Thomas who lived in the nearby castle. It was mentioned in John Healy's Centenary History of Maynooth College published in 1895:

The Silken Thomas Yew Tree as depictid the John Healy's Centenary History of Maynooth College, 1895"For it is an old tradition, that Silken Thomas, on the last evening that he ever spent in the castle, when the fortunes of his house were growing dark as the gathering gloom, sat beneath its spreading branches, which had sheltered so many generations of the Geraldines; and there with his heart full of sad forebodings for the future, he played on the harp that he loved, for the last time in the home of his fathers."

Dukes of Leinster

The seat of the Dukes of Leinster was the magnificent Carton House*, remodeled in 1744 by Richard Castles for the Duke of Leinster and his wife Emily Lennox*. For more information on the fascinating Lennox sisters, including Louisa of Castletown House*, you must read Stella Tillyard's book Aristocrats which has much historical information about Maynooth and it's environs in the eighteenth century.

Edward Fitzgerald

The most famous son of the 1st Duke of Leinster and Emily Lennox, Lord Edward Fitzgerald joined the United Irishmen. He was instrumental in the Irish rebellion against the British in 1798 and lost his life in this attempt.

Founding of Maynooth College

The Duke and Duchess of Leinster played an important role in their support of St Patrick's College which was founded in 1795. Initially a pontifical college it combines both secular and ecclesiastical functions now and continues to grow rapidly.

The account of Samuel Lewis in his Topographical Dictionary of Ireland* published in 1837 is a fascinating account of Maynooth at that time. There are detailed descriptions of the College, its architecture and financial dealings, and the students, who were required to "wear gowns and caps both within and without the college".