Posted by: mdmusingsie | July 19, 2010

Leaving Athlone

My stay in Athlone was brief, but as I drove through town at 2 am, returning from the concert, it looked like a nice place. There were quite a few young (teens +/-) wandering the streets at that hour, oddly.

In the morning I walked over to Athlone Castle, which is a massive structure that looks very well intact. However, the information office, gift shop, and café had all been closed. A gentleman on the grounds said they were undergoing restorations in the castle and that’s why it was closed, but I saw no evidence to corroborate. However to be fair they could be doing things inside. It’s quite a shame as it was the 800th anniversary of the building of the structure, and compared with many of the castles around Ireland, it looks to be in very good shape. More likely a monetary issue.

The intent was to head down to Cork so I decided to go through Roscrea as they had a castle and heritage center (ah, yes, Castle hunting part two in full swing). The Castle, built in the late 13th century, and a good part of the walls around the courtyard are mostly intact, including a drawbridge and oubliette (aka dungeon). Currently, the draw bridge is more like a balcony, but at one time it spanned a moat. As the structure is in the Tower House style, the steps were narrow, uneven, and circular. There was a huge fireplace on the 1st floor (2nd floor in the US – here they call the first floor the ground floor) and the acoustics are so good that I heard someone say they held concerts in the hall.

In 1722 the Damer’s built a Queen Anne style house in the center of the courtyard. From an architectural standpoint, it’s a sharp contrast between the tiny, narrow castle windows to the tall abundance of windows in the town house. They only have a few rooms open in the Damer House because it was used as a military barracks for over 100 years, a sanatorium, and a boys prep school, so they are still in the process of trying to restore it to what it would have looked like as a private residence. One of the original features that still remain is the beautifully carved red pine staircase.

There is also a formal walled garden on the grounds which had a beautiful display of snapdragons in bloom among other plants.

That was all the sightseeing I managed to get in on my way to Cork, as I’m starting to worry that I won’t have all my writing projects ready for the conference next week. It’s amazing how much time this blog requires – I hope you folks appreciate it!

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Responses

  1. Yes! We do appreciate the time you take to share your travel adventures – thank you Dawn 🙂 It has been great to read about Ireland from your perspective – funny, entertaining and informative.
    Safe travels back to the US!
    ~ Carin

  2. […] my way to Galway recently I stopped to visit Athlone Castle.  I had visited this castle once before, however; only the stone outer structures were available for viewing. Since then I had heard that […]


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