The Two Mile House Biodiversity and Heritage Trail is a leisurely 10km route which starts in the village of Two Mile House.
Two Mile House, a picturesque townland nestled just two miles away from the bustling town-limits of Naas, derives its name from its unique geographical location. As a testament to its rich history, a mile marker, known as the 18-mile stone from the GPO in Dublin, can still be admired at Mylerstown Cross.
One of the highlights of a visit to Two Mile House is a journey through the wetland of Harristown Common. As visitors wind their way along a looped track, they are treated to stunning views of the pleasant, pastoral countryside and the idyllic rural roads lined with beautiful hedgerows. The journey also offers uplifting vistas of the majestic Wicklow mountains, adding to the allure of the experience.
In addition to its natural beauty, Two Mile House is also home to numerous points of historical interest. Explorers can discover and appreciate the stories and heritage that have shaped this remarkable townland, immersing themselves in its cultural significance.
Two Mile House Village
Situated in the heart of Kildare’s renowned bloodstock belt, Two Mile House holds a significant place in history as it is located on the very first turnpike road established in Ireland. This historic road, which was opened outside of Kilcullen in 1729, played a crucial role in shaping the region’s transportation infrastructure.
However, the turnpike road was not without its challenges. Given that toll payment was predominantly affordable for wealthier individuals, it became a prime target for highwaymen seeking illicit gains. The townland of Two Mile House, in particular, witnessed numerous instances of highway robberies between 1763 and 1847, leaving behind notable accounts of these criminal activities.
The history of Two Mile House is intertwined with the tale of a turnpike road and the daring exploits of these self-proclaimed nationalist highwaymen. Exploring this rich heritage provides a fascinating glimpse into the struggles and conflicts.
In 1791, St. Peters Church was constructed in the village, marking the establishment of the Society of United Irishmen—a political reform organization formed by Presbyterians and Catholics. The generous contributions of Archibald Hamilton Rowan, a prominent member of the Irish Volunteers and a local Protestant landowner, and Mathias White of Mullacash, a Catholic landowner, made the construction of the chapel possible. Rowan donated an acre of land in 1790, while White contributed £200 in the same year. A plaque on the roadside gable of the church commemorates both benefactors.
The magnificent stained-glass window located behind the altar in St. Peters Church is a remarkable piece of art. Created by J. Sillery of Dublin in 1818, it is one of the oldest surviving examples of stained glass in Ireland. The window, designed by renowned artist Harry Clarke, adds to the church’s beauty and historical significance.
Harristown Commons is a remarkable 182-acre wetland of national importance, known for its diverse ecosystems. The area supports rare plants, butterflies, and red-listed bird species. As you explore this historic environment, please stay on the roadway to preserve its unique character. Nearby, Camphill at Dushane offers workshops for young adults with disabilities, promoting organic farming and providing beautiful produce at their entrance gate.
Harristown Castle and Moate Viewpoint
Harristown Castle, a recorded National Monument on the border of The Pale, dates back to the 1470s. It was once the residence of Roland Fitzeustace, Captain of the Guild of St. George. Although demolished in 1884, the castle’s ruins were captured in the last surviving photo before their collapse in 2012 or 2013. The estate likely extended beyond the present boundaries and included the chapel of St. James in Coghlanstown. The moate surrounding the castle, believed to be a folly built in the early 17th century, featured an ornamental canal where the castle’s occupier supposedly played naval games, firing cannons into the surrounding countryside.
Harristown Estate and St Patricks Church, Harristown
St. Patrick’s Church of Ireland, built in 1891 by the La Touche Family of Harristown Estate, incorporates the original 18th Century church tower. Designed by renowned architect James Franklin Fuller, the church showcases impressive Hiberno-Romanesque architecture. Notable stained-glass windows by Harry Clarke and Sir Ninian Comper commemorate the La Touche family. The cemetery boasts gravestones dating back to the early 1700s. Harristown Demesne, part of the 750-acre estate and home to a section of the Liffey River, features a Georgian mansion that was rebuilt after a fire in 1891. A tunnel connecting the stable yard to the basement is an intriguing highlight.
Railway Line and Station House Viewpoint
Harristown Station House was a smaller station on the Great Southern & Western Railway’s branch line from Sallins to Tullow. Although the line had limited usage and was eventually closed in 1947, the stone-built goods shed and station master’s house remain. A notable feature of the line is the impressive five-arched viaduct crossing the River Liffey.
St James’ Chapel & Well
A letter written in 1798 by the parish priest of Ballymore Eustace to the Archbishop of Dublin refers to the church here as a ‘monastry’ and mentions a local tradition that it was “founded by monks from Santiago de Compostela” in Galicia northwest of Spain.” The Camino de Santiago is also known as the Way of St. James. Located in the south wall is the shaft of a memorial cross with the inscription “Eustace Lord Portlester 1462”. Sir Roland FitzEustace was created Baron Portlester in 1462. He founded the close by New Abbey, Kilcullen in 1486 and was buried there in 1496 with a tomb effigy.
Railway Bridge at Coughlanstown
This brick and stone bridge dates from 1883 and was built as part of the Sallins-Tullow GSWR branch line. South of Harristown, the line crosses the Liffey on a spectacular five arched viaduct bridge one of sixteen to cross the Liffey, built of limestone and brick.
Mullacash Medieval Burial Site/Mullacash
In August 1958, burial remains were discovered during fence construction at Mullacash Middle. After examination by the coroner, the bones were reburied based on instructions from the Public Health officer. Local historian Mr T.P. Clarke reported the site to the authorities, leading to an investigation by the National Museum of Ireland. Radiocarbon dating placed the remains from the 5th and 6th centuries.