Ardclough (Ard Cloch, literally the High Stone) is a community in north Kildare located at 53°17′53″N 6°34′07″W, near where the Liffey plain meets two detached western foothills of the Wicklow range, the hills of Lyons (157m) and Oughterard (137m). It is situated on some of the most productive soils in Ireland and has a population of 1,681 spread over three electoral districts.
The soil is principally a rich loam, varying from 10 to 16 inches (410 mm) in depth, and resting on a hard and compact substratum of floetz limestone. The water table is unusually high. The communications arteries of the Grand Canal, main railway line from Dublin to Cork/Limerick/Tralee and the N7 all pass close to the community. The Liffey passes within a radius of one kilometre. The low hills, rich floodplain, rivers, canal and flooded quarries ensure Ardclough is home to a stunning variety of plant and animal life. The area provides a combination of hill, wood and water habitats. More than 35 species of birds have been identified and coarse fishing for pike, perch, roach and rudd is popular along the canal bank.
The name beams “top stone” or “superior stone”, reflective of the high quality limestone that was quarried in the locality until the 1880s. It was first referenced as ‘Aclagh’ in Alexander Taylor’s map of 1783, on the opposite bank of the canal from the site of a masshouse, later the original parish church of Lyons (1810), soon joined by a schoolhouse (1839) and a cluster of three quarries that operated 1804-86. This was the original Ardclough.
The place now referred to Ardclough approximates more closely to the townlands of Tipperstown and Wheatfield, site of a GAA club (1936), community hall (1940, refurbished 1976, reconstructed 2003), primary school (1950), church (1985), two small housing developments (1976 and 1989) and a new 16-classroom primary school (2011).
Ardclough historical distinctions include periods as site of
- a royal seat of the Kings of Leinster (760-1003) at Lyons,
- a monastic site (founded 605, associated with Saints Brigit and Derchairthinn), 10th century round tower and church (1350) at Oughterard, later a powerful Royal manor,
- six medieval churches, five towerhouse/castles and a medieval moated house,
- home in different epochs to the powerful political dynasties of Uí Dúnchada-Uí Dúnlainge/FitzDermot, Tyrrell, Aylmer, Sarsfield, Lawless and Ponsonby,
- hotspot of revolutionary activity in 1641-2, 1798 and 1919-22,
- burial place and reputed birthplace of brewery founder Arthur Guinness (1725–1803),
- birthplace of artists such as writer Emily Lawless (1845–1913) and sculptress Mary Redmond (1863–1930),
- home and burial place of aviation pioneer Tony Ryan (1936–2007), founder of Guinness Peat Aviation and Ryanair.
An 1820s industrial development at Lyons Village beside the 13th lock on the Grand Canal, a focal point of the community until the 1950s, was restored 1999-2007 for use in the hospitality industry.
The community has won sporting acclaim on equine, football and hurling fields.