Medieval Kildare Market Square set for major transformation
  • 20 Jun 2024

Medieval Kildare Market Square set for major transformation

The medieval Market Square in the town of Kildare is set to be transformed after planning permission has been granted for an ambitious public realm scheme, designed by Metropolitan Workshop. The overhaul of the public space will lead to a pedestrianisation of the majority of the square to create a focus for the community.

Born out of the Kildare Town Renewal Plan (also by Metropolitan Workshop), this is flagship project for the County who have ambitions to revitalize many of the County’s town centres. This news follows the recent planning permission for the new county library renovation and extension from the same practice.

A key function of the Market Square is to host the annual festivities on St Brigid’s Day or Imbolc which is celebrated on 1st February and marks the beginning of spring, as the town has a long association with the female Patron Saint of Ireland. This ties into the vision for the Square, which is to create a cohesive pedestrian friendly space that celebrates the wonderful existing heritage within the town. The key focal point of the space is St Brigid’s Cathedral and the Round Tower located to the north-west and the project re-establishes vistas which were previously encumbered by car parking and street furniture.

There is a total of 15 Protected Structures within and around the Square including the ‘The Market House’ that is depicted at the centre of Market Square on Rocque’s 1757 town plan, the current three-bay single storey Market House was constructed in 1817.

The new designs are the product of detailed public engagement with a variety of stakeholders, including elected representatives, local businesses and the general public. This process established a set of key values that underpin the proposed design for the Market Square, including: promoting healthy, happy and safe public realm; incorporating shared surfaces; providing seating infrastructure and making inclusive public realm for all ages; as well as integrating existing features and constraints whilst improving public realm and pedestrian links.

A key objective of the project is to support a wider ambition within the town to encourage a shift away from private cars to walking, cycling and public transport by creating a more attractive and accessible public realm. A number of interventions support this ambition such as the provision of seating, improved waiting area and seating at the bus stop, widening of existing crossing points and addition of new ones and the inclusion of retractable bollards on Bride Street and Market Street East, allowing for the closure of these streets to vehicles on special occasions.

Denise Murray, Metropolitan Workshop Studio Lead Dublin, said: “We’re very proud that the Market Square has achieved planning permission. Once realised the project will provide a place for visitors and the people of Kildare not only to gather and celebrate the key events in the life of a community but also a place to stop and relax. It will be a space that truly showcases the rich heritage of this historic town.”