Naas is the county town of County Kildare. It's within 30 min travel of Dublin and has become a commuter suburb for the city. The main reason to visit is for Punchestown Racecourse.
Naas was originally Nás na Ríogh - "meeting place of the kings", meaning the petty kings or landowners, under the High King of Leinster. Along with Dublin it was colonised by the Normans from the 12th century; many of these were Welsh hence the dedication of the medieval church to Saint David. Naas was fortified with town walls when the native Irish counter-attacked; in the 13th / 14th centuries they ousted the Normans from much of the midlands but Naas was part of the "Dublin Pale" which held firm. Nothing remains of these fortifications.
It was sufficiently secure in the early modern period to evolve into the county town, astride the roads to Waterford, Cork and Limerick. Newbridge and Kildare had the military bases and Maynooth became a religious centre but Naas had the county courts and administration. It was also connected by canal then by railway to Dublin and the rest of Ireland. By the 20th century it was part of the Dublin commuter belt, boosted by better trains and the M7. It lost its town council when these were abolished nationwide in 2014 but it remained the seat of Kildare County Council. In 2016 the population of Naas was 21,393.
Commuter trains from Dublin Heuston run hourly to Sallins, taking 30 min with stops at Dublin Park West & Cherry Orchard, Clondalkin, Adamstown and Hazelhatch (for Celbridge). They continue from Sallins to Newbridge, Kildare, Monasterevin, Portarlington and Portlaoise. Inter-city trains don't stop here, change at Kildare for trains towards Cork, Limerick, Galway and Westport. A walk-up single from Dublin was €5 in 2021: see Irish Rail for timetables, fares and online tickets.
1 Sallins station is 3 km north of Naas town centre. On race days a shuttle bus plies to the racetrack.
Dublin Coach 726 / N7, aka "The Green Bus", runs hourly round the clock from Dublin Airport via Red Cow Luas (for Dublin city trams) to Naas, taking an hour. It continues to Newbridge, Kildare, Monasterevin and Portlaoise.
GoAhead Commuter Bus 126 runs every 30 min from Dublin Docklands and Heuston station via Rathcoole and Kill to Naas, taking an hour, and continuing to Newbridge and every hour or two to Kildare.
Kyanitedale Bus 826 runs M-F every hour or two from Monasterevin to Kildare, Newbridge and Naas.
JJ Kavanagh Bus 139 runs every couple of hours M-Sa from Corduff and Blanchardstown at the northwest edge of Dublin to Castaheaney, Leixlip, Maynooth, Clane, Sallins and Naas.
There isn't a bus station. The 2 main bus stop is on Main St by the Post Office.
From Dublin follow N7 to junction 9. This section hasn't been upgraded to motorway but is a fast dual-carriageway, 30 min should do it.
Naas is a small town and most places are within walking distance, including Naas Racecourse though not Punchestown.
There are taxi ranks in Poplar Square and by the town hall on Main St. Operators include N Town +353 45 831 010, Tom Clancy +353 45 879 664, Eights Taxis +353 45 888 888, and MW Taxi +353 87 116 5600.
Enterprise Car & Van Hire have a base south of town centre on Kilcullen Rd R448, tel +353 45 895 756.
Europcar are based west on R445, tel +353 45 257 441.
- 1 Canal Harbour: the Naas Branch is a spur off Grand Canal completed in 1788. It branches off at Soldier's Island near Sallins 3 km north, runs into town ascending 3 locks to the basin, then makes a hairpin turn and heads west towards Corbally. It carried mostly mill goods; its extension into Wicklow never happened. It remains navigable (but check with Waterways Ireland) from Sallins to the basin and 1 km west then is blocked by R445. Beyond for 3 km is in water but derelict, acting as a feeder, then it disappears altogether beneath the motorway.
- 2 St David's Church, North Main St. There was probably a wooden church here from the 6th century, dedicated to St Patrick. The Normans who built a stone church in the 12th century were Welsh and re-dedicated it to their patron saint; it was owned by the Knights Hospitaller of St John. In 1620 it was rebuilt, incorporating much of the Norman church; the baptismal font is believed to be 11th century. The steeple became tottery and had to be removed in 1767, and its replacement somehow never happened. The church became C of I (Anglican) and is still active, with major restoration in the 1990s.
- St David's Castle next to the church was built in the early 13th century. It's a three-storey turret.
- Church of Our Lady and St David is the RC church nearby on Sallins Rd, built from 1827.
