For young or old, this is an opportunity to explore. Climb the steps to the castle keep and enjoy the view across the majestic River Shannon or climb higher still to the castle turrets and look across the rooftops of the whole town. Then take a step back in history.
All year round the new Athlone to Mullingar Greenway is the perfect way to get out with the kids and enjoy the fresh air. Bring your own bikes or hire them where the trail begins in Garrycastle. The route follows the old railway line for over 40kms all the way to Mullingar and because it’s for bikes and pedestrians only, it couldn’t be safer. Plus there are no hills so it’s easy on little legs too. There are entry and exit points every few kilometres so there are plenty of places to stop and explore along the way. The whole family will love Dún na Sí Amenity & Heritage Park just outside Moate. With beautiful grounds, stone ring forts, fantastic sculptures, a brilliant playground and a fab café for mum and dad, it’s sure to be a hit. After that, there are old station platforms, towering bridges, beautiful countryside and even an deep rail tunnel. Whether you choose to just do a small section or to use Athlone as your base and do it all over a few days, the Old Rail Trail is a cycling route where you can let go and really enjoy.
Stroll across the bridge in Athlone and nestling on the right hand bank you’ll find the stunning Luan Gallery. A showcase for the most interesting artists from the midlands, Ireland and abroad, the building itself is a modern work of art in its own right. With floor to ceiling windows offering uninterrupted views across the majestic Shannon water, it’s a space that gives the work real room to breath. There’s always an eclectic and balanced mix of media on display from painting to sculpture to textiles. Entry is completely free and if you’d like a one on one tour, that’s free too. All you have to do is ask. What’s more the collection on display changes every two months so there’s always something new to see. A feast for the eyes, it’s a fantastic way to spend some time.
Immerse yourself in over 250 years of Irish whiskey making at Kilbeggan Distillery, the heart of Kilbeggan town for two centuries. See the 19th century water wheel that’s still in use and the steam engine, which is still fired up on special occasions. You’ll enjoy a visit to the old warehouses and even get to meet the onsite distillers. But no trip to a distillery is complete without a wee drop. So a tour that’s literally steeped in history, treat yourself to a master class in tasting Kilbeggan’s four unique Irish Whiskeys, Greenore Single Grain, Kilbeggan Irish whiskey, Tyrconnell Single Malt and Connemara Peated Single Malt. If you’re the designated driver don’t worry. You’ll get a taster size to enjoy the moment you get home.
No trip to the midlands is complete without a visit to the Derryglad Folk Museum. The collection showcases Farm & Folk life in Ireland from the 18th century to the recent past. See all sorts of artefacts from a time gone by, from horse-drawn machinery restored to the original working order to a 1930's old-style thatched bar & grocery. It's a step back in time and a picture of bygone days.
Just 10 minutes from Athlone in Moate, you find Dún na Sí Amenity & Heritage Park, a wonderful get away that’s full of natural beauty. With a series of paths, a wetland reserve, parklands and a children’s playground, it’s a fabulous place to get out for a stroll. You’ll see lots of birdlife, native trees and planting. There’s also a tourlough that’s bursting with life.
Since prehistoric times, the Hill of Uisneach has been the great assembly for the tribes and High Kings of Ireland. It was here that laws were made and disputes settled. A place of energy and renewal, people have been drawn here for over 5000 years. This was the seat of High Kings, a sacred site of worship, the place where St. Patrick established a presence and the burial ground for Éiru, the goddess after whom the Ireland was named. And it was from here that Catholic Bishops met in 1111AD to begin the work of dividing Ireland into Dioceses. This is the royal centre of Ireland and the coming together of the five provinces. The fifth being Mide, the magical ‘otherworld’. This sacred site still hosts Ireland’s oldest festival, the Uisneach Bealtaine celebration. It is a festival of Irish culture, art, heritage, ceremony and sport which has been held here every May since time memorial.
With fairways that taper to the waters edge, Athlone Golf Club is one of the most picturesque golf courses in Ireland. For enthusiasts or friends searching for fun in the fresh air, it’s the perfect place to play. With all sand based greens and tees to a USGA standard, the course is a delight to play all year round. All the gear you need is available for hire on site and guests are always welcome.
This is a place for where you’ll want to pack a picnic and spend the day. Whether you enjoy walking, cycling, angling or bird watching, Lough Boora Parklands has something for you. Featuring walking and biking trails that stretch from 3km to 16km, you enjoy an abundance of wild flowers and wild life along the way.
Less than an hour’s easy drive north of Athlone, you arrive at Lough Key Forest Park and whole host of attractions for all ages. Work as a team and survive a quest in the all-weather Boda Borg. Walk among the treetops on Ireland’s only canopy walk. Play, play and play some more in Adventure Kingdom.
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At Athlone Food Circle we have put together a fantastic Christmas gift guide featuring our members so you can support local businesses and easily pick up one of theses gifts in Athlone and wider areas or online.
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