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Celebrate Culture Night at Athlone Castle, Luan Gallery & Abbey Road Artist’s Studios!

Culture Night 2018 events at Abbey Road Artists' Studios%2C Athlone Castle and Luan Gallery on Friday 21st September.

Athlone Castle, Luan Gallery and Abbey Road Artists’ Studios are delighted to be offering a busy and exciting schedule of free events for Culture Night 2018 on Friday 21st September.

Culture Night visitors to Athlone Castle, will be treated to rousing performances in the castle courtyard by the Athlone Pipe Band at 6.15pm, and the Army Band of the 2nd Brigade at 7.15pm.  These events are weather permitting, and are subject to change. There will be free entry to the Athlone Castle Visitor Centre from 5.30pm until 8pm (with last entry at 7.30pm). Visitors can also take the opportunity to view the temporary travelling exhibition “Jacob’s Biscuit Factory & Dublin: An Assorted History” on display in the Visitor Centre during this time.

Luan Gallery will host free guided tours by the artists of the gallery’s latest exhibitions; If Not for You by Eoin Francis McCormack and Living in a bubble by Susanne Wawra. These tours will take place from 6.15pm to 7.15pm. The gallery will also hold Drop-in Art Workshops for children aged 6 – 12 from 5.30pm to 7pm (with the last workshop at 6.15pm). Members of the Award Winning local community group “Poetry in the Park” will provide music and poetry in the gallery from 7.30pm to 8pm.

In Abbey Road Artists’ Studios, visitors will have the chance to experience Open Studios from 4.30pm to 7pm, which provides a unique behind-the-scenes view of the artists’ studios. The current resident artists of Abbey Road; Calvin Doyle, Leigh Francis, Lelia Henry, Eoin Francis McCormack invite you to their Culture Night exhibition entitled; Welcome to the neighbourhood’ which will be opened by Senator Gabrielle McFadden and all are welcome to attend the launch at 5.30pm.

Culture Night is a wonderful nationwide initiative that invites people to spend their evening exploring the best cultural offerings of their town. With museums, galleries and artists’ studios extending their opening hours all around the country, Culture Night is the perfect opportunity to visit sites that you may ordinarily miss out on due to your work schedule. Athlone Arts and Tourism look forward to welcoming the public to our celebration of culture!

A full schedule of events with further details and times is available to view on and

Queries and requests for further information should be addressed to Athlone Castle on 090 6442130 and Luan Gallery on 090 6442154.

Art and the Vote – Schools Poster Competition

Attention all 5th & 6th Class Students in Westmeath!

Irish women’s suffrage campaign school art competition

Athlone Castle and Luan Gallery are celebrating the one hundred year anniversary of Irish women first winning the right to vote, and we would like to invite students to get involved!

To commemorate the centenary of the first granting of votes to women in 1918, we are exploring the Irish women’s suffrage campaign through the art it produced. Irish suffragists created posters, pictures, and cartoons to display to the public to try and convince them to allow women to have a vote. We are inviting students to produce their own posters responding to this theme and enter them in our competition for a chance to win some great prizes. Students from all 5th and 6th classes from schools in Co. Westmeath are invited to design a poster or cartoon that they think would have helped to persuade people to give women the vote back in 1918.

A 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize winner will be announced on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and by contact with the schools involved. There will also be some prizes for a number of Highly Commended entries. Prizes include fantastic art supplies packs to the values of €50.00, €40.00, and €30.00, brilliant books, and family passes for admission to Athlone Castle Visitor Centre. Each school which enters the competition will also be entered into a draw to win a free school tour for their class to Athlone Castle!

A prize giving ceremony will take place in Athlone Castle at 2pm on Saturday 17th November. The winning entries, and a number of highly commended choices, will go on public display in the reception area of Athlone Castle Visitor Centre until the 30th of November.

