What to see around Athlone

Athlone is a very vibrant town with plenty of entertainment, culture, arts and sports venues catering for individuals, families and groups.
We have it covered!


Theatre and Arts: Athlone is home to many arts, theatre events and festivals such as the RTE All Ireland Drama Festival and the Athlone Literary Festival.

Luan Gallery: Athlone’s Luan Gallery opened its doors to the public on 30th November 2012 following its official opening by Mr Jimmy Deenihan, T.D. Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.  Luan Gallery is a purpose built modern facility incorporating the sympathetically restored Fr Mathew Hall.  The new site juxtaposes the late 19 century build with a modern glass section extending over a boardwalk area.

Luan Gallery caters primarily but not exclusively for the visual arts, with an emphasis on meeting local audiences’ needs in terms of art exhibitions and engagement.  It targets both national and international projects ensuring a varied and engaging arts programme is delivered to the people of Athlone.  Luan Gallery aims to champion innovative, challenging and engaging arts practice.  The space is dedicated to progressing, strengthening and inspiring audiences’ engagement, perception and appreciation of traditional and modern approaches to the arts.  The exhibition and education programmes reflect this commitment.  Please direct any queries on Luan Gallery to tel 00 353 (0) 90 6442154, or email gallery@athloneartandheritage.ie

Drama Festival:  Like most countries in Europe after the end of the Second World War, Ireland approached the fifties with a sense of renewed enthusiasm and self-belief. Although emigration was to leave its devastating mark on the landscape during this decade, the country saw the establishment of many festivals which were set up to help promote the fledgling tourist industry as well as to enhance the well-being of local communities. In 1952 Cecil Salkeld, Cultural Director of the National council of An Tostal (a network of local festivals), came to Athlone seeking a venue for a proposed national drama competition. With the help of such local personalities as P J Lenihan, Alfie Faulkner and Brendan O’Brien, a committee was formed and plans to host the event were put in motion. With funding from the Arts Council, the first All-Ireland Drama Festival was held in Athlone in April 1953 at the Sprotex Hall, a facility attached to the Gentex factory, then Athlone’s leading employer. It comprised competition in 3-Act, (Open and Rural) 1-Act, (Open and Rural) and Verse. The festival was officially opened by Dr Hanly, Bishop of Elphin and the adjudicators were Maureen Delaney, Lennox Robinson and Garriel Fallon. In 2004 RTÉ stepped on board with the festival getting major prominence thanks to the facilities provided by the national broadcaster. www.dramafestival.ie


Belvedere House Gardens and Park is a magnificent 160 acre Lakeside estate with fully restored Georgian Villa, Victorian Walled Garden,naturalistic designed 18th century parkland punctuated with Romantic follies including the largest in Ireland the Jealous Wall. After a restoration project carried out by the estate owners, Westmeath County Council in conjunction with Failte Ireland and the Great Gardens of Ireland Restoration Fund , Belvedere in it’s current state opened in the year 2000 to the public. Belvedere House was designed by the famous architect Richard Castles who designed the majority of the Palladian mansions in Ireland. Built for Robert Rochfort later Lord Belvedere in 1740 as a Georgian Villa, somewhere to escape the ordeal of Family life at their nearby main residence Gaulstown House. Belvedere became Robert’s main Irish Residence after a family predicament where Robert’s second wife was accused of an affair with his younger brother Arthur who lived at nearby Belfield House. The wife, Mary Molesworth spent 31 years under House arrest at Gaulstown until the earls death in 1774. This was a major scandal at the time and led to Robert being known as The Wicked Earl for his cruel treatment of his wife and subsequently his brother and his family. Arthur died destitute in a debtors prison and Robert dispossessed  his nine nieces and nephews.  A different but related argument with another brother George led to Robert erecting the Jealous Wall in 1760 to block his view of his brothers much larger house, Rochfort (now Tudenham) house. www.belvedere-house.ie


The Kilbeggan Distillery is the oldest distillery in the world, dating back to 1757 and the home of Kilbeggan Irish whiskey. The Kilbeggan Distillery Experience offers a unique opportunity to see a fully operational traditional Irish pot still whiskey distillery, while enjoying a historical tour of the old distillery which includes the waterwheel and original distilling machinery. The old distillery has been maintained as a museum just as it was during John Locke’s ownership in the 19th century. The current distillery contains the oldest working pot still in the world and has a cooperage on show for all visitors. With guided tours or the opportunity to explore at your own leisure, each tour ends with a complimentary sample of the award winning Kilbeggan Irish whiskey. Open year around and weekends with a whiskey bar, gift shop, free car and coach parking and restaurant. A visit to Kilbeggan Distillery is a unique experience not to be missed! www.kilbeggandistillery.com


Athlone Castle was first built in the 13th century as a timber fort, Athlone Castle evolved into a bold, defensive building.

