Just six miles north of Naas lies the village of Kilteel. Situated on the foot of the Wicklow mountains is Kilteel Castle. The castle was apparently built on the site of a former monastic settlement in the early 13th century by Maurice Fitzgerald (2nd Baron of Offaly) as a preceptor for the Knights Hospitallers. Records show that the Castle was in need of repair by 1335. Part of the wall of this preceptor still stands today, however it seems that the castle which stands here now is the remains of a 15th century, 5 storey tower house, with a gatehouse and projecting tower with a spiral staircase. The castle which lies on private lands, has been designated a national monument.
There is little mention of the castle in the fifteenth century but in the sixteenth century after the Castle had been suppressed it was granted to Thomas Alen and his wife. In 1669 Col. Richard Talbot, Earl of Tyreconnell became the owner of Kilteel. He then sold the castle to Sir William Fownes of Kilkenny. It remained in his family until 1838 when it was sold to the Kennedys of Johnstown-Kennedy.
Kilteel which is approx 800 feet above sea level is by far the highest village in flatland area of Kildare. From these heights a fantastic view can be had across the plains of Kildare and adjoining counties.
In a field to the rear of the Castle lie the ruins of a much older ancient church with what appears to be a walled graveyard. This monastic settlement is believed to date back to the sixth century. Now to get from the castle to the church ruins you need to cross some very spongy fields, just after the gate I had the misfortune to get not one but both feet firmly stuck almost up to my knees. Now to add to this precarious situation I also had two sheep dogs come bounding across the field. So I managed to free myself by hooking the strap from my camera bag around the nearby gate’s fence post, I even managed to get my shoes out. The final obstacle to get to the church was a semi dried out river bed, which was also swampy in parts, but I was guided across this by my two new canine friends.
Very little remains of this monastic settlement thought it contains what is said to be the only remaining Romanesque chancel arch in Ireland. Some rather intriguing sculptures can be found within these walls. Finally back towards the main road in a nice little fenced of area you can find the remains off a broken stone cross and a baulin stone.
The site itself is on private property, and the sign on the fence clearly states ‘No Trespassing’. However after knocking in the adjacent house and introducing myself to the owner of which also owns the surrounding lands on which the ruins lie. The Lady of the house was only too happy to give me permission to explore the site.