Join us in being part of the centenary celebrations of one hundred years since women first won the right to vote! Entries can be posted to:

Art and the Vote Competition,
Athlone Castle Visitor Centre,
St. Peter’s Square,

The closing date for entries is Thursday 18th October at 5pm. For further information, please contact This project is kindly supported by Westmeath County Council and the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

Athlone Castle Visitor Centre logo
Luan Gallery logo
Westmeath County Council
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht logo

Luan Gallery Education Programme for Primary and Secondary Schools

Luan Gallery is a purpose built art gallery space incorporating the renovated and extended 1897 Fr Mathew Hall. Delivering a varied exhibitions programme featuring work by both emerging and established artists from home and abroad, Luan Gallery acts as a resource for the entire community.

Many studies have shown that gallery visits enhance pupils’ learning experiences and at Luan Gallery we strive to ensure that pupils’ visits are enjoyable, relaxed, stimulating and educational. We are committed to encouraging pupils to engage with and think about visual art which in turn helps to develop new skills and confidence.

Primary Schools

We have developed numerous resource materials including activity worksheets, catalogues, tours and workshops each designed to support the meaningful delivery of qualitative art viewing experiences to students, in support of the school curriculum.

Secondary Schools

We have developed a number of resource materials including a Leaving Certificate Art Appreciation Workbook, catalogues, talks, tours and workshops each designed to support the meaningful delivery of the art curriculum to second level students.

For more information on our education programmes, download the booklets below.

Primary School booklet
Secondary School booklet
Primary Schools Education booklet 2016 Secondary Schools Education booklet 2016


Athlone Castle Visitor Centre officially opens as a new €4.3million state-of-the-art, interactive visitor experience

Athlone Castle Keep and Courtyard

Athlone Castle Visitor Centre, the country’s latest state-of-the-art, interactive visitor experience, was officially opened by Minister of State for Tourism and Sport, Michael Ring T.D. on Tuesday 26th February. The 13th century castle has undergone a dramatic renovation to become the country’s newest flagship visitor attraction. A total of €4.3million has been invested in the new tourist facility by Fáilte Ireland and Athlone Town Council.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Minister Ring said, “The new Athlone Castle Visitor Centre is an exciting new tourism attraction and a fantastic asset for the midlands. It will help the region to attract more visitors from home and abroad and complements existing attractions like Luan Gallery, Athlone’s new contemporary art gallery. I want to congratulate everyone involved for bringing this project to life."

The new participatory experience was developed by Event Communications; the company behind the acclaimed Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre and Belfast’s Titanic Museum.

An engaging, fun and unique family attraction, Athlone Castle includes eight individual galleries, each depicting a different aspect of life in Athlone down through the ages. Fun, hands-on experiences and educational narratives immerse visitors in the drama, tragedy and spectacle of Athlone’s diverse and fascinating story.

“At Ireland’s ancient gateway to the West, we now have a fully 21st century visitor experience which blends Athlone’s historic sites into a lively hi-tech and interactive tourism experience.”

Colm Breheny, Client Services Manager, Fáilte Ireland explained the importance of developing tourism offerings in the area, “At Ireland’s ancient gateway to the West, we now have a fully 21st century visitor experience which blends Athlone’s historic sites into a lively hi-tech and interactive tourism experience. As the national tourism authority we are delighted to be supporting this development in the Lakelands region and this investment clearly signifies Fáilte Ireland’s commitment to ensuring that there are plenty of reasons for visitors to come and indeed return to Athlone this year, and into the future.”

The rejuvenated cultural attraction brings a little piece of Hollywood to the midlands; Windsor Workshop, prop designers for block-buster films including Harry Potter, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Star Wars Episode 1 created some of the elements of the new castle experience. 3D maps, audio-visual installations and illustrations by renowned artist Victor Ambrus (best known for his work on Channel 4’s archaeology series Time Team), bring the stories and characters of Athlone to life.

Jim Henson, Mayor of Athlone said, “Today is a great day for the people of Athlone and the midlands - we have an outstanding visitor experience in the new Athlone Castle Visitor Centre and one we should be very proud of.”

