Killashee House

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I’m back in Ireland at the moment. My fifth visit this year, with another three trips provisionally booked before the end of the year it’s become my second home! Sunday was a fine day and with a calm sea it was an uneventful journey on the ferry. This time I’m not staying in my usual hotel, the Osprey in Naas, as it (along with most of the other hotels in the area) are fully booked due to the Irish National Ploughing Association championships which is taking place a few miles away. So I’m staying at the Killashee House hotel, a few miles east of Naas.

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The hotel has an interesting history. The original building is an old manor house, built in the 1860’s The Moore family, descendants of the earls of Drogheda, who commissioned the architect Thomas Turner to design a country house for them in 1861. It’s an interesting, if not particularly attractive, building, best described as neo-Jacobean, although, to me, it has a number of Gothic features such as the ogee arches above the upper floor windows and main door. With it’s solid granite construction I also thought that there were some similarities with the “Scottish Baronial” style. There’s a large extension, probably early 20th Century, to the east of the old house, which today houses the reception and restaurants. Guest accommodation is in two large wings built relatively recently.

In 1927 the house and land to the La Sainte Union Nuns, a French order, but who had a number of convents in England and one in Athlone, Ireland. So it became a convent. The Nuns started a preparatory school for boys which was opened to day pupils and boarders, both boys and girls. The school was still open in the 1980’s and one of the staff at the company where I’m working used to be a pupil there. However, the school eventually closed and the nuns moved out, the building being sold in 1998 and converted into a hotel.

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My room

It’s quite plush. There are a lot of rooms. It’s main business seems to be corporate events, although there are other people staying here – like me – who are on business and there seems to be quite a few tourists too. I don’t have one of the “Superior” rooms, but it’s still very large (with two double beds – even though I’m on my own) and nicely decorated and fitted out. I’m lucky in having one of the rooms overlooking the very pleasant formal garden at the back of the house.

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View from my bedroom window

Although the Moores’ estate has been broken up, the hotel still has substantial grounds. There’s a pleasant “Butterfly Garden” tot he side of the house

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There’s a wooded area at the bottom of the garden which I explored at the beginning of the week when the weather was very pleasant, while I got a bit of fresh air and stretched my legs after I’d got back from work and before I went to eat. Wandering through the woods I came across a small cemetery where nuns who had lived in the convent were buried.

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A “Watery Walk” in Naas

I’ve been staying in Naas this week running a course on the assessment and control of noise. Thursday was the final teaching day with the exam on Friday. At 5 o’clock, after I’d packed up it was still light and fine outside so I decided to go for a walk. It was cold, but I wrapped up well and set out from my hotel.

I headed to the south of the town centre around where there are some small artificial lakes created to minimise flooding in the town centre.

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After circumnavigating the lakes, I doubled back through the town centre, turning down Moat street and walking past the North Moat earthwork

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and the old cemetery

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down to the canal.

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I walked up the road running along the east bank as far as the bridge at Mill Lane.

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Crossing over to the other side I walked back down to the bridge at Abbey road crossing back over and following the path down to the “harbour”.2013-02-18 17.46.35

It was quite a pleasant walk, 3 or 4 miles in total, but relatively flat and I felt it had done me some good, clearing out the cobwebs, by the time I got back to my hotel.


This week I’ve been working over in Naas, County Kildare in Ireland.

The Irish language name for Naas, Nás na Ríogh means "The meeting place of Kings", as in the distant past the pre-Norman Irish kings from the Kingdom of Leinster used to meet here. After the Norman invasion of Ireland in the 12th Century some meetings of the Irish parliament were held here and In the Middle Ages, it became a walled market town. So it’s got a long history. However, there’s very few traces of that in the modern town.

Today, being only 20 or so miles from Dublin, it’s essentially a dormitory town with a large proportion of it’s residents commuting into the capital. It also has two racecourses; Naas racecourse, which close to the town centre and Punchestown (also the venue for the annual Oxegen music festival) which is only a few miles outside the town.

Despite it’s history there isn’t much in the way of old buildings or monuments. The town has laid out a historic trail which is well signposted which passes all the places of historic interest and some sections, particularly along the canal, make for a pleasant walk through the countryside close to the town centre.

One thing different about the town centre was the relative lack of the usual chain stores that dominate just about every town centre in Britain. There was a small Marks and Spencer food shop and a small Tescos (they get everywhere – and the largest Tesco superstore in Ireland has been built on the edge of the town near the motorway) – but the majority of shops were small independents. There’s also a number of very Irish pubs and bars.

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The oldest building in Naas is St David’s church. This is set back off the main road in the centre of the town in a small courtyard. It’s a Protestant church belonging to the Church of Ireland, originally established by Norman invaders who came over from Wales – hence the dedication to Dewi Sant. It’s built on the site of an earlier Irish Celtic church. The building has been modified and renovated over the years.

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Nearby is the neo-gothic Presbyterian chapel, build in the 19th century

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The is the town hall, which stands in the middle of the town centre just across from St David’s. Originally built as a Jail in 1796, it was renovated and the facade remodelled in 1904 when it was converted for its current use.

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This neo-classical building, just down the high street from the town hall,  is the Naas courthouse. Built in 1807, the four columned portico was added in 1860.

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The North Moat, located a short distance behind the town hall is a defensive earthwork which together with the South Moat –  there isn’t much left of that now – were the dominant defensive features of Dún Naas, an ancient fortress pre-dating the Norman invasion. The North Moat earthwork is ten meters high with a diameter of almost a hundred meters at the base.  It’s the oldest structure in the town.

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This is the neo-classical Lantern Building which stands opposite the County Council offices. It’s all that’s left of the old barracks, built in 1813 to house British troops.


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This striking modern building, located opposite my hotel, is the headquarters of Kildare County Council.

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Designed by Heneghan Peng architects, it was built when the Irish tiger economy was booming and there was  a lot of money was spent on prestigious projects. We’re in different times now.

According to the e-architect site

(the) project is formed around the public space of the people, the civic garden. A slowly inclined ground plane gradually ascends from the street creating a civic amphitheatre for Naas. The sloped amphitheatre is an “event surface” expanding the public realm of the town and opening up the entire site to the town.

Kildare County Council Offices

Above image from the Open Buildings website.

The weather wasn’t too bad while I was over in Ireland and one evening I went out for a walk along the Naas branch of the Grand Canal which cuts a green corridor out from the centre of the town.

This is the “harbour”. A grand name for the small quay where the canal boats would have been loaded and unloaded. The old warehouse has been converted into offices

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This little graveyard was by the side of the canal.

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There were lots of small, rough-cut headstones. None of them had any names or information carved on them, which I found quite curious. I couldn’t find out why this was the case. Comments on this to enlighten me would be very welcome.

There isn’t really anything significant in Naas to make it worth “a diversion” as the Michelin guide would put it. But it’s is a pleasant enough town.

Modernist House in Naas, Ireland

A couple of weeks ago I was working in Naas, County Kildare in Ireland. It’s a small town, about 20 miles west of Dublin. One evening when I was walking from my hotel into the town centre I spotted this distinctive Modernist house. It stood out as it was very different to the other more traditional houses from 30s 40s and 50s that were on the road.