Athlone has a character and local vibrancy all of its own. Known as a “gateway to the West”, Athlone’s location on the River Shannon makes it a popular stop for pleasure boats and cruises. The town's riverside location (opening onto nearby Lough Ree) is the cornerstone of its attraction, and the source of its natural beauty. Athlone is proud to be the centre of Shannon Cruising and its hire boats are available for day trips and longer tours. Other activities in the area include walking, angling, cycling and golfing. Athlone’s theatre scene is varied: three theatres, the Dean Crowe Theatre & Arts Centre, the Little Theatre, and Passionfruit Theatre all have interesting programmes for all ages. The All-Ireland Drama Festival takes place annually in the town, bringing together amateur drama groups from across Ireland. Street theatre, art exhibitions, workshops, and events for young people are all part of the festival, making it an exciting time to visit Athlone. The Athlone Literary Festival is an annual event which began in 1999, originally as a weekend celebration of the life and works of John Broderick, but which now features a great variety of speakers and debaters. Athlone is a fantastic town in which to plan your holiday in Ireland this year.
Places of Interest
Places of Interest
SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE....
Athlone has something for everyone… from open farms to a wide range of activities to enjoy, excellent shopping facilities, numerous festivals and events throughout the season and various museums and heritage centres to visit…
Athlone grew up at a fording point on the River Shannon. The first recorded bridge was built in 1120 and within a decade King Turlough O’Conor built a wooden castle to protect it. The Anglo-Normans built the first stone castle here in 1210, parts of which are incorporated into the present structure. It was built by Bishop John de Grey of Norwich, for King John of England. From 1569-1672 it was the headquarters of the President of Connacht. The Castle was occupied by Col. Richard Grace, Governor of Athlone during the first Siege of Athlone in 1690 and also played a vital role in the second Siege of 1691. In the Napoleonic era the castle was remodelled for defence and took on much of its present appearance. For almost 300 years it served as an extension of the military barracks. In 1970 it was handed over to the Office of Public Works and declared a national monument. In November 2012 the castle was re-opened following major renovations. A new visitor centre was opened with eight gallery spaces that tell the story of Athlone , its people, and the castle from prehistoric to modern times. Athlone Castle Visitor Centre is a treat for all ages, with dress up areas throughout, courtyard picnic facilities, outdoor chess and picturesque town views. Audio guides are available for visitors in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Chinese.
The initial display tells the story of the early settlement in Athlone. A 3D interactive map details prehistoric life here up to the rise of the early Irish families. The story continues uncovering the early years of the castle, through interactive games and illustrations.
Athlone Castle Café
Light refreshments are available in the castle café in the reception area. There is seating for approx 32 inside and out.
Athlone Castle Courtyard
The castle provides a panoramic view of the town and the Shannon from the castle turrets and upper battlements with information panels that highlight buildings and landmarks that have historical and cultural significance to Athlone and the Shannon. Also situated in the Castle courtyard is a giant outdoor chess set where visitors can test their game strategy and attempt to attack and capture opponent’s pieces ultimately calling check mate on their king. An archaeological pit is available for mini explorers to try their hand at discovering the finds hidden beneath the sand.
Athlone’s contemporary art gallery, is the first purpose-built municipal art gallery located in the midlands of Ireland. The gallery aims to promote a dynamic contemporary visual art programme of both established and emerging artists from Ireland and abroad. The gallery space, designed by Keith Williams Architects has received international accolade for its innovative design. Luan Gallery won ‘The Best Cultural Building in Ireland’ RIAI Award 2013 and the coveted ‘Civic Choice’ Architecture Award 2014. This dedicated art space is located on a spectacular site overlooking the River Shannon adjacent to the town’s historic bridge, the Athlone Castle Visitor Centre and the Catholic Church of St. Peter and St. Paul. Luan Gallery caters primarily for the visual arts, targeting both national and international projects to ensure a varied and engaging arts programme for the people of Athlone. Luan Gallery provides a warm welcome for all visitors and can facilitate tours for groups or individuals at any time.
The Fáilte Ireland Tourist Information Office is situated in the courtyard of Athlone Castle occupying the old guard house. This modern Tourist Office caters for the needs of visitors to Athlone, the Castle and surrounding areas. As well as offering information and a room reservations service, the Tourist Office has a wide range of literature and souvenirs to suit all tastes.
