OS Grid: N039415
Athlone Castle Visitors Centre
The castle is, unfortunately, much altered inside and designed as a mutli-media tourist attraction. ONce inside, there is very little to see of the actual castle structure, but there are a number of dioramas, animated scenes, and movies to watch that explain the history of Athlone and the surrounding area -- ending with a very blatant advertisement for tourism in Westmeath. We actually found it a bit offputting, and enjoyed our walk alont the battlements much more than the "presentation".
The presentation details of the seige of Athlone in 1641, where the town and castle were besieged for 22 days against Connacht forces. The English garrison withdrew in 1642, although the castle was once again captured for Crowell in 1650. There is also a charming exhibit of John McCormach, considered the finest lyric tenor recorded. He was born near the town.
The stone walls around the castle were upgraded and added after repairs to the castle in 1251 by King John, with more work documented in 1273-9, during which time the curtain walls and round towers were added. THe original entrance lies on the lower level near the river. The current ramp entrance is entirely modern.
The castle remained in military use intil the 1920s. Across the street from the castle, also along the Shannon River, is the xxx building, a rather strange, double-bell-towered thing. I believe this is St. Peter and Paul's Church, designed by Ralph Byrne in 1937.
lost in ireland 2005 travelogue and photos © rfingerson