Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Visit Athlone, Ireland

Smack-dab in the middle of Ireland, Athlone is a vibrant town on the banks of River Shannon. Located about an hour and a half from Dublin and Galway, Athlone is a great location to explore the midlands of Ireland.

Take your pick from a wealth of attractions, historical sites, family and visitor amenities that are located in the town and neighboring areas. There is a unique mix of heritage, culture and an urban buzz just waiting for you to experience. Re-enact the Siege of Athlone at Athlone Castle Visitor Centre, follow the Viking trail to Clonamacnoise on one of our boat-trips or simply stroll along the banks of the River Shannon on a warm summer's day or sip a cocktail on the deck overlooking the Shannon after hitting the shops! There’s a whole new world just waiting to be explored here in Athlone, the heart of the Lakelands Region of Ireland.

Where To Stay
Hodson Bay Hotel, Athlone, Co Westmeath
Hodson Bay Hotel & Spa is an award winning 4 star hotel in Athlone overlooking Lough Ree on the River Shannon.

Villages and Towns
Explore the stunning countryside around Athlone and beyond. Visit neighboring towns and villages each with their own unique appeal.

Glasson Village
Glasson is a picturesque village situated north east of Athlone town in Co. Westmeath. The village is commonly referred to as the ‘Village of the Roses’. It was famous in the 1800s for its rose bloom and the local landlord, Robert Temple is said to have walked the village giving prizes for the best presented houses. Oliver Goldsmith, one of the most important writers of the 18th century was from the area and his works are celebrated at the annual Oliver International Literary Festival. Today Glasson is renowned for its fine restaurants, notably The Glasson Village Restaurant and pubs Grogans and Farrells for their great food and hospitality.

Ballinahown Irish Designer Craft VillageBallinahown is a Tidy Towns award-winning village located on the Offaly and Westmeath border, south east of Athlone. A visit to this picturesque village will take you into the depth's of Irish history and heart of the Irish creative soul, where the old world charm marries the cutting edge modern design to give you a village like no other.

Ballinahown is the perfect place to introduce you to the secret gems of Irish craft and design. Prepare for a visual feast as artists, craftsmen, sculptors and many other creatives exhibit their works in 'core crafted design' and 'Celtic roots studio'. Unwind and relax in the new craft cafe, serving locally baked produce and artisan foods or have a quiet pint of Guinness in the local pub.

Moate, the third largest town in County Westmeath, is situated near Athlone, along the R446 (formerly N6) route between Dublin and Galway. The name An Móta is derived from the term motte-and-bailey, the Normans built an example of this type of fortification and the earthwork is still visible behind the buildings on the main street.  The town later became an important marketplace and Quakers settled in the village and started industries in the area towards the end of the 17th century.

What To Do
Portlick Castle, Glasson, Athlone, Co Westmeath
Portlick Castle is an 12th century Dillon Castle located on the shores of Lough
Ree with 30 acres of walled gardens, wooded areas and pasture land. The castle
and period extensions have all been extensively renovated to a very high standard.

Athlone Castle, Athlone, Co Westmeath
This Norman Castle dating from the 13th century the castle dominates the town and was central to the siege of Athlone in 1961. The castle celebrated its 800th Anniversary in 2010. The facilities are once again being re-developed to bring the standards of interpretation and display in line with the visitor expectations of the twenty-first century.   The Keep of the Castle will be used to tell the dramatic story of the famous Siege of Athlone while the other buildings will house a modern interpretative centre focusing on Athlone, the Castle and the periods both before and after the Siege.  There will also be a new presentation on the life and times of John Count McCormack Athlone’s most famous export.

Moydrum Castle, Athlone, Co Westmeath
The lands of Moydrum were granted to the Handcock family, originally from Devon,
UK, during the Cromwellian plantations of Ireland in the 17th century. From then
on the family remained one of the most prominent landowning dynasties and landlords
in the area.

Fore Abbey, Fore, Co Westmeath
The village of Fore is in a valley between two hills. Here you will see the ancient ruins of a Christian monastery. Fore is “the town of the springs” and was named after St. Fechin’s spring, which is beside the old church. It was St. Fechin who founded the ancient Fore Abbey around 630 A.D. By 665 A.D. (the time of the yellow plague) there were 300 monks living in the community.

Clanmacnoise Monastic Site, Clan Macnoise, Co Offaly
An early Christian site founded by Saint Ciaran in the 6th century on the banks of the River Shannon. The site includes the ruins of a cathedral, eight churches (10th-13th century), two round towers, three high crosses and a large collection of early Christian grave slabs. The original high crosses and grave slabs are on display in the Visitor Centre. There is an audio-visual show as well as a number of exhibitions. Access for people with disabilities to Visitor Centre.

Boyle Abbey, Boyle, Co Roscommon
The Abbey at Boyle was the first successful foundation in Connacht of the Cistercian order which had opened its first Irish house at Mellifont, Co. Louth, in 1142.

Locke's Distillery, Kilbeggan, Co Westmeath
Locke's Distillery in Kilbeggan is believed to be the oldest licensed pot still distillery in the world – in 2007, we celebrated our 250th anniversary! To mark this occasion, we have started to distill Irish Whiskey again in Kilbeggan. Today, our visitors can see and smell the whiskey being distilled in the copper pot still, just like it was in the old days – a real treat for the senses!

Belvedere House, Mullingar, Co Westmeath
A magnificent early 18th century stately home of Robert Rochfort, Earl of Belvedere, stands on 160 acres of parkland on the shores of Lough Ennell. Open seven day a week.

Derryglad Folk Museum, Co Roscommon
No trip to the midlands is complete without a visit to the Derryglad Folk Museum, which is hidden in South Roscommon. This heartland of Ireland is a land of lakes and rivers and of unspoiled and unexplored countryside. The collection deals with Farm & Folk life in Ireland from the 18th century to the recent past.

King House, Co Roscommon
King House is a magnificently restored Georgian Mansion built around 1730 by Sir
Henry King whose family were one of the most powerful and wealthy in Ireland.
The grand scale of the reception gallery, its original stone floor, tripartite
windows and high vaulted ceiling portray the impression that the house was built
as a symbol of the status and power of the King family. After its first life as
a home, King House became a military barracks to the famous Connaught Rangers
from 1788 until 1922. In more recent years King House has also been a barracks
for the Irish Army. Even today there still remains an Army presence as the Reserve
Defence Force are based in the West Wing of the House.

Glendeer Pet Farm, Athlone, Co Westmeath
Glendeer Pet Farm is a very interactive experience as people can feed, pet & even hold some of the animals, which include deer, pot belly pigs, llamas, alpacas, emus, ostriches, goats, donkeys, sheep, jersey cow, a variety of domestic & exotic birds & much more. There are some new arrivals to the farm also including the two cheeky monkeys, wallabies & tortoises. Stretch your legs along the unspoilt nature walk where old horse drawn farm machinery can be viewed. The children can play on the slide, swings, seesaws and very popular glider swing, while adults enjoy fresh coffee/tea and home-made treats.

Explore the midlands of Ireland from Athlone in County Westmeath on your next self-drive vacation to Ireland with Celtic Tours World Vacations

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