What to see in Ireland
Tourist attractions Athlone
In the heart of Ireland, on the banks of the River Shannon, sits the town of Athlone. Sacked by the Vikings and a nest of battles and sieges, kings and legends, its walls hold a fervent history.
It is the second most populous town in the Midlands with a population of 22,000. With a medieval aesthetic and a picturesque and colourful old town, Athlone is adorned with stunning scenery featuring a serene river, lakes, bogs, woods and meadows where sheep graze, offering an endearing sight for the visitor.
If you travel to Ireland and want to take in its essence as it deserves, you must soak up the tranquillity, history, tradition and genuine Irish culture that emanates from many of its towns, and Athlone is undoubtedly one of them.
What to see in Athlone:
Athlone Castle: was built by the Bishop of Norwich for King John in 1210. Originally a polygonal tower was built on a hill surrounded by a wall with drum towers at the corners. The present-day image corresponds to the Napoleonic period, when it was adapted for artillery use. Today it houses a carefully designed interactive exhibition and its visit is essential to understand the 5000 years of the city's history.
Saints Peter and Paul Church: located on the east bank of the Shannon, this neo-baroque church, completed in 1930, is notable for its portico, dome and two Italianate towers. It has some stained glass windows painted by the renowned artist Harry Clarke and inside you can see replicas of Michelangelo's Moses and The Pieta.
Lake Ree: Situated in the centre of the country, this is the largest of the lakes that crosses the River Shannon and separates the counties of Longford and Westmeath in the east from the county of Roscommon in the west. There are a number of islands here, accessible by boat from Athlone. Misty in appearance, it is surrounded by dense and vibrant ancient woodland enlivened by the song of a variety of birds such as the nationally rare Cul Nagore's garden warbler and other migratory waterfowl. Its waters are rich in fish such as eels, trout and pike, making it a popular spot for angling.
Clonmacnoise: Between the River Shannon and the Mongan Marsh lie the ruins of this monastic settlement consisting of a cathedral, 7 churches, several tombs and 3 crosses including the Scripture Cross, with biblical motifs carved into the stone. Although the religious centre was originally founded by Ciarán de Clonmacnoise in the 6th century, it was restored between the 10th and 13th centuries. The stones stand out against the green of the meadows and the blue of the water, creating a beautiful panorama of this place that exudes great mysticism thanks to its spiritual past.
Sean's Bar: Ireland's oldest pub, dating back to the 10th century no less, as evidenced by parts of the walls being built of wattle and daub and coins discovered in its foundations, as well as a detailed record of all the owners since that time. Since 2004 it also holds the title of the oldest in Europe.
Dean Crowe Theatre: Originally built in 1800, the building was a parish church for over 100 years. Today it offers a varied programme of events in theatre, comedy, musicals, music, opera, dance, art exhibitions, children's events and much more.
Galeria Luan: contemporary art lovers can enjoy both national and international visual exhibitions and educational programmes with workshops, lectures and classes in this building, which opened in 2012 and sits on the right bank of the river. It won the coveted Civic Choice award in 2014 and the RIAI award for best cultural building in 2013.
Shannon Banks Nature Trail: this 5km path of wooden boardwalks opens up behind Athlone Castle and along the old canal through the river marshes.
Old Railway Path: Parallel to the track of the former Midlands Great Western Railway, a 42km path has been paved linking Athlone to Mullingar for the enjoyment of individuals and families who wish to walk or cycle along it and take in the beautiful scenery.
Meehambee Dolmen: After more than 5000 years on the site, the dolmen was accidentally discovered by children in 1960. It is believed to be the tomb where a king, chief or important authority of the time was buried.Athlone Town Center and Golden Island: if shopping is your thing, the numerous shops of all kinds in these two iconic malls will keep you entertained.
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