All About Athlone


‘From culture to art and heritage, and from sport to nature,
Athlone brings you all the love!’

Charming, picturesque and ever-surprising, Athlone is a vibrant town in the heart of Ireland’s Midlands at the edge of Lough Ree. Geographically, it sits in the very middle of the country, but it has also earned a reputation as the centre for all things holiday magic: a destination offering an array of quality experiences that thrill, entertain, educate, amaze and reward. Best-in-class, unmatched experiences enjoyed every year by visitors from near and far and for all kinds of escapes.


At the Heart of It

Athlone is a fascinating town full of personality – with streets that twist and turn, hidden lanes and historical buildings. Take a walk along the River Shannon through the heart of the town and fall in love with the brightly-painted houses, ancient pubs and characterful shops. Feel the living history of the area at Athlone Castle, which stands proud overlooking the town, and explore Clonmacnoise monastic site with its cathedral and seven churches. Relive the wild passion of the Vikings on a Viking Ship tour, or slow right down on a woodland walking trail at Portlick Millennium Forest.

We’re also a town with a buzz and a beating heart that’s defined by its people. From extraordinary restaurateurs to creative talents and those sharing the town’s historical journey, Athlone people strive to deliver their best, making your time with us meaningful and memorable.

Quick Facts

  • The word ‘Athlone’ is the English form of the Irish name Baile Átha Luain which means ‘The town of Luan’s ford’.
  • The town dates back to the Bronze Age and has been strategically important for over 1000 years.
  • Athlone sits on the border of County Roscommon and County Westmeath, Ireland, in the province of Leinster.
  • The town is situated near the southern shore of Lough Ree, with the River Shannon splitting the town in two.
  • A garrison town, Athlone was recognised down through the centuries as an important crossing point on the River Shannon.
  • Athlone is the largest town in The Midlands and the perfect base to use when exploring the Hidden Heartlands region.

Why Choose Athlone?

  • The Heart of Beauty – With stunning natural features, countryside and waterways, Athlone is a love letter to nature. From the Athlone to Mullingar Greenway, to the Shannon Banks Nature Trail, from river to forest and beyond – we’re made for relaxation, rejuvenation and reconnecting.
  • Pulse-Quickening Water Action – The enviable lakeside location makes Athlone the ideal waterways holiday, offering everything from lazy afternoon cruises to white-knuckle powerboat rides and Ireland’s largest inflatable waterpark for five-star family fun.
  • History With Heart – Athlone is a town of dramatic history and heritage. At Athlone Castle, a magnificent immersive journey takes you back to the power and passion, fear and ferocity of the Great Siege of Athlone. While the hauntingly beautiful 6th Century Clonmacnoise is one of the most famous monastic sites in Ireland.
  • World-Class Hospitality – Choose from the best hotels, bed and breakfasts, camping and self-catering accommodation.
  • The Food of Love – Rewarding your great taste, Athlone is one of Ireland’s foodie-hotspots with something for every taste – including two Michelin Star restaurants.
  • Heart With Vibe – Athlone really comes to life after hours and is known across Ireland for its fabulous nightlife – with more pubs than you can count and two top night clubs.
  • The Love of Golf – a true gem of the region is Glasson Golf Course – designed by Ryder Cup hero Christy O’Connor Jnr.
  • A Shopper’s Passion – Athlone may be home to Ireland’s oldest pub, but it also offers the retail paradise of two main shopping centres – Athlone Town Centre and the Golden Island Shopping Centre.

Through Time

Throughout history, Athlone was geographically important as the only crossing point of the River Shannon into Connacht during the Jacobite-Williamite war in Ireland.

Bronze AgeAthlone is the site of an unrecorded Early Christian monastery.
1100sKing Turlough of Connacht built a succession of temporary bridges over the Shannon at Athlone to facilitate his incursions into Meath.
1129King Turlough built the earliest recorded ‘castle’.
Before 1200The Normans reached the Shannon and saw the strategic importance of the river crossing.
1210Bishop John de Gray of Norwich built a new bridge and began the construction of Athlone Castle – an impenetrable fortress positioned to protect the crossing point of the River Shannon. 
1240The Franciscans established a friary.
1566The nine-arched Elizabethan bridge was built.
1569The presidency of Connacht was established.
1690The town was attacked by 10 000 Williamite troops who were repelled by the Jacobites.
1691A second Williamite attack occurred; they crossed the ford and the Castle surrendered to King William’s Army.


Family-friendly places to stay.

Stay in the city and indulge in some retail therapy, spa treatments and cocktails or escape to the outskirts for a luxurious resort taking in views, golfing or enjoy some peaceful R&R.