Experience a magnificent immersive journey through history at Athlone Castle Visitor Centre and Museum, where you can test replica weapons, enjoy games from that era and take photographs dressed in period costumes.
Step back in time and discover the history of Athlone through a series of interactive and audio visual exhibitions. Our friendly staff and volunteers will be on hand to guide you as you explore our handling collection and take photos dressed in our period costumes.
Explore the coveted artefacts and learn about the first 400 years of the castle. It was built as a timber fort in the 12th century and developed into a major defensive structure. You can still see parts of the original castle here on the banks of the River Shannon in the heart of the Lakelands.
Follow the striking illustrations by Victor Ambrus before you experience the intensity of the 1691 battle in a 360° cinematic experience. Meet the People of the Siege, in their sculptural forms bringing the soldiers to life.
You can also enjoy the wonderful voice of John Count McCormack in an exhibition dedicated to the memory of our world-famous tenor, as you explore the military, social and industrial history of Athlone.
Highlights of the Athlone Castle experience include:
Gallery One, ‘Early Settlement in Athlone’: covers Athlone’s early history and settlements in an audio-visual-led space. A 3D map is a major feature; a sculptural representation of Ireland onto which are projected the significant historic periods such as the Vikings and the Normans.
Gallery Two, ‘Athlone Castle’s first 400 years’: This gallery explores the political upheaval in Athlone in Medieval times. The gallery includes three touch-screens for multi-user engagement, also interactive ‘Build a Castle’ and hands on opportunity to try out the weapons of the day that will appeal to all age groups.
Gallery Three, ‘Athlone Besieged’: Reveals the events leading up to the Siege of Athlone in 1690 and 1691. The gallery is a 360° drum wrapped with sketches by Victor Ambrus of armies in battle. An audio narrative featuring three characters gives visitors the human perspective of what it was like to live in Athlone at that time.
Gallery Four, ‘The Siege Experience’: Located in the Upper Keep of the castle, a naturally circular space, the gallery uses a 360° projection to depict the heat and intensity of the bloody battle. A large soundscape using 4D layering surrounds visitors, putting them right in the midst of the fight.
Gallery Five, ‘People of the Siege’: Life-size sculptural representations of eight key characters involved including army generals who led the attack and defense. The sculptures are abstract in form and use modern materials to create body shapes supported by audio for each figure to aid the storytelling.
Gallery Six, ‘The Fabric of Athlone’: Here visitors come to understand the town over the last 200 years in terms of trade, commerce, politics and religion. There are modern reflections of life in Athlone told through specific objects displayed in woven units that contain small apertures through which visitors can peek. This gallery is strongly visual, featuring bold and surprising uses of colour and layered images so that they interweave at different levels along a 3D timeline.
Gallery Seven, ‘A Self Sufficient People’: Set in the lower keep of the Castle, in one continuous display case, the space presents objects from the Old Athlone Society collection that are related to the life of the town, grouped around a number of subjects such as gentry, carpentry, the role of the publican in the community and domestic life.
Gallery Eight, ‘Death and Destruction’: Visitors are led through a dark corridor into a dimly-lit room in which contemporary sculptures tell of how immediately following the Siege of Athlone, survivors were put to the sword, those who tried to escape but were caught, were slaughtered. In the background visitors hear the recitation of a moving poem written about the tragic events.
Facilities at Athlone Castle
- Café with light refreshments - Tea/Coffee/Juice/Snacks
- Visitor Centre is wheelchair accessible with a lift in Gallery 2
The seasonal Fáilte Ireland tourist office located in Athlone Castle courtyard is now open for the Summer Season.