The town of Athlone is situated on the boundary of Counties Roscommon and Westmeath, along the River Shannon at the southernmost point of Lough Ree.
Proclaimed by the local government as belonging completely to County Westmeath, the town’s Irish name is Baile A’tha Luain, which translates to ‘ford of Luan’. Athlone was historically known as an important river crossing point, in fact, the only feasible ford for miles in either direction.
In the 12th century, a wooden bridge across the Shannon was erected, and Turloch Mor O’Conor constructed a fort to guard the crossing area. Later in the century, after periodic battles at the site, the Anglo Normans erected a fort in the motte-and-bailey style. A stone castle was finally built here in 1210 by John deGray.
Today’s Athlone is a thriving commercial centre, hosting major companies such as Ericcson, and is home to the popular Athlone College of Technology. Leisure activities include visiting the many nearby historical attractions, and participating in river cruises and water sports on Lough Ree.