The County Kildare Archaeological Society was founded in 1891, with the purpose of studying and promoting the knowledge of the antiquities and objects of interest in the county and surrounding districts. Membership of the Society currently stands at approximately 350, and is open to all upon payment of an annual subscription. It is comprised of members of the general public who have an interest in this area, professional archaeologists and historians, and copyright and subscribing libraries.
The Society is administered by a President, Vice President, Officers and a Council of twelve members. Council Meetings take place five times per year, and the Annual General Meeting is held each November.
Each year, the Society publishes a programme of events, which typically would include lectures on aspects of County Kildare and guided visits to archaeological sites, houses and other places of significance. The Society participates in National Heritage Week by hosting a special event which is open to all comers. An annual excursion is held each July to sites and buildings of interest in one of Kildare’s neighbouring counties. Members are welcome to introduce guests at meetings of the Society, except on specific occasions which are restricted to members.
A main function of the Society since its foundation has been the publication of a high quality Journal which has appeared regularly, with the exception of the period surrounding the First and Second World Wars. In the early years, Journals were published at a rate of one or two per annum, although due to escalating costs, work involved in production, and to ensure that papers included are only of the highest academic standard, the Society now endeavours to produce one every two years.
The Lord Walter FitzGerald Prize for Research was instituted by the Society in 2001, in memory of a founder member of the Society and one of the principal contributors to the Journal throughout its early decades, Lord Walter FitzGerald (1858 – 1923). The Prize is innovative in that it is designed to encourage original research on any aspect of the archaeology or history of county Kildare or surrounding districts, and its publication.
In January 2011, the Kildare Archaeological Society Grants were introduced for the first time, to further the Society’s quest for archaeological and historical research relating to the county of Kildare. Typical applicants would be either members of the Society in good standing, or students in third level institutions.
The Society takes an active interest in the preservation of the archaeological and historical environment of county Kildare, and several of its members serve on the County Monuments Committee. Its most significant project in recent years has been that of playing a leading role in the restoration and preservation of the monuments at St Brigid’s Cathedral, Kildare.