ACTIVITES to Enjoy
Old Rail Trail Greenway from the River Shannon in Athlone to the Royal Canal in Mullingar
The Old Rail Trail is a delightful Greenway that leads visitors through the very heart of Ireland, where you will hear nothing but birdsong and the whirr of the spokes on your bike. An entirely off-road walking and cycling trail it’s very safe for families or anyone looking for a leisurely spin. 42kms in total, it traces the historic Midlands Great Western Railway track, past restored station houses and under pretty stone arched bridges. Linking the mighty River Shannon in Athlone with the Royal Canal in Mullingar, it passes through areas of unique biodiversity and heritage along the way. Dún na Sí Amenity and Heritage Park is a must-see attraction on the trail and great options for rest and refreshments are available in Moate, Castletown and Ballinea en-route. Bike hire and tours are available from friendly providers at Athlone, Moate and Mullingar.
Full brochure guide here: www.westmeathcoco.ie/en/media/Old%20Rail%20Trail%202019.pdf
Garrycastle, Westmeath. T: 353 (0) 44 9332000
Shannon Banks Walk & Nature Trail
This walking trail starts at the rear of Athlone Castle and is approximately 5kms long. It is a looped bi-directional walk which takes you along the banks of the River Shannon and the old Athlone Canal. There are four information boards along the trail detailing flora, fauna, wildlife and fish that are along the walk.
With the sun on your back and water lapping at your side, take a stroll along the Shannon Banks Walk. It begins in the shadow of Athlone Castle and leads you along a nature trail that’s bursting with a diversity of wildlife. Stretching along a 5km loop, you’ll pass lawns, grassy verges and parklands. You’ll walk under Sycamore, Norway Maple, Red Oak and proud Horse Chestnut trees.
From Moorhen to Heron and from Coots to Little Grebs, you’ll hear the birds sign as they glide over the water. It’s just one of several wonderful walks and a great way to see Athlone town. What’s more, it’s best way to set you up for a meal and drinks in the lively pubs afterwards.
Athlone Castle, Westmeath. E: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Planet – Grace Road, Athlone. With so much to do all under one roof, something for all the family. A visit is a must when in Athlone. Tel: 090 6494766 or log onto www.planetathlone.ie
Wildhunter- Stockist of a large range of fishing tackle, Hunting Gear, Airsoft and much much more.We can give you advise on where to go fishing and what gear to use. Bait also in stock, maggots & worms etc. Excellent rod reel deals. Fishing guide service available. We can provide a ghillie, boat and gear for a days fishing on Lough Ree. Call for more details. Unit 7, The Diskin Centre, Golden Island, Athlone, Tel: 090 6470344
Glendeer Open Pet Farm
Glendeer Open Pet Farm – Curryroe, Drum, Athlone. T +353 90 6437147 E. email@example.com www.glendeerpetfarm.ie Glendeer Pet Farm has something for every age, including cuddly, cheeky animals, playgrounds, a fairy trail, a traditional farm cottage, and lots more. 8km west of Athlone in County Westmeath, it’s fun for all the family no matter the weather. Enjoy an indoor or outdoor picnic as you prefer, bring the littles to the play areas, and pet many of the animals under a protective covering. You’re also invited to relax in the coffee shop with fresh coffee, tea, and homemade treats. Disabled access
VIKING TOURS IRELAND – The River Shannon Viking Boat tours are truly a signature experience of the midlands region and a ‘must do’ on your visit to Athlone, in Westmeath. Quay Side, Athlone Castle, Westmeath T: 353 (0)86 2621136 E: firstname.lastname@example.org www.vikingtoursireland.ie
RIVER RUN LEISURE CRUISES – Cruise the River Shannon in the comfort of our luxurious 50 seater passenger vessel. River Run is ideal for day trips, corporate events and social gatherings. T+353 071 96 21777 email@example.com www.theriverrun.ie
LAKESIDE DAY BOAT HIRE – Lower Road, Glasson, Athlone. T +353 87 3505250 E. firstname.lastname@example.org www.lakesidedayhire.ie – Come to Lakeside Day Boat Hire and enjoy a half or full day exploring the natural beauty and wildlife on the mystical River Shannon and Lough Ree.
A full and detailed list of everything mentioned here is available from the local tourist office to help make your visit to Athlone and the surrounding area more memorable, Athlone Tourist Office, Athlone Castle, Castle St, Athlone. Telephone: 090 6494630 E: email@example.com or visit www.visitwestmeath.ie