- The County Tops – Number 2: Cupidstown Hill, County Kildare
- The County Tops – Number 4: Corn Hill, County Longford
- The County Tops – Number 1: Slieve Foye, County Louth
- The County Tops – Number 3: Sawel, Counties Derry and Tyrone
- The County Tops: Number 6: Slieve Gullion, County Armagh
- The County Tops – Number 5: Knockmealdown, County Waterford
- The County Tops: Number 7: Slieve Donard, Mourne Mountains, County Down
I think it’s fair to say that whatever County Kildare might be famous for, it’s certainly not its hills. Take a drive out by the Curragh any morning and you’ll more than likely spy numerous horses out on their gallops and it is for these equine connections that the county is probably best known.
With this in mind, it’s probably understandable that the Kildare Tourism board failed to provide an answer to my email enquiring as to the highest point in the county. I can’t imagine they get many people visiting the county to walk its hills and presumably my enquiry was quickly marked ‘extremely ridiculous’ and despatched into the nearest rubbish bin. After a bit of online research, I eventually found that the place I needed to visit was the unusually named Cupidstown Hill, standing at a lofty 379 metres close to the sleepy village of Kilteel which itself can lay claim to be Kildare’s highest village. The village boasts an early thirteenth century castle built by Maurice Fitzgerald for the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem which today is a designated National Monument.
Kilteel seems to be something of a forgotten village, nestled in the middle of two of the busiest roads in the country, the Naas dual carraigeway to one side and the N81 on the other. Kilteel can be reached from the Naas dual carraigeway by exiting at juntion 7 after which the village is signposted. From Kilteel itself, you can reach Cupidstown Hill by taking the first left after the church (when coming from Dublin direction). Keep left at the y-junction and drive on up the narrow potholed road until you come to a gate on the left hand side which gives way to a track through a wooded area. There is space to park here.
It’s very quickly becomes apparent as to why Cupidstown Hill won’t be appearing on any of the Kildare Tourism Board’s advertising literature. On my visit, the area inside the gate was doing a fine job as passing as a dump, the most noticeable discarded item being a large body-sized bag which I was very relieved to hear jangle when I nervously kicked it. The hill itself is overlooked by the Wicklow and Dublin mountains with a cloud-covered Kippure and Seefingan seemingly sneering down at Kildare’s summit.
So onto the route itself… for starters you can put your map and compass away for this one! Finding the parking spot is by far the trickiest part of this route and after that, it’s just a matter of walking 500 metres or so along the eerie trail before rounding a corner to reach a second gate which leads to the ‘summit’ area. The summit area is predictably disappointing with it’s most noticeable feature being a small communications tower and its associated service building which, in comparison to the large-scale buildings atop places like Kippure, Mount Leinster and Clermont Carn, looked more like the famous caravan off Father Ted.
The one saving grace of the summit was the huge trig pillar on the far side of a bedraggled fence which hinted at wider views prior to the forestry plantation which now blocks off the landscape in two directions. It’s not known if Cupidstown Hill has any links with romance but its neighbouring hill, Cromwellstown Hill, has a name to send a shiver down the spine and suggests a bloody past.
What can I say? Simply not worth visiting unless you are ticking off County Tops. Not helped by the plantation of trees nor the whole-scale dumping of rubbish by the roadside. If nothing else, it’ll provide you with a trivia question for the pub that you can be pretty sure none of your friends can answer. You can also be pretty sure your friends will think you have completely lost your marbles when they discover you’ve gone out of your way to visit Cupidstown Hill. The hill can be combined with a visit to Dublin’s highest point, Kippure, which is only a short drive away. Indeed for those looking to go on a splurge of County Tops, it would be possible to pack Lugnaquilla, the highest point in Wicklow, into a day as well.
County Top Rating: 1.5/10 (1 for the comedic father ted caravan and .5 for the impressive trig pillar)
Height: 379 metres
Mapsheet: You really don’t need one!
Nearest Pub: The Kilteel Inn
This is the second article in the series on Ireland’s County Tops.
Click here to see all articles from the series