Athenry welcomes you to explore its medieval past and bright future. Considered one of the best examples of a medieval walled town in Europe, there is plenty to do and places to see in Athenry! Here are some good reads, tips and must-see attractions to help you plan your trip.
Athenry’s historical sites
Here are the key historical sites in and around Athenry. Follow the link to learn more about them in more detail.
Athenry in the fields
The landscape is verdant and flat. Laying on a bed of limestone it is wrinkled only by the winding vestige of the last ice age – the Esker Riada. Lime-fed grass puts strong bone into hunting horses and steeple chasers. A hunting foray with the local foxhounds ‘The Blazers’ over unyielding and over winding stone walls will test the fortitude of the most intrepid rider. The more submissive peatlands to the East and North, rich in heather and birch, is the winter haven of the curlew, woodcock and snipe.
The town of Athenry is an open-air museum. Glimpse of a glorious yet troubled past – may be caught through the slit windows of the Norman Castle or re-echoes of sacred chant imagined in the nave and cloister of the roofless Dominican Priory. The fourteenth century town walls enclose all in a ribbon of stone.
For the natives the work-a-day is not at all unpleasant. Lively bars, a feverish spate of building and restoration and the demands of a large student population contribute to keeping the tempo upbeat. Athenry’s annual festival centered around ‘Lady Day’ (August 15th) is an unforgettable mixture of piety and pleasure. Native sons and daughters return from abroad for the event. Mass is offered at the Holy Well, prayers are said, an ancient pilgrimage is completed. There fellows an effortless transition to medieval pageantry, jousting, street theatre and revelry.
Many have come to watch and have remained to live, such is the welcoming ambiance of the place. This is a place for all seasons where life may be lived out at a leisurely pace and where ambitions, however off beat, may be realised.
Described by life-long Athenry resident, Martin T. Kelly