Built in 1210, Athlone castle is today an audio-visual museum, and one of the most popular attractions in the town that lies in right in the centre of Ireland. Today recognized as a national monument, Athlone Castle served for centuries as a military barracks. The oldest walls of the castle, surviving from medieval times, are enclosed in glass to preserve their integrity.
Today recognized as a national monument, Athlone Castle served for centuries as a military barracks. The oldest walls of the castle, surviving from medieval times, are enclosed in glass to preserve their integrity.
Visitor Centre / Museum
The modern visitor centre is a family friendly tourist attraction, having been fully refurbished in 2012 to make use of the audio visual technology.
Exhibitions include an introduction to Athlone and the Castle itself, as well as a dramatic audiovisual presentation that recounts the story of the Sieges of Athlone, 1690-91, during which the castle walls came under heavy fire.
Visitors can learn about Count McCormack, who lived from 1184 to 1945. He was a famous tenor from Athlone, and his life and performances are presented in short film. Various personal items, including his gramophone, sit on display at the museum.
Military history is explained from the viewpoint of the Irish Army as a peacekeeping force for a period of nearly 300 years. One display includes models of soldiers dressed in authentic uniforms that once walked the streets of Athlone, which was long regarded as a prominent military town.
A local history is also covered, as is animal and plant life along the River Shannon. Other exhibits include information about archaeological finds in the Shannon Basin and a short history of transportation and hydroelectric power production along the river.
A tearoom containing an art gallery is a relaxing and aesthetically pleasing place for visitors to relax and take a break from their travels. Views from points all around the castle are noteworthy, as well as guns from the 18th century that still outfit the fortress.
Built by the Bishop of Norwich, John de Gray, Athlone castle was commissioned by King John of England. For a period of time in the 16th century, Athlone Castle accommodated the Presidents of Connaught. The complex was attacked and severely damaged during the first Siege of Athlone (1690) and also the second siege in 1691.
The Castle at Athlone was extensively fortified during the Napoleonic years.
Athlone Castle. Image by Livio Barcella