Ireland - Shannon Bars and Restaurants - West Athlone - Neils Travel WebIreland - Shannon Bars and Restaurants - West Athlone - Neils Travel WebShannon Towns & Bars - West Athlone

Ireland - Shannon Bars and Restaurants - West Athlone - Neils Travel WebIreland - Shannon Bars and Restaurants - West Athlone - Neils Travel WebShannon Towns & Bars - West Athlone

Ireland - Shannon Bars and Restaurants - West Athlone - Neils Travel WebIreland - Shannon Bars and Restaurants - West Athlone - Neils Travel WebShannon Towns & Bars - West Athlone

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.

Our bit - As Athlone is the largest town on the Shannon I've listed the pubs according to which side of the river they are on. Most of old Athlone lies on the West side of the Shannon and all the pubs listed here can be found around the Fort part of which is pictured here.
There is a distinct change of character between the old part of the town and east bank. The older town appeared to be more lively and crowded than the east, especially on the Friday and Saturday nights we were there.

At the ChineseMarinaMarinaWest Bank
East Athlone Pubs

The Castle Inn

Castle Inn ● The Castle Inn is situated just behind the castle / fort as it's name suggests. This is where we started our 2000 holiday with our first pint of Guinness. Due to traffic problems we were late getting into Athlone and by the time we had moved the boat from the pickup point just outside Athlone to the main moorings in Athlone it was around 20:30. Having stocked the boat with basic supplies and grabbed a meal in a very good upstairs Pizza place almost opposite Gertie Browne's we crossed the river in search of our first pint Guinness. We headed to Sean's Bar but that was so crowded we crossed the road to the Castle. This was also crowded, but at least we could get into to bar.
It was as we were gratefully supping out much needed drinks that we noticed the time was 23:20, thank God for Irish opening hours.
The pub itself is fairly large with separate rooms on either side of the central bar which serves both rooms. I possibly marked the pub down a bit as it was so crowded (but it was a Bank Holiday Saturday). However it was a reasonable pub and the drinkers and staff were friendly. In all it was a fairly good bar which served us a much need few pints of Guinness.

June 2000

The Keg

● The Keg is the only bar listed here which is not in sight of the Fort. It is situated on the main road which crosses  the bridge and goes down the side of the Palace (below). It is probably the quietest bar we visited on the west side, which in it self was a refreshing change. On entering the bar you find a long fairly narrow room with the bar down the right hand side with the seating down the left.
It was not a spectacular bar but was much needed quiet spot where we could easily get served. The only down side was that at the end of the night as we left after being told that they were closing we bumped into some 'locals' who were obviously going into the bar for a drink.
Barrack st Athlone Co. Westmeath, (0902) 93013

June 2000

The Palace

The Palace ● The Place is the large modern pub, which tries to look traditional. Situated opposite the fort on the other side of the open square. It's was very well decorated on the interior but gave me the impression of one of those theme / chain pubs that are a destroying the traditional pubs in England. They did serve food but as it was being kept warm under infra-red lights we avoided it. We visited it during the day and the place was empty. On our second visit to Ireland we passed the Palace (when the photograph was taken) and it appeared to packed and there was recorded music blaring out from it.
The Palace was an exception to our pub visits in Ireland. Its a type of pub I don't really fancy, and in my opinion had deteriorated by our second visit to Athlone. Needless to say we did not visit it again. Fortunately this was an exception in Ireland, and hopefully not a sign of thing to come.

September 1999

Sean's Bar

Sean's Bar ● Sean's bar was meant to be our target for the first night we were in Athlone. It is reported to be the oldest bar in Ireland, the claim being based on part of a wall which was found when the building was being renovated (part of which can still be seen hanging on the wall in the main bar). We eventually managed to get a drink here on the Thursday but even then it was still crowded. The drawing on the right comes from a leaflet which was in the pub describing its history.
The main problem with Sean's is its size. The main bar is long and narrow with the bar down the left hand side. There is some seating just as you come in but unless you get there very early this will be taken. There is virtually no other seating apart from a bench opposite the bar. There are rooms towards the back of the bar and a beer garden out back. Unfortunately the bar does music most nights, in the front, limiting seating even more and of course if you want to listen to the music the only option is to get there early.
Possibly I'm rating the bar down due to the over crowding and if we could have got a seat I might have enjoyed the place more. Despite that is an interesting place and well worth a visit.

June 2000

Other Athlone Bars or Bar/Restaurants not visited

We 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 29th July 2004 - Neils Travel Web - Ireland - West Athlone - Pubs