near Athlone, County Westmeath, Ireland
Athlone Castle is a military fortress overlooking the River Shannon, and occupies a strategic gateway between east and west Ireland. The castle has an imposing position in the town centre.
Athlone Castle is an imposing defensive castle in Athlone town with views over the River Shannon and the town of Athlone. The castle was extensively fortified during the Napoleonic years with strong towers and keep. There is a visitor centre in the guardhouse, which provides tourist information and souvenir shop. Parts of the walls that remain from the original medieval castle are enclosed behind glass to preserve them. Athlone Castle is a national monument.
The museum inside the castle features audio visual presentations and waxwork exhibits of local and historical interest. Displays include the Siege of Athlone in 1690-1691 by Williamite troops, the Military History of Athlone which displays various soldier uniforms, John McCormack the famous tenor from Athlone. The local history section is housed in the polygonal shaped keep, with exhibits of plant and animal life of the River Shannon. Athlone Castle museum and visitor centre is closed for major renovation in 2010 and is scheduled to re-open in 2011.
The first Norman castle on the site was built around 1210. Most of the original medieval castle has disappeared, and most of the buildings on the site today was built in Napoleonic times. Athlone Castle has been a military base for over 300 years, and was still used by the Irish army until 1970. The barracks dating back to 1697 is the oldest functioning barracks in Europe. The Old Athlone Society opened the museum in the castle in 1967.
Other Castles in the Area
Ballycowan Castle, County Offaly
Clonony Castle, County Offaly
Rathcline Castle, County Longford
Rindown Castle, County Roscommon
Roscommon Castle, County Roscommon