Infobox Irish Place
name = Athlone
gaeilge = Baile Átha Luain
pin coords =
north coord = 53.4333
west coord = 7.9500
irish grid = N033420
elevation = 56 m
County Westmeath& County Roscommon
dailconstituency = Westmeath
EU constituency = East
stdcode = 090, +353 90
town pop = 17,544 [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_towns_in_the_Republic_of_Ireland_by_population]
census yr = 2006
web = www.athlone.ie
Athlone (lga|Baile Átha Luain|Town of the Ford of Luan) [P.W. Joyce, [http://www.booksulster.com/library/plnm/placenamesA.php] . Local historians describe it as "The Ford of the Moon"] is a town that lies on the
River Shannonnear the southern extremity of Lough Ree, Ireland.
Athlone is located close to the geographical centre of Ireland, on the border of two counties, Roscommon and
Westmeath, which are located in the provinces of Connachtand Leinsterrespectively. Although the River Shannon, which runs through the town, forms the historic border between County Roscommon and County Westmeath, the Local Government Act of 1898 designated most of the town as belonging to Westmeath, including areas west of the river. Much recent growth has occured outside the official town boundaries. Monksland for example, a suburb on the west side of the town, is not within the official town boundaries, yet is the most populous area of County Roscommon.
Athlone is the largest town in central Ireland; the 2006 Census having placed the population of the town and its environs at 17,544. This rises to approximately 35,000 within a 3 mile radius of the town. The town has also been described as "the commercial capital of the
Irish midlands" cite web | url = http://www.idaireland.com/home/index.aspx?id=226 | title = Location Profile - Athlone | accessdate = 2008=09-30 | publisher = IDA Ireland] The town is governed by an elected town councilwhich elects a Mayor.
At the heart of Athlone, both
geographicallyand historically, is the castle. The ford of Athlone was strategically important, as south of Athlone the Shannon is impassable until Clonmacnoise(where the Esker Riadameets the Shannon), and north is Lough Ree. In 1001 Brian Bóru led his army from Kincora into the town, his fleet sailing up the river via Lough Dergto attend a gathering.
A bridge was built across the river in the
12th century, approximately 100 metres south of the current bridge. To protect this a fortwas constructed on the west bank in the town by Turloch Mór Ó Conor. On a number of occasions both the fort and bridge were subject to attacks, and towards the end of the 12th centurythe Anglo-Normansconstructed a motte-and-baileyfortification here. This was superseded by a stone structure built in 1210 by Justiciar John Gray. The 12-sided donjondates from this time. The rest of the castle was largely destroyed during the Siege of Athloneand subsequently rebuilt and enlarged.
During the wars that racked Ireland in the
seventeenth century, Athlone held a vital position, holding the main bridge over the River Shannon into Connacht. In the Irish Confederate Wars(1641–1653), the town was held by Irish Confederate troops until it was taken late in 1650 by Charles Coote, who attacked the town from the west, having crossed into Connacht at Sligo.
Forty years later, during the
Williamite war in Ireland, the town was again of central strategic importance, being one of the Jacobite strongholds on the defending their position after they had retreated west after the battle of the Boyne. At the first battle of Athlone in 1690 the Jacobite forces of Colonel Richard Grace repelled an attack by 10,000 men lead by Commander Douglas. The following year the Siege of Athlonesaw a further assault in which the troops of King William III eventually prevailed against the outnumbered defenders.
It was proposed in the
Éire Nuaprogramme to make Athlone the capital cityof Ireland.
Music, theatre and culture
There are three
theatresin Athlone, [http://www.deancrowetheatre.com The Dean Crowe Theatre and Arts Centre] , [http://www.athlonelittletheatre.ie The Little Theatre] , and Passionfruit TheatreCompany [http://www.passionfruittheatre.com] The RTÉ[http://www.dramafestival.ie All-Ireland Drama Festival] takes place annually in Athlone, and brings together 9 amateur drama groups from across Ireland. The festival is supported by an active fringe which involves street theatre, art exhibitions, workshops and events for young people. Home to the famous "Skinsize Kings" Count John McCormackwas born in Athlone and an annual festival celebrates this world-renowned tenor.