Further good news for Athlone was confirmed by CIE Tours International who recently announced that it will include Athlone town and specifically Athlone Castle Visitor Centre, along with nearby Glasson village in its itinerary from next month. This is the first time that destinations in the midlands have been included in the company’s guided tour packages which have traditionally focused on coastal destinations. The tours will bring hundreds of additional tourists to the region throughout the tourist season.

Refreshments served at the official opening event were kindly sponsored by the Radisson Blu Hotel, Athlone and Sean’s bar.

Fáilte Ireland statistics reveal that 3.5 million overseas visitors engaged in some form of heritage or cultural tourism in Ireland in 2011, spending an estimated €2.8 billion. 2.5 million or two in every five overseas visitors visited a historic house or castle while two in every five (41%) domestic holidaymakers visited a place of cultural interest while on holiday in Ireland in 2011.

Athlone Castle is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11.00 – 17.00 and Sundays 12.00 – 17.00.  Call: 0906442130 or visit for admission details and further information.

Follow: #AthloneCastle

New contemporary art gallery opens in Athlone

A new contemporary art gallery was officially opened in Athlone on Thursday 29th November 2012 by Jimmy Deenihan T.D., Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. Luan Gallery is the first purpose-built, municipal visual art gallery located in the midlands. The aim of the new space, run by Athlone Art and Heritage Ltd., is to promote a dynamic contemporary visual art programme of both established and emerging artists.

A total of €3.4 million was invested in the development of the gallery by the Border Midland and Western Regional Assembly, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and Athlone Town Council.

The 575 m2 gallery was designed by Keith Williams Architects who also designed the Wexford Opera House. The new dedicated art space is located on a spectacular site overlooking the River Shannon, adjacent to the town’s historic bridge, Athlone Castle and the Catholic Church of St. Peter and St. Paul. The scheme adapts the town’s historic 1897 Father Mathew Hall into a new gallery, adds a new wing with state-of-the-art audio visual capabilities and a riverfront gallery space overlooking the Shannon.

Minister Deenihan said, “This stunningly designed gallery will serve to display the great wealth of local artistic talent and will allow the artists involved an opportunity to showcase their work. The Gallery along with Athlone Castle which has just re-opened as a state-of-the-art multi-sensory visitor attraction after extensive renovation certainly puts Athlone in a strong position to become a vibrant and attractive location for artistic endeavour in the years to come."

Jim Henson, Mayor of Athlone said, “It is fantastic to see this landmark building with new life and function as a modern gallery space. This site will continue to inspire people as it has always done for generations to come.”

The development of the Luan Gallery is part of a larger ‘cultural revival’ programme being implemented in the midlands town. Athlone Castle has just re-opened as a state-of-the-art, multi-sensory visitor attraction following an extensive renovation project carried out by Event Communications, a London and Dublin based company that also developed the Belfast Titanic Visitor Experience and the Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre. Athlone Art and Heritage Ltd. has also recently developed Abbey Road Artists’ Studios supporting the professional development of local and visiting arts practitioners in a dedicated space.
The Luan Gallery opens to the on Friday 30th November, with an exhibition featuring the work of acclaimed Irish and International artists from the Irish Museum of Modern Art’s (IMMA) permanent collection. Entry to the exhibition is free.

Danny McLoughlin, Westmeath County Manager said, “The new Luan Gallery is a wonderful addition to Athlone and the county of Westmeath. It is a rich resource that will add significantly to the landscape of the wider midlands region.”

The name of the new gallery derives from the Irish for Athlone, 'Baile Áth Luain' and was chosen following a public competition to suggest a name for the new facility.

Contact: / tel: 09064 42154.
Luan Gallery, Grace Road, Athlone, Co. Westmeath


Athlone’s new multi-million euro Luan Gallery open to the public from 30th November

Luan Gallery

Luan Gallery, Athlone’s new contemporary art gallery will be officially opened by Jimmy Deenihan T.D., Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht on Thursday 29th November 2012. The new gallery will open to the public the following day, Friday 30th November with a prestigious exhibition from the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) featuring the work of accomplished national and international artists including Daphne Wright and Shane Cullen.