Its most significant architectural features, such as the keep, have now been harnessed to act as a dramatic backdrop to its diverse and fascinating story.
The eight newly designed exhibition spaces pursue both a chronological and thematic sequence combining hands-on and fun experiences that will appeal to both children and adults. Bold sculptural forms help to convey human figures and historical milestones. 3D maps, audio-visual installations and illustrations by renowned illustrator Victor Ambrus (best known for his work on Channel 4’s Time Team), bring the stories and characters of Athlone to life. www.athloneartandheritage.ie/athlone-castle


Clonmacnoise was founded in 546 by Ciarán, a young man from Rathcroghan, Co. Roscommon. Until the 9th century it had close associations with the kings of Connacht. The strategic location of the monastery helped it become a major centre of religion, learning, craftsmanship, and trade by the 9th century and together with Clonard it was the most famous in Ireland, visited by scholars from all over Europe. From the ninth until the eleventh century it was allied with the kings of Meath. Many of the high kings of Tara and Connacht were buried here. In the modern day, the site stands as a preserved ruin under the management of the Office of Public Works. An interpretive center and facilities for visitors have been built around the site, which is open to the public for a fee. The graveyard surrounding the site continues to be in use and religious services are held regularly on the site in a modern chapel. www.https://blog.preciouslittleone.com/child-friendly-attractions/#clonmacnoise   


Portlick Castle  is a 12th century Dillon Castle located on the shores of Lough Ree with 30 acres of walled gardens, wooded areas and pasture land. The castle and period extensions have all been extensively renovated to a very high standard. The renovated castle and the adjacent lodge offers 13 bedrooms, 11 with en-suite bathrooms and 2 with private bathrooms, furnished in period style and capable of accommodating up to 26 guests. Apart from three function rooms, a dining room and a library, the banqueting hall has a renaissance style fireplace and will provide a truly medieval experience. The castle is set in 30 Acres of woodland and rich green fields lead down to the Lough situated a mere stones throw away. Awaiting you is the freedom to ramble around this idyllic Irish countryside. Local leisure pursuits include fishing, boat trips and horse riding. If this isn’t enough, a few minutes away is Glasson Golf club, which boasts a course, designed by World-renowned golfer, Christy O’Connor JR. www.castlesinireland.com/castle-in-westmeath-portlick-castle-westmeath/


Moydrum Castle  The lands of Moydrum were granted to the Handcock family, originally from Devon, UK, during the Cromwellian plantations of Ireland in the 17th century. From then on the family remained one of the most prominent landowning dynasties and landlords in the area. Moving forward several generations, head of family William Handcock served as a Member of Parliament (MP) in Grattan’s Parliament, representing Athlone until the parliament’s dissolution in 1800 following the Act of Union with the United Kingdom.  Handcock had originally been an opponent of the Act, but was promised a peerage should he vote in favour of it.  He duly succumbed and finally, in 1812, Handcock was created 1st Baron Castlemaine.  The Baron decided to create an appropriate stately home on his lands at Moydrum, and therefore asked architect Richard Morrison to remodel and enlarge an existing house belonging to the family there.  The resulting gothic-revivalist castle was completed in 1814 and was described as a “handsome residence” in Samuel Lewis’ 1837 Topographical Dictionary Of Ireland, “a solid castellated mansion with square turrets at each angle, beautifully situated by a small lake, and surrounded by an extensive and richly wooded demesne”. www.athlone.ie/business-directory/moydrum-castle


St. Peter’s & Paul’s Church Athlone   Often mistaken for a cathedral, the church dominates the skyline of Athlone.  The twin towers of the main facade and the statues above the porticos on all four sides are its main features.  It was designed by Ralph Byrne and completed in 1937.  The black barrel-like objects seen on the surface of the water are part of a 76m wide boom across the Shannon.  It’s main purpose is to prevent boats being swept over the weir whilst at the same time allowing the passage of canoeists. The photo has been taken from the east side of the river.


Derryglad Folk & Heriatge  Museum No trip to the midlands is complete without a visit to the Derryglad Folk & Heriatge  Museum, which is hidden in south Roscommon in a land of lakes and rivers. The collection deals with Farm & Folk life in Ireland from the 18th century to the recent past. The museum is privately owned and run by the Finneran Family and houses a unique 35 year collection of over 6,000 items. These include; horse drawn machinery restored to the original working order, tradesman’s tools and butter making equipment.  The Museum hosts laundry memorabilia, old and rare washing machines, 1930’s old-style thatched bar & grocery, old-style sheep shears, radios, gramophones and a large collection of 78rpm records, shop dockets and bill heads, sports display  McCormacks photography room, dark rooms finishing room D & P line, camera’s enlargers and B & W colour processors  as well as much, much more. www.derrygladfolkmuseum.com/


Glendeer Pet Farm is an award winning 12 acre open farm situated in the heart of Ireland. Glendeer provides a safe and carefree environment for children of any age. The farm itself comprises of 6 acres and an additional 6 acres of a nature walk which was once an old mass path. The farm has over 50 species of animals but new ones are always arriving, such as Rio our yellow and blue Macaw! An 1850′s restored cottage also provides great memories to some and an education to the younger generation. It’s a fantastic day out for families, groups and school tours. Children are provided with a bag of food to feed the goats, sheep, emu, donkeys, cows, llama and lots more animals. No matter what the weather conditions are, there is always something to do as there is a lot of facilities undercover. Visit the indoor farm pets, the indoor suspended play area and the coffee shop which all provide shelter and entertainment. www.glendeerpetfarm.ie/


Sean’s Bar is a pub in Athlone, Ireland. It claims to be the oldest pub in Ireland, dating back to 900, and received a certificate in 2004 from Guinness World Records repeating the claim. Sean’s Bar is located on Main Street, Athlone, on the West Bank of the River Shannon, and was originally known as Luain’s Inn. It is often colloquially referred to simply as Sean’s. During renovations in 1970, the walls of the bar were found to be made of wattle and wicker, dating back to the tenth century. According to Frommer’s travel guide, the bar holds records of every owner since 900 A.D., including when Boy George owned it briefly in 1987.

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