Info - The Town of Athlone is recognised throughout Ireland as the biggest town nearest the centre of Ireland. The town is situated almost halfway between the countries two major cities, Dublin and Cork, and has always been an important crossing point on the river Shannon.
Athlone is one of the biggest towns on the Shannon River, and as such has a great deal to offer. There is a wide variety of pubs and restaurants to choose from, as well as major department stores and fast food outlets. Despite the rapid expansion of this bustling town, it has managed to retain its’ old world charm within the narrow streets.
Athlone is at the foot of Lough Ree, one of the biggest lakes to be crossed while cruising the Shannon, and as such offers a wealth of water related sports and activities.
History - The name 'Athlone' is derived from the Irish 'Ath Luan' , which means 'The Ford of Luan'. According to the story, a man called Luan kept a hostelry here and acted as a guide to travellers who needed to cross the wild currents of the river.
Due to its location in the centre of Ireland, Athlone has always been
of great strategic importance and has always housed a garrison of some
sort. The current garrison is known as Custume Barracks, and was built
in the 1690s. The original wooden fort at Athlone was replaced in 1210
by the Normans, and the town walls were built in 1257. The town was
the scene for many fierce battles, and the walls and castle have been
partially destroyed and rebuilt many times over the years, although
there is little evidence remaining of the town walls.
The Cathedral pictured here should really be on the West Athlone page as it is on the west bank of
the Shannon , but the older part of the town is more photographic and the picture was taken from
the east side, well that's my excuse anyway.
The main reason there is so many pubs listed in Athlone is due to the fact we spend four nights, one
in 1999 and three in 2000 when we picked up our boat from Athlone Cruisers at
the Jolly Mariner Marina in 1999 and our Emerald Star from Portumna in 2000.
● Conlon's bar is in the main road. The small entrance leads to a long bar which opens up towards the
back. The main bar is towards the back of place, which is somewhat unusual. There is also seating upstairs.
Like many Irish pubs it was somewhat dimly lit. The pub also served food which appeared to be the
standard kept warm at the bar type, we never tried the food here. This was the first pub we visited
in Athlone and after slacking our thirst we carried on exploring Athlone.
● Gertie Browne
lies just off the main road near the bridge and is clearly
visible from the traffic lights at the bridge. The bar looks as if it's
always closed, but is actually very busy. On entering the bar you will
notice that the wooden exterior is reflected inside, which gives the place a
dark and somewhat gloomy atmosphere. The front bar was always crowded when
we were there, however once past the first bar you find your self in a
labyrinth of small rooms and cubby holes containing various seating
arrangements. There was also meant to be a restaurant somewhere in the
basement but as we were not eating there we never did find it. The place is
extremely dimly lit, especially at the back as there are no external windows
and gets very crowded (and noisy) at night.|
There are several old prints and photographs scattered around the rooms including one of the largest pile of Guinness barrels I've ever seen.
All in all an interesting and unusual bar. Who Gertie Browne was (and why the backward R in the name) I do not know but I noticed that there appears to be a plaque on the outside of the bar in the photograph, which I did not notice until the film was developed.
Custom Place, Athlone, Co Westmeath. Tel: 0902 74848
● Kelly's bar is just beyond Conlon's. The bar did not appear to serve food and was not particularly busy
when we arrived. The bar was near the front as you come in with several seating areas towards the back,
but the place did look like it needed some work done on the interior|
The bar seemed to be used by locals. Although there was nothing particularly wrong with the bar, there was nothing really memorable about the place. It was convenient and quiet, and there was nothing wrong with Guinness. There are however better bars in Athlone.
North Gate Inn
● The North Gate Inn is the first bar you'll see if you are leaving the marina. It is just beyond the marina's
entrance with the main street being off to the left. The bar is also a restaurant but we never tried the food
there. Unusually there is two separate bars with a small area just to the left as you enter and the
main bar towards the back. As there was no sign of the restaurant I assume that it was upstairs with
the balcony in the picture being used in good weather.|
The whole place was quite but busy both times we visited it (as it was convenient for the marina) and the service was good, as was the beer.
Jolly Mariner Marina
|● Athlone Cruisers has its base here.
We didn't try the pub / restaurant as it was closed when we arrived to pick
up the boat. A bit off the beaten track (except for marina access).|
Coosan Road, Athlone, Westmeath. Phone:+353 902 72113
Other Athlone Bars or Bar/Restaurants not visitedWe have not yet visited these places, and therefore any comments have been taken from the www, and are not by me. Click Here
Comments and additional material on the bars in this area are always welcome.
I can be contacted on Neil MacPherson.
Last Updated 26nd December 2004 - Neils Travel Web - Ireland - East Athlone - Pubs