Video of Athy, County Kildare, Republic of Ireland
From the first official records in 1813 (population 3,192) until 1891 (population
4,886) and again in 1926-46 and 1951-61 Athy was the largest town in Kildare. In
1837 the population was 4,494.
Arhy or Baile Átha Í is named after a 2nd century chieftain, Ae, who is said to have
been killed on the river crossing, thus giving the town its name "the town of Ae's
The town developed from a 12th century Anglo-Norman settlement to an important stronghold
on the local estates of the FitzGerald earls of Kildare, who built and owned the
town for centuries.
The first town charter dates from the 16th century and the town hall was constructed
in the early 18th century. The completion of the Grand Canal in 1791, linking here
with the River Barrow, and the arrival of the railway in 1846, illustrate the importance
of the town as a commercial centre. From early on in its history Athy was a garrison
town loyal to the Crown. English garrisons stayed in the Military Barracks in Barrack
Lane after the Crimean War and contributed greatly to the town's commerce. Home for
centuries to English soldiers, Athy gave more volunteer soldiers to the Great War
of 1914-18 than any other of similar size town in Ireland.
The town is twinned since 2003 with French town of Grandvilliers (département Oise-Picardy).
The French twinning committee is named "La Balad'Irlandaise" . Towns official visits
are each two years. Colleges are organising once a year students exchanges. Musicians
from Athy often go to Grandvilliers.
Of the many church ruins in Athy, St. Michael's is perhaps the most ancient. It was
built in the 14th century. Some of the vestry and sidewalls have disappeared, but
there is still some of the original church remaining. The dedication to St. Michael
is derived from the St. Michael family who were lords of Athy and it is quite probable
that it was this family who were the founders of the church
White's Castle, a tower house was built in 1417 by the Gerald FitzGerald, 8th Earl
Athy Irish: Baile Átha Í, meaning "town of the ford of Ae") is a market town at
the meeting of the River Barrow and the Grand Canal in County Kildare, Ireland, 72
kilometers southwest of Dublin.
A population of 10,490 (2011 Census preliminary results) makes it the sixth largest
town in Kildare and the 50th largest in the Republic of Ireland, with a growth rate
of 58% since the 2002 census.