The beautiful new art hub, which sits proudly on the banks of the Shannon marrying traditional and modern architecture, is the first purpose-built, modern visual art gallery to be located in the midlands. It is also the first new visual art gallery to be opened in the country in over three years.

Hugh O’Reilly, Athlone Town Clerk said, “The opening of Luan Gallery is great news for art and culture in Athlone and the midlands region.  As well as adding significantly to the social fabric of the town it will be a boost for tourism related businesses in Athlone and the surrounding area.”

Mayor of Athlone, Jim Henson said, “It is quite a coup to have an exhibition from the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) as the Luan Gallery’s opening exhibition. This demonstrates how the new gallery will be a dedicated space for the collection and display of progressive and innovative art in the heart of the country.”

The name ‘Luan’ derives from the Irish for Athlone, 'Baile Átha Luain'. Entry to the Luan Gallery is free.

For further information contact:


T: 090 6442154


Athlone Castle to open on 6th November 2012

photo by rua Photography

Athlone castle will re-open its doors to the public on Tuesday 6th November 2012 following a multi-million euro renovation to transform the castle into a state-of-the-art, multi-sensory visitor experience. The first visitors to the region’s flagship visitor attraction will be the students of Cornamaddy School who were the last visitors to Athlone Castle before it closed for renovation work in November 2011.

A number of students accompanied by their teachers will enjoy a guided tour of the Castle where they can experience first-hand the interactive and participatory aspect of the impressive new visitor experience.

First built in the 13th century as a timber fort, Athlone Castle evolved into a bold, defensive building. Its most significant architectural features, such as the keep, have now been harnessed to act as a dramatic backdrop to its diverse and fascinating story.

The eight newly designed exhibition spaces pursue both a chronological and thematic sequence combining hands-on and fun experiences that will appeal to both children and adults. Bold sculptural forms help to convey human figures and historical milestones. 3D maps, audio-visual installations and illustrations by renowned illustrator Victor Ambrus (best known for his work on Channel 4’s Time Team), bring the stories and characters of Athlone to life.

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 360o 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 360o 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.

Athlone Castle is open:
High Season (March 17th – October 31st) Monday – Saturday 10am – 6pm, Sunday 12pm – 6pm
Low Season (November 1st – March 16th) Tuesday – Sunday 11am – 5pm, Sunday 12pm – 5pm

Admission details:
Adult Single €8.00
OAP/Student €6.00
Children/U15 €4.00
Family (2 adults up to 4 children) €20.00
Group bookings on request


T: 0906442130



Athlone Art and Heritage Ltd invite proposals for artworks in the form of outdoor art or installation to accompany the opening ceremony of Luan Gallery. We welcome ideas from artists working in all creative disciplines to add innovative elements to the official opening ceremony under the theme of ‘Red Carpet’. Partnership with this event is a perfect ‘stage’ for both artists and arts groups. The work will be seen by an active, creative and engaged audience, by regionally and internationally based arts practitioners, and by local stakeholders.


Luan Gallery, Athlone’s new contemporary art space, shall open its doors for the first time in November. Project concepts, including visual media and design works, temporary installations, time-based media, musical presentations, dance, movement art, theatre, sound performance and interactive concepts are encouraged. It is understood that existing work may be submitted.

Athlone Art and Heritage Ltd will promote the accepted artist(s), performer(s) and/or group(s) through various media and promotional channels.

The available budget for this project is €500. All costs involved with presentation, art installation, de-installation, performance, artist(s) fees and/or supplies, must be included in the proposal budget.

Art in all mediums will be considered. Proposed outdoor installations and concepts should be suitable for the Luan Gallery opening ceremony and its site.

The selection panel reserves the right to not make a selection if it is considered that none of the proposals submitted are appropriate for the space or the occasion.

Submitting artists are encouraged to make the most of the outdoor space, the exterior of the building, the river and the surrounding area.

Proposals must be:

a) Flexible to the space requirements,

b) Minimally invasive, and

c) Leave the space in the same condition in which it was found.

