Athlone Castle, A Place to Visit

Athlone Castle

Athlone Castle, Athlone Town, Co. Westmeath

Athlone Castle stands proudly on the banks of the River Shannon in Athlone Town. If you are looking for a hotel near Athlone Castle then Hodson Bay is the perfect choice. Athlone Castle is a fantastic structure with an even more fantastic history associated with warriors and leaders from various parts of Europe. So, when you are in Athlone for business or leisure, it is worth a visit. Relax and soak in the experience with a lovely coffee. Or take advantage of the gorgeous wooden seating outside perfect for picnics situated in the courtyard. Athlone Castle is a spot to enjoy it all with panoramic views of the River Shannon, the bridge and the town you just won’t get from anywhere else.


A little History

Athlone Castle

Artwork by Victor Ambrus

In 1210 by John de Gray, Bishop of Norwich and Justiciar of Ireland, on the instructions of King John constructed Athlone Castle. The castle is thought to sit upon the remains of an earlier Gaelic fortification established by Turlough O’Connor in 1129.
The construction of Athlone Castle changed the purpose of the town. It became a defensive stronghold on the western edge of the Anglo-Norman colony.


Walk through History

One of the best things about Athlone Castle is the self-discovery tour. You can enjoy as much or as little time taking in the Castle’s story.


Athlone Castle

Síle na Giġ – Rahara County Roscommon

There a rare special treat in the second gallery room on your tour where you can get up close to the controversial sexually explicit medieval stone carving of a Síle na Giġ pronounced Sheela nah Ghee. We know little about these rare artefacts, and only approximately eighty left dotted around Ireland. The Sheela’s are a symbol of fertility. They dated back to the 12th Century and seen above doorways in churches and abbeys.


“He believes the carvings were imported to Ireland by the Normans in the twelfth century and served as warnings against the perils of sexual lust. The Irish may have interpreted them in their own way later, linking them to pre-Christian fertility cults.”

Learn the History of Athlone

Athlone holds a rich history regarding its location and people. It was a walled town; the defensive stronghold on the western edge of the Anglo-Norman colony.

At the castle, you can dress up in clothing from the medieval times at different spots along your tour. Both kids and adults will love the costumes which are great to capture the moments. There are also some impressive life size exhibition mannequins of the key figures from the Siege of Athlone.


In more Modern Times


In the last section of the tour, there is a great room that displays artefacts and information in a very creative and easy to digestible way. There are also interactive touch screens with more in-depth information if you wish to check them out.  You can see the changes in Athlone over time – 800AD to the present day displaying the events that shaped the town of Athlone. Learn about industries such as Athlone Woollen Mills and the international celebrity tenor and Athlone native, John Count McCormack.


The Keep


Athlone castle

The Lower Keep displaying items relating to the various trades and lifestyles prominent in Athlone up to the 20th Century.

The Keep is well worth mentioning. It is a polygonal structure which sits in the courtyard and houses stories old artefacts from ordinary everyday people over different time periods.

“Benefiting from a collection of objects donated by The Old Athlone Society, the Lower Keep houses a rich array of items relating to the various trades and lifestyles that were prominent in Athlone right up to the twentieth century. Athlonians recount in their own words memories and stories of these times.” Athlone Castle Experience



Athlone Castle is well worth a visit. The staff is passionate about history and educating visitors of all ages about Athlone, the Castle, and culture and how life in the Midlands has evolved. So, if you are visiting or even passing through Athlone take the self-discovery tour of the castle, enjoy a coffee in the courtyard, and capture some great photography of the River Shannon and the town. All and all this tour is well worth the time.

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