Top tips for Kildare’s broke Valentines!

Nothing seems to split the nation more than Valentine’s Day.

Nothing seems to split the nation more than Valentine’s Day.

Now more then ever, people are beginning to realise the ridiculousness of spending E10 on a meaningless card that will inevitability end up in a box or in a long forgotten drawer somewhere.

That’s not to say that I think we should give up on the celebration all together.

We need go no further then the boundaries of county Kildare to find a multitude of romantic activities perfect for even the most cynical of lovers.

Lets face it. Kildare doesn’t have a reputation for being a “must visit” county in our fair isle.

In the most recent publication of the Lonely Planet Travel guide our county appeared to be a hasty afterthought given a few mere pages out of the whole book.

The usual suspects such as the Japanese Garden’s and National Stud all got a nod, but there is much more then this on offer in our county. What can be more romantic then stepping off the beaten track with your significant other to discover the fine attractions in your own back garden?

Think beyond your traditional cinema and fast food date (lets face it you might have to if you live north of Naas!) and get in touch with your more cultured side.

Feeling posh?

If you’re feeling a bit posh, Kildare is steeped in history with numerous stately homes and estates that are open to the public if you fancy a stroll around the manor with your other half.

The most famous of these are Carton House in Maynooth and Castletown House in Celbridge but Ballindoolin House and Gardens in Carbury also deserves a special mention.

The Straffan Butterfly Farm is sure to set your heart aflutter (pun intended).

It won’t be open in time for Valentine’s day (it’s open from June to August) but who says romance should be confined to one day? Make a note and save it for summer.

Turn on the waterworks

For something more active, the canals of Kildare are no longer the reserve of can drinking teenagers. Over 70 miles of canals stretch across the county of Kildare and they provide some lovely walkways with some of the quaintest bridges in the country some of which are over 200 years old.

Nothing says “I love you” like agreeing to accompany your lady friend to the Newbridge Silverware showroom and Style Icons Museum. For free, you can have a look at the dresses worn by silver screen heroines of yesterday such as Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn.

Even better, it’s not too far from Whitewater Shopping Center or the Kildare Village outlet, where you can spend the remainder of the day being dragged around by the missus being asked your opinion on essential items such as candles and photo frames. Who said romance was dead? And after all, window shopping is free...

So there you are, the opportunities are endless. Forget about using the recession or lack of time as an excuse and get celebrating Valentine’s Day!

- Aoife Quinn

CHEAP VALENTINE’S DATES

* Visit the stately grounds and homes of Kildare: Carton House, Maynooth (grounds are free to explore); Castletown House , Celbridge (grounds are free, admission to house €4.50 with discounts for senior citizens,children and students); Ballindoolin House and Gardens , Carberry, €6 in.

* The Straffan Butterfly Farm (Not open in time for Valentine’s Day but deserves a mention nonetheless). Open June to August. Contact them at 01-6271109. Admission €8 with discounts for children, OAPs and students.

* The canal waterways of Kildare - take your pick they all have their own charm!

* Newbridge Silverware and Style Icon Museum. Admission free. Tel: 045 431301

* Window Shopping (or maybe more!). Kildare is undoubtedly one of Ireland’s most stylish counties. Browse the charming boutiques of Naas, bargain hunt at the Kildare Village Outlet Centre or Whitewater Shopping Centre, Newbridge or Manor Mills Maynooth! This option is perfect for all the single girls on Valentines Day who don’t want a man holding them back!