Welcome to the Athlone Art and Heritage website.

This has been created by a group of local people who are proud of the town’s history, both ancient and contemporary.


Beautiful scenery and wildlife

beautiful scenery and wildlife

Those of us from Athlone are proud to be home to the oldest pub in Ireland that manned the crossing point of the River Shannon, and today the Shannon plays an important part in showcasing Athlone to visitors, with trips south to Conmacnoise and north to Lough Ree, taking in beautiful scenery and a broad range of wildlife.


There are two theatres in Athlone, the Dean Crowe Theatre & Arts Centre and the Little Theatre. The Little theatre has been around since 1936 and has a smaller programme of events than the much larger Dean Crowe Theatre which has an auditorium able to seat 460, which is a significant number for the size of Athlone’s population.

There was a third, Passionfruit Theatre, founded by Irish playwright and novelist Joe Ducke, Old Vic graduate Emily Campbell, and lighting designer Emma Lohan in 2005 which folded in 2013.

culture athlone heritage

Since 1953 the All-Ireland Drama Festival has been taking place in Athlone each year, bringing together nine amateur drama group finalists from across Ireland. The festival, sponsored by RTÉ since 2004, is supported by an active fringe which involves street theatre, art exhibitions, workshops and events for young people at various venues throughout Athlone.

History of Athlone

Athlone, the "town of Luan's ford" on the River Shannon is about eight kilometres from the geographical centre of Ireland, on the borders of County Westmeath and County Roscommon. Due to its location, in the 1970s it was proposed in the Republican Éire Nua programme to make Athlone the capital city of a federal United Ireland. This proposal is still upheld by the Republican Sinn Féin.

inside castle athlone art

The ford on the River Shannon has been used for thousands of years, during which time a settlement was built around it since it was strategically important. By the 11th century, the King of Connacht built a bridge at Athlone, about 100m south of the current bridge. This bridge was defended by a fort on the west bank of the river which was built in 1129.

By 1210 Athlone Castle replaced the previous earthen structures built to defend the bridge. The castle is the geographical and historical centre of Athlone. The Siege of Athlone destroyed much of the castle, though the 12-sided tower dates from this time, but it was later rebuilt and enlarged.

The battlements and cannon emplacements visible today were installed to prevent a French fleet from sailing up the River Shannon and establishing a bridgehead in Lough Ree. The castle was also home to a small garrison and provided housing for several families until the 1980s. These quarters are now part of the castle museum.

Athlone Castle reopened in 2012 after major renovations transformed it into a visitor centre with eight exhibition spaces including 3D maps and audio-visual installations, including a 360-degree experience of the Siege of Athlone.

A more sedate gathering of historical documents can be found at the Drum Heritage Centre that has collected data about the region from ancient to modern times, including letters from those who fled Ireland, sailing to Boston during the famine years in the middle of the nineteenth century.


The Glendeer Open Farm invites visitors to get close to farm animals and more exotic creatures such as raccoons and monkeys.

A Viking Cruise of the Shannon in a 21-metre long replica Viking Knarr heads north to the Lake of the Kings, or south to Clonmacnoise, the most famous monastic site in Ireland. Fun on the water can be had at Baysports with their world-record inflatable slides or stay on dry land with a number of nature trails and events on the banks of the river or at the Belvedere House gardens, Lough Key Forest Park and others.

Athlone is a popular tourist destination located in the heart of Ireland, offering a range of attractions that cater to a diverse audience. The town is well-known for its rich history, beautiful scenery, and exciting activities. One particular draw that has recently garnered attention is its plethora of sports and betting options.

Beyond sports and betting, Athlone also offers a range of other attractions that are well worth a visit. One popular destination is Athlone Castle, a 12th-century fortress that has been beautifully restored and now houses an interactive museum. Another unique experience can be had at Sean's Bar, which is recognized as the oldest pub in Ireland, dating back to 900 AD.

For those with a penchant for betting, Athlone is home to a number of bookmaking establishments. These bookmakers offer a range of betting options, from horse racing to football matches. In addition to traditional bookmakers, there are also a number of modern betting apps available, allowing visitors to bet on their favorite sports and events from the comfort of their own devices. So whether you're a sports fan or just looking for a unique experience, Athlone is well worth a visit.

lovely landscape lake

River Shannon

Athlone is a popular stop for pleasure craft along the River Shannon. Lough Ree, the largest lake on the Shannon, is a short distance upstream from Athlone, and many boat companies are based out of the town.

For craft to pass through Athlone, it is necessary to use a lock in the river, constructed in the 1840s. Before then, boats used a canal, about a mile and a half long, to the west of the river. The old canal is no longer navigable but is now part of a looped nature trail in the town.

Working closely with the Luan Art Gallery, the Abbey Road Artists' Studios launched in 2011, offering a dedicated space in Athlone for local and visiting artists. There are four individual artists' studios and a large multi-purpose upstairs space suitable for a variety of community cultural events, including exhibitions, performances, workshops and seminars.

Luan Gallery