Athlone Castle

Top choice in Athlone

Inside this low, hulking 13th-century riverside castle, modern displays bring to life the tumultuous history of the town and detail life here through the ages. The highlight is the cacophonous Siege Experience, which takes place in a circular panoramic gallery.

The ancient river ford at Athlone was an important crossroads on the Shannon and the cause of many squabbles over the centuries. By 1210 the Normans had asserted their power and built a castle here.

In 1690 the Jacobite town survived a siege by Protestant forces, but it fell a year later – under a devastating bombardment of 12,000 cannonballs – to William of Orange's troops. The castle was soon remodelled and further major alterations took place over the following centuries. A lightning strike in 1697, however, ignited the castle's magazine, causing 260 barrels of gunpowder to explode, destroying much of the town in the process.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Athlone attractions

1. Luan Gallery

0.02 MILES

On the river opposite the castle, this contemporary art gallery has rotating exhibitions by top Irish artists.

2. Church of St Peter & St Paul

0.02 MILES

Designed by Irish architect Ralph Byrne and completed in 1939, this colossal neoclassical church stands opposite Athlone Castle. Its stained-glass images…

3. Nun's Church

6.69 MILES

Beyond the site's boundary wall, about 500m east through the modern graveyard and on the way to the Mongan Bog, is the secluded Nun's Church with…

4. Oratory


Church services are often held at this open-air area.

5. Temple Finghin & Tower


Temple Finghin and its round tower are on the northern boundary of the Clonmacnoise monastic site, overlooking the River Shannon. The building dates from…

6. Clonmacnoise

6.92 MILES

Gloriously placed overlooking the River Shannon, 7km northeast of Shannonbridge, Clonmacnoise is one of Ireland’s most important ancient monastic cities…

7. Temple Connor

6.92 MILES

Temple Connor originally dates from the 11th century but has many later features, including a quite modern roof; services are still held here. As it has…

8. Temple Ciaran

6.93 MILES

The small churches at Clonmacnoise are called temples, a derivation of the Irish word teampall (church). Tiny Temple Ciaran is reputed to be the burial…