Athlone School of Musicopened in October 2005, and is a grant aidedproject aimed at developing music education and services in the Midlands region.
Given its central location, Athlone is a natural hub for transport, with frequent bus and rail schedules.
Athlone railway station, which opened on 3 October 1859, [cite web | title=Athlone station | work=Railscot - Irish Railways | url=http://www.railscot.co.uk/Ireland/Irish_railways.pdf | accessdate=2007-09-07] services the main Galwayto Dublinand Dublin to Westport/Ballina lines. Bus Eireann, the national bus operator, operates from beside the train station and covers most towns and cities in the country, including an hourly service to Dublin and Galway. Other private operators also provide services to some towns and cities. Bus Éireann also operates a local Athlone bus service. The town is also home to a number of privately operated services, including the Flagline bus company. Taxi service is widely available throughout the area.
The town is situated on the N6 road connecting Galway to Dublin with various smaller roads connecting from other areas. The new M6 motorway now connects the town directly to Dublin, cutting traveling and commuting time considerably.
Tourism and amenities
River Shannonruns through Athlone and the town is a popular spot for people passing through on pleasure craft, many of whom stop off at the Marinas. Lough Ree, the largest lake on the Shannon, is a short distance upstreamfrom Athlone to the North of the town, and is popular among anglers, birdwatchers, and swimmers. The lake shore is easily accessed from Coosan Point, and Hodson Bay. The town is also home to Lough Ree Yacht Club, whose clubhouse is located on the promenade. The promenade is also a popular spot for anglers.
Athlone is the main
retailcentre in the Midlands, and "Golden Island Shopping Centre" attracts shoppers from a wide radius. There was also the smaller "Texas Shopping Centre" (formerly known as "Athlone Shopping Centre", prior to being acquired by the "Texas" department storechain). Another large scale development opened on November 1st, 2007. "Athlone Town Centre" comprises two internal streets, with 54 shops and a hotel, and is the largest shopping and leisure centre in Ireland, outside Dublin. Athlone Regional Sports Centreis a facility (established May 2002) developed by the Town Council. Seans Bar, located on the west bank of the river, is listed by the Guinness Book of World Recordsas the oldest pub in the British and Irish Isles.
Other popular attractions for visitors are the Glendeer Open Farm and the Viking Cruise of the Shannon. The town's tourist office is located at Athlone Castle, in the town centre.
Education & industry
Athlone's major employers include companies such as
Élan(pharmaceuticals), which originated in Athlone, Bioclin Laboratories (pharmaceuticals), Ericsson(telecommunications), Tyco Healthcare(medical equipment), Alcatel(cables), Utah Medical (medical equipment), Pharmaplaz (pharmaceuticals), Alienware(computer hardware), (ICT Eurotel (contact centre), and Athlone Extrusions ( polymers).
Athlone is the regional centre for a large number of state and semi-state organisations. The Department of Education & Science, The
State Examinations Commission, Revenue Commissioners, FÁSMidlands Region, Bus Éireann, Iarnród Éireann, IDA Ireland, and Enterprise Irelandall have bases in the town. Athlone is also a major militarycentre, Custume Barracks on the West bank of the Shannon is the headquarters of the Western Command of the Irish Army. Athlone Institute of Technology(AIT) is the regional third level college. Athlone forms part of the ill fated Midlands Gateway, or triangle as it became known, along with Mullingarand Tullamore. Alongside Waterford's Institute of Technology, AIT harbours ambitions of attaining university status, as there is no institution providing university-level education in the Irish Midlands.
Between 1931 and 1975 the main
radio transmissioncentre for Irish radio was located at Moydrum, Athlone. The original call-signwas 2RN (a wordplay on the song "Come back to Erin"). It subsequently became known as "Radio Athlone" and could clearly be heard throughout Europe, and as far as Moscow. This changed as bandwidth allocations were accorded at the Treaty of Helsinki.
It operated at a power of 60 kW (further increased to 100 kW in the 1950s). Many old radio sets in Europe had the "Athlone" dial position marked near the end of their tuning scales.
In the late 1970s the station reopened on a new dial position of 612 kHz for "Radio 2" (later known as
Moydrum was also the location of Ireland's short lived Shortwave international radio service that was closed down in 1948 due to lack of money.