Proposals must include:

• a one-page description of the project,

• a brief bio of the performer/artist/group,

• a detailed budget within €500

• Images or drawings - no more than 5 images (JPG, 10 MB or less), or a one-minute digital sample of the work (maximum 20MB).

Proposals should be sent to:

Aedín McGinn, Visual Art Coordinator at:

All proposals should contain “Luan Gallery site proposal_Your Name” in the subject line. Deadline for submissions is 5.30pm Monday 5th November 2012. Good Luck!

CIE Tours International to add midlands destinations to its itinerary for the first time

CIE Tours International will include the midland locations of Athlone town and Glasson village in its 2013 itineraries from March of next year. This is the first time that destinations in the midlands have been included in the tour company's guided tour packages which have traditionally focused on coastal destinations. The tours will bring hundreds of additional tourists to the region during the tourist season.

The renovation of Athlone Castle, the region's flagship visitor experience is a crucial element of the attraction of Athlone. The 13th century castle has undergone significant renovation work since November 2011 resulting in the offering of a state-of-the-art tourist attraction, of international standard to incoming tourists. The new Athlone Castle visitor experience was developed by Event Communications which also worked on the impressive Belfast's Titanic Museum and the Giant's Causeway Visitor Centre.

Conor Wall, Quality Manager, CIE Tours International, said, "The newly renovated Athlone Castle will deliver a hugely impressive interactive and participatory experience, which will have a strong appeal to US visitors. The Castle Museum element of the itinerary is complimented by a stay in Glasson village, which is a beautiful area with idyllic scenery and excellent quality accommodation and food. We are excited about expanding our tour offering to include these destinations in the midlands."

Hugh O'Reilly, Athlone Town Clerk said, "Athlone is undergoing something of a cultural revival at the moment. Athlone Town Council and Fáilte Ireland have made significant investment in the renovation of Athlone Castle. We also have the development of the Luan Gallery, a new contemporary art gallery in Athlone. Both facilities will be fantastic assets to the midlands region and are already reaping rewards in the form of this CIE Tours International announcement. We anticipate that both facilities will generate significant visitor spend in the region."

Athlone’s New Art Gallery to be named the Luan Gallery

Athlone’s new contemporary art gallery has been named the Luan Gallery following an extensive public consultation, Athlone Art and Heritage Ltd. has announced. Almost 250 names were proposed by the public before the list was whittled down to 20 by Athlone Town Council. The new name was agreed by town councillors and the board of Athlone Arts and Heritage at a meeting earlier this week.

According to Gearoid O’Brien in his book ‘Athlone - On the Shannon’, the name Luan comes from the Irish for Athlone, 'Baile Áth Luain'. Several versions of the name 'Luan' appear in early Irish literature. A popular version of the history of the name involves the town's first entrepreneur Luan Mac Luighdeach (or Luan the son of Lewy), who lived at the end of the first century. It is believed that he ran an inn close to the river and frequently guided travellers across the waters. In time the crossing became known as 'Áth Luain' or 'the Ford of Luan'. Other suggestions are that Luan is derived from 'Luna' which is Latin for moon.

Miriam Mulrennan, Athlone Art and Heritage Manager said, “This is a very important and exciting milestone in the development of Athlone’s new contemporary art gallery. We would like to sincerely thank everyone who suggested a name and participated in this decision which involved a lot of thought and consideration. I am delighted that the name reflects a strong sense of place and heritage as well as suggesting a link to moonlight – our aim is that the new Luan Gallery will be a beacon of progressive and innovative works of art in the heart of the country.”

As a number of people proposed the name Luan a draw will take place in the coming weeks and the winner will be contacted in due course. Work on the new Luan Gallery and Athlone Castle is due to be complete at the end of this month and is it expected that both facilities will open in October. An exhibition featuring the work of accomplished national and international artists is currently being planned for the Luan Art Gallery in November.

About Gearoid O’Brien: Gearoid is the Senior Executive Librarian with the Westmeath County Library Service in the Aidan Heavy Library in Athlone and is a subject specialist in local studies. He has written over a dozen publications of the history of Athlone.