Berkshire Choral Festival

Ireland’s historic, vibrant university town

June 13-21, 2015

Home to a National University of Ireland campus (where you’ll live and rehearse) and just 35 minutes from Dublin, the village of Maynooth (Maigh Nuad) has a vitality and diversity that belies its small size. It has more than its share of aesthetics as well: a blend of Medieval ruins, 18th-century grandeur, and modernity, all set in the rural beauty of North County Kildare.

Medieval ruins and Georgian luxury

Maynooth’s tree-lined Main Street, with its stone-fronted houses and shops, is indeed the main street. At one end are the impressive ruins of 12th-century Maynooth Castle, just outside the entrance of St. Patrick’s College. The college, Ireland’s historic national seminary and pontifical university, is itself a destination. At the other end of the street is Carton House, a grand Georgian estate. Now a luxury hotel, spa, and golf resort, its scenic grounds make for wonderful walking and sightseeing. It was the setting for two Stanley Kubrick films: Barry Lyndon in 1975 and The Big Red One in 1980.

Another of Maynooth’s distinct features is the Royal Canal, navigable to central Dublin but now used mostly for leisure. A canal walk offers scenery, greenery, wildlife, old bridges, and antique locks.

Explore!

You’ll have afternoons and one full day off midweek to rest your voice and discover the region. Optional tours will be available. Of note:

Golf at Carton House. The in-town resort offers two excellent courses. Home to the national headquarters of the Golfing Union of Ireland, Carton House has been host to the Irish Open several times.

Clonfert Maynooth Equestrian Centre. Flat, fertile North County Kildare is known for its thoroughbreds. The countryside is dotted with paddocks and stud farms. Nearby Clonfert is a premier equestrian center.

The Monastic Way. This historical east-west route runs right through Maynooth. It roughly follows the path of the “Eiscir Riada” (King’s Highway) and features monasteries, castles, churches, gardens, and more.

Concert venue: St. Patrick’s Chapel

The stunning chapel of St. Patrick’s College, distinguished by five apse chapels, was built in French 14th-century Gothic style between 1875 and 1891. Its richly ornamented interior includes many panels of stained glass, a marble mosaic floor, a massive organ, and row upon row of carved oak choir-stalls that in their detail suggest Medieval craftsmanship. It’s a stirring setting for your performance.