Sights in Maynooth
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Near the entrance to St Patrick's College you can see the ruined gatehouse, keep and great hall of this 13th-century castle, home of the Fitzgerald family. The castle was dismantled in Cromwellian times, when the Fitzgeralds moved to Kilkea Castle (now closed). Entry is by a 45-minute guided tour only; there's a small exhibition on the castle's history in the keep.
Turning out Catholic priests since 1795, St Patrick's College & Seminary was founded to ensure that aspiring priests wouldn't skip off to seminary school in France and get infected with strains of republicanism and revolution. It became a Pontifical University in 1898 (granting control of the college's theological courses to the Holy See) but in 1910 it joined the newly established National University of Ireland (NUI), which governed the university's non-theological studies. Nevertheless, the student body remained exclusively clerical until 1966, when lay students were finally admitted. A restructuring of the NUI in 1997 made St Patrick's College independent of the bigger…