RTÉ's Midlands studios are located in Athlone, at St. Mary's Square. The local radio station is Midlands 103. Many also tune into Shannonside. [ [http://www.shannonside.ie/index.php Shannonside - Home ] ]
A new radio station i107fm is scheduled to open in 2007. This station will be geared to the 18-34 age group in the midlands and north-east.
And again in affirmation of Athlone's broadcasting roots yet another station is about to be launched on a nationwide basis, using the 612 kHz band, with a Christian emphasis.
As well as this the Athlone Community Taskforce and several members of Roscommon community radio station RosFM have begun broadcasting from the Athlone area under the banner of the [http://www.athlonecommunityradio.ie Athlone Community Radio] on 101.6fm. The first broadcast was the 15th of March 2008 and is set to run every Saturday and Sunday for the following 15 weeks until the end of the temporary license they received. [ [http://www.athloneadvertiser.com/index.php?aid=2938 Athlone Advertiser ] ] [ [http://www.bci.ie/licensing/radio/temporary_services_apps.html BCI: Licensing: Radio: Successful applicants for Temporary services ] ]
As well as having a [http://www.athlonesportscentre.ie Regional Sports Centre] , Athlone has a variety of sporting organisations:
* [http://www.athlonetriathlonclub.com/ Athlone Triathlon club ]
* [http://www.hodsonbaysailing.com Hodson Bay Sailing]
*Athlone Town Association Football Club [http://www.athlonetownfc.com/]
* [http://www.buccaneersrfc.com Buccaneers Rugby Club]
* [http://southerngaels.westmeath.gaa.ie/ Southern Gaels Hurling Club]
* [http://www.athlonegaa.com Athlone GAA Club]
* [http://www.Garrycastlegaa.com Garrycastle GAA Club]
* [http://athloneboatclub.googlepages.com/ Athlone Boat Club]
Lough Ree Yacht Club[http://www.lryc.ie]
* [http://www.athlone-basketball-club.com/ Athlone Basketball Club]
* [http://www.athlonecricketclub.ie Athlone Cricket Club]
* [http://www.triathlone.com/ Triathlone]
* [http://www.trifest.ie/ Athlone Trifest]
Recently announced was the decision that Athlone will host the European Triathlon Championships in 2010. This is expected to bring 5,000 athletes for the event. [ cite web|url=http://www.waterwaysireland.org/index.cfm/section/article/page/SuccessfulTriath| title=Athlone Announced as Location for European Triathlon Championships2010| accessdate= 2007-11-09| Publisher= Waterways Ireland| ]
tenor John McCormackwas born in Athlone in 1884at the Bawn.
T. P. O'Connor(1848 - 1929), journalist and Member of Parliament.
George Thomas Stokes(1843 - 1898), ecclesiastical historian.
*Lt. John Larkan RN [http://www.qm.qld.gov.au/features/pandora/story/07_story2.asp] of
HMS Pandora (1779)came from Athlone.
Athlone is twinned with
Chateaubriant, France. Student exchanges take place between Athlone and Chateaubriant on a regular basis. Student exchanges also take part between Athlone and the German towns of Ludwigshafen am Rheinand Mendenalthough they are not twinned.
History of Athlone
* List of towns in Ireland
* Market Houses in Ireland
Midland Railway Action Group
* [http://www.athlonelive.com/forum Athlone Discussion Forum] . Place for expats, visitors, locals and any anyone with a sense of humor to chat, ask questions and share news and history relating to Athlone.
* [http://www.athlone.ie Athlone.ie] - Information for both tourists and locals
* [http://www.ait.ie Athlone Institute of Technology]
* [http://www.athlonechamber.ie Athlone Chamber of Commerce]
* [http://www.athloneadvertiser.ie Athlone Advertiser] - local newspaper
* [http://www.athloneshopping.com AthloneShopping.com] - guide to shopping in Athlone
* [http://www.westmeathindependent.ie Westmeath Independent] - local newspaper
* [http://www.education.ie Department of Education & Science]
* [http://www.www.examinations.ie The State Examinations Commission]
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
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