near Athenry and Kingsland, County Galway, Ireland
The castle is situated in the centre of the town of Athenry, 15 miles east of Galway in the west of Ireland.
Athenry castle consists of a three-storey keep surrounded by a defensive curtain wall with two round towers. The keep was originally two storeys, the Great Hall and the basement. Another floor was added later. There is an area of grass between the keep and the bailey. After being left in ruins for over five centuries restoration on Athenry Castle commenced in 1990.
The castle offers guided tours during the summer but has no facilities for visitors. Opening hours April/May/October, Tuesday to Sunday 10: - 17:00, June to September daily from 10:00 to 18:00.
The castle Keep was built in 1253 by Meiler de Bermingham and after an attack in 1316 the large town wall were added. Not long after the completion of the walls, one of Ireland’s bloodiest battles was fought outside the town between the King of Connaught and the Normans. Until that time the area and castle were of great importance but the story changed after the battle.
Meiler’s son raised the height of the first floor; he also embellished the entrance with a fine arched door at the south east end of the castle which was reached by a wooden staircase. During the reordering the banqueting hall was also enhanced with narrow trefoil headed windows; very rare in Irish castles.
In the 15th century the tower was raised by two floors to include an attic and two gable ends and battlements were added. The basement only previously accessible by a trap door and ladder also benefited from having a new entrance.
In 1596 the castle fell into the hands of the O’Donnell clan and never recovered from the great damage it sustained during the battle for its title and it wasn’t until the late 1980’s that the National Monuments branch of the Office of Public Works in Ireland started work on its restoration.
Other Castles in the Area
Dunguaire Castle, County Galway
Tyrone House, County Galway