- 3 Devoy Barracks was decommissioned in 1998 and became an industrial estate and council buildings, but its fine arch and clocktower survive. In 2021 the land was sold for housing and is fenced off as a construction site.
- 4 Jigginstown Castle is the scrappy ruin of a mansion built in 1630 only to be wrecked in the Confederate / Civil wars of the 1640s. It's on Newbridge Rd west side of town.
- Punchestown Longstone is a standing stone 7 m tall, just off Craddockstown Road at the north edge of the racecourse. It's of local granite and is a burial marker from the Beaker era, say 2000 BC - it toppled over in 1933 to reveal a burial cist, and in 1981 another cist was discovered 700 m east. Craddockstown or Forenaghts Great Stone at the racecourse entrance is 5 m tall and of similar date, as the wristband found in its burial cist was typically Beaker. The Topographia Hibernica of 1188 AD would have you believe that "giants brought it from the furthest parts of Africa into Ireland and set it up, partly by main strength, partly by artificial contrivances, in an extraordinary way . . . ".
- 5 Bodenstown Graveyard, 2 km north of the railway station, has the ruin of a 14th century church, an outpost of Great Connell Priory at Newbridge. It's best known as the burial place of Theobald Wolfe Tone (1763-1798), leader of the United Irishmen, who sought to liberate and reform Ireland along the lines of the republican United States and France. But their rebellion of 1798 was already crushed when Wolfe Tone was captured in a French landing attempt in Donegal: he was sentenced to hang but committed suicide. A remembrance parade is held around his birth date, 20 June.
- 6 Clane is a village 9 km north of Naas. Its ruined abbey was built from 1272 over a monastery of 520 AD - this is now a garden and community centre, which you can stroll around. Its 7th century Saint Ultan was so unspeakably holy, he kept a stone in his mouth throughout Lent, little realising that he was sounding just like an English aristocrat. He can't be buried here as claimed, as he went to East Anglia and established a monastery, which was attacked so he fled to Namur. King Mesgegra's Mound on Moat Commons south end of the village is a bosky knoll, once a palisaded motte. Mesgegra was a mythical king of Leinster beheaded here, whereupon his brain-from-Clane (once slain) embarked on even weirder posthumous adventures than that of Einstein.
- What's on? For local events listen to KFM Radio on 97.6 and 97.3 KM, or read Leinster Leader or Kildare Now.
- Walk: alongside the Naas canal is a busy, narrow road, mostly with no sidewalk, so it's not much fun to stroll or jog. A quieter circular walk in town starts at Fairgreen and follows the park and ponds south, then returns along a former railway track, about 2.5 km.
- Cinema: the Odeon is on Dublin Rd near the N7 junction. Starlite Cinema is a retro drive-in held in summer on Naas Racecourse.
- Moat Theatre is on Abbey Road, box office +353 45 883 030.
- 1 Mondello Park, Carragh W91 T957 (8 km north of Naas on R409), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. This is Ireland's only international motor-racing circuit, a 3.5 km track established in 1968 and awarded international status in 2001. There are car and bike races and rallies, an off-road circuit, track days where you can bring your own car, and real and simulated driving experiences. There's a small motor racing museum, open free whenever the circuit is open. Race days adult €16, child free.
- Golf: several courses are nearby, all parkland in nature:
- - Naas GC is 2 km north of town, follow R407 north to the canal then turn right.
- - Killeen GC is another 2 km northeast on Barberstown Rd.
- - Millicent GC is south side of Clane, with Clane GC north side.
- - The K Club is a championship course further northeast, see Maynooth.
- - Castlewarden GC is ten km northeast off N7 towards Dublin.
- - Craddockstown G C is two km southeast of Naas on R410.
- - Newbridge GC: see Kildare, but it's closer to Naas.
- 2 Naas Racecourse, Tipper Rd W91 ED00, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. This has both National Hunt (jumps and chases) in winter and flat-racing in summer. It's walking distance from town.
- 3 Punchestown Racecourse, Punchestown, Naas W91 VCX4. This is a National Hunt (jumps) track with a two mile right-hand circuit. The main meetings are Oct / Nov, and April / May with the Punchestown Festival. Music concerts are occasionally held here. Note the two tall standing stones near the entrance. In 2008 they tried to hold the World Scout Jamboree here but it cascaded with rain and the event was washed out - welcome to Ireland.
- The Curragh is the other famous nearby track, between Kildare and Newbridge. Meetings are flat-racing April-Oct, including all five Irish classic events.
