Maynooth University is in the market town of Maynooth, in County Kildare, Ireland. It’s home to 12,500 residents year-round, which swells to a temporary 20,000 during the academic year when students arrive. It’s about 15 miles west of central Dublin, which is easily accessible by train. The town is inviting, peaceful yet bubbling with life, and full of restaurants ranked highly by locals.
Read on to find out about some of our favorite local highlights, restaurants and entertainment, useful amenities, a brief snippet of history, a look at the area’s demographics, and some notes on transport links.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE AREA
On one end of the main road through Maynooth, you’ll find Maynooth Castle, built in the year 1203. You can still visit the ruins that remain. At the other end of the road, you’ll find Carton House, a great Irish house built in the mid-18th century which has since been transformed into a luxury resort hotel, golf course, and spa. Both of these were former seats of the Dukes of Leinster. In more recent years, since the late 1700s, the town has been a center of education and research, and Maynooth University has played a large role in this along with St. Patrick’s College which was once part of the same institution. In an earlier post, we shared more detail about their mutual history and their beginnings as a seminary before they separated into the two educational institutions they are today.
THREE LOCAL HIGHLIGHTS
1. ROYAL CANAL GREENWAY
This is the longest greenway in Ireland, and it runs along the Royal Canal, beginning in Maynooth and winding its way to Meath, Westmeath and Longford. You could walk or cycle for days with 80 miles of pathways. Check out Royal Canal Cycle Tours for guided adventures and bike hire.
2. THE SENSE OF COMMUNITY
One of the things students love most about Maynooth is the friendliness, the ability to meet locals, and the community vibes. It’s Ireland’s only university town and the university itself was voted Ireland’s friendliest. Most students feel very welcome right away and integrate easily into Maynooth life.
3. MAYNOOTH CASTLE
Maynooth has a long and rich history, and there are many significant landmarks on and off campus, like this 13th century ruined castle, that are worth exploring so you can learn more about your short-term home. You can take a 40-minute guided tours or explore on your own.
For a small town, Maynooth packs a punch with its restaurant options. Some local favorites include Avenue (everything from risotto to burgers), Bistro 53 (Mediterranean), Donatello’s (pizza and other Italian), Picaderos (Spanish and Latin American), and Stone Haven (Irish and international).
For cheap eats, try Chill Restaurant (mix of American, Irish, and international) or Romayo’s Diner (chip shop). And for a cheap and healthy meal, head over to Beetroot which sources its ingredients from local suppliers.
If you’re looking for a sweet treat, don’t miss L’Art du Chocolat (a patisserie and chocolate bar).
For students, life in Maynooth does tend to revolve around the university and events that have been organized by the university and student union. You’ll find a packed calendar of activities to join in on.
Beyond campus, you’ll have fun simply walking around the town of Maynooth, along the canal path, past historical sites, and into some of the many independent shops you’ll spot along the way. There’s also the Clonfert Pet Farm which animal lovers enjoy visiting, and, if you’re an art enthusiast, go to see the hidden gallery of paintings and sculptures inside the grand Carton House.
Some favorite hangouts for dancing the night away, live music, and open mic nights are The Roost, Brady’s, McMahon’s, Cathedral, Oak Alley, and Pizza Dog (best jukebox tunes around).
It’s worth branching out to explore some of the other areas of County Kildare. You can take a barge trip in Sallins, get lost in the Kildare Maze in Ballinafagh, go bowling at Base Entertainment Center in Cellbridge, visit the Bog of Allen Nature Center in Lullymore, or spend a few hours at the Liffey Valley Shopping Center in Palmerstown. Donadea Forest is a beautiful place to go hiking, especially in autumn when the leaves begin to turn.
Of course, you also have the entire bustling global city of Dublin just a 30-40 minute train ride away where there is endless entertainment to be found.
USEFUL TO KNOW
When you arrive in Maynooth, you might want to buy a few things for your room or the shared kitchen. You’ll find local independent shops as well as some bigger chain stores which will have everything you need.
The Range is a good place to look for home goods, and you’ll find several options when it comes to grocery shopping. There’s Aldi, Lidl, SuperValu, and a big Dunnes which has food as well as clothing and home goods, as does the huge Tesco Extra in the retail park. There’s also a lovely independent greengrocer called Masterson’s Fruit and Veg.
Keep an eye open for student specials and discounts across town.
- Age. 0-18 = 24%; 19-65 = 73%; over 65 = 3%
- Nationalities. Irish nationals = 83%; Polish= 4.5%, UK nationals = 2%, other = 10.5%
- Religion. Roman Catholic = 77%; other religion = 10%; no religion = 13%
- Depending on the time of year, students can make up almost 50% of the Maynooth population.
Maynooth is well served by both buses and trains to Dublin with stops at each of the four main city center stations and many others in the suburbs. You’ll also find buses and trains that go in every other direction out of Maynooth. Cycling is also a popular way to get around, especially within the town itself.
Maynooth University has put together an amazing student guide with information on all of the transportation links for both buses and trains that go into and out of Maynooth. Be sure to bookmark that link, but know that it’s always worth double checking time tables for any changes or delays before you travel.