- Gliding: Dublin Gliding Club fly from Gowran Grange Airfield W91 VN52, on R411 south side of Punchestown Racecourse.
- Tesco in town centre is open M-F 07:00-22:00, Sa 08:00-22:00, Su 09:00-21:00.
- Barker & Jones, 2 Poplar Square W91 A7KP, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Sa 08:30-17:30, Su 11:30-17:30. Well-stocked chain bookshop with helpful staff. Bigger than it looks, it's on three floors.
- Tuckmill Gallery at 3 Dublin Rd has crafts and giftware. It's open M-Sa 09:30-18:00.
- Newhall Retail Park is 3 km west at the junction of R445 and M7.
- Butt Mullins, Poplar Square (next to Lawlor's Hotel), ☏ . Tu-Sa 17:00-22:00, Su 12:30-20:00. Long established restaurant in town centre, trad food, the early bird is really good value.
- Trax Brasserie, Friary Rd, ☏ . This remains closed in 2021.
- Vie de Chateaux, Harbour View W91 X021, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. W-F 12:00-14:00, 18:00-21:00, Sa 18:00-21:00, Su 13:00-17:30. This elegant French restaurant gets great reviews; mid-range prices.
- VDC@home, Castle Buildings, Friary Rd, ☏ . Tu-Sa 10:00-17:00. Owned by Vie de Chateaux, this is a bright little cafe. Great for fresh sandwiches, ice-cream and coffee, and takeaway meals.
- Yum Yums House of Coffee, 9 Friary Rd W91 NWY9 (By Lawlor's and VDC@home), ☏ . M-Sa 08:30-16:30. Good breakfasts and sandwiches. Try the chocolate fudge cake.
- Tani Japanese Restaurant, 3 New Row W91 XN4V (at town crossroads), ☏ . Tu-Su 16:00-21:00. Now here's a thing you seldom find outside Dublin. Good Japanese cuisine with fresh ingredients, none of your standard thawed-out sushi. Oishi, so des!
- Others along Naas Main St are Aprile / Regatto's, Rustic, Lemongrass, Amaya Fusion and Swapna.
- Grace's, 1 North Main St, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. W-Su 12:00-23:30. Good for TV sports and lunch during the week, live music at weekends.
- Hayden's, 9 Poplar Square, ☏ . M-Th 17:00-23:30, F 15:00-23:30, Sa Su 12:30-23:00. Fine old pub established 1818. Lots of little snugs, good beer and live trad music some nights.
- Kavanagh's, 10 North Main St W91 ANP2, ☏ . Daily 10:00-00:00. Great pub, with an upstairs restaurant serving modern Irish food.
- McCormacks, 37 South Main St W91 R772, ☏ . Daily 11:00-23:30. Lively trad pub for all age groups.
- Main St also has O'Connor's, Tommy Fletcher's, the bar of Court Hotel (see below) and One New Row.
- 1 Naas Court Hotel, South Main St W91 AX20, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Budget place in town centre, mixed reviews but decent value for what you're paying. The main gripes are lack of parking, and the raucous nightclub clientele. B&B double €80.
- 2 Town House Hotel, Limerick Rd, Naas W91 AX20, ☏ . Mid-price place, value for money. B&B double €100.
- 3 Osprey Hotel & Spa, Devoy Quarter, Naas W91 X40K, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Smart central hotel with pool, fitness centre and spa. B&B double €120.
- 4 Maudlin's House Hotel, Dublin Rd, Naas W91 VR4R, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Early 19th century villa, but it's by the industrial estate at the junction of N7, handy for motorists but feels a bit dated.
- 5 Lawlor's, Poplar Square, Naas W91 Y65N, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Good mid-price place, consistently delivers on comfort and service. B&B double €110.
- 6 White Swan, Sherlockstown Rd, Sallins, ☏ . Pleasant B&B near Grand Canal north of town. B&B double €110.
- Westgrove Hotel, Abbeylands, Clane W91 YWE0, ☏ . Good mid-price place in Clane. B&B double €100.
As of July 2021, Naas has 5G with Eir and Three, and 4G from Vodafone.
Naas Public Library may have internet access. It's a block west of town centre on Harbour View.
- Blessington 12 km southeast has grand Russborough House, a Palladian mansion with a big-name art collection.
- Glendalough across the Wicklow mountains from Blessington is a medieval monastic complex in a scenic valley.
- Trains and buses for the west of Ireland come through Naas / Sallins - you may have to change, but you can quickly reach Athlone, Galway, Limerick and Cork.