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Often called ‘the central point of Ireland’, Athlone is a thriving town resting on the banks of the River Shannon and surrounded by gentle countryside.
An ancient Norman castle, situated on the west bank of the river, has been the town's main point of defence since the 13th century. It is now also the major tourist attraction, well-equipped with a museum, tourist office, tea rooms and art gallery. At the Lockes Distillery Museum one can take an interesting look at the history of distilling in the area, as well as guided tours of age-old whisky making traditions. An excellent afternoon excursion is to Clonmacnoise, a monastery dating back almost 1500 years, with its audio-visual centre and restaurant. For those wishing to venture further, Dublin and its National Museum lie only 126kms away. Galway, Ennis, the Cliffs of Moher and Limerick City are all situated within a few hour’s drive away.
The River Shannon and the surrounding lakes provide excellent opportunities for fishing, water sports and summer river cruises. The town itself offers tennis courts, a swimming pool, hunting and horse riding. It has an excellent array of shops selling fashion, celtic crafts, knitwear, antiques and more. Most of these are located in the central area and in two easily accessible shopping centres on the east side of town. Athlone has built up a reputation for fabulous food, catering to all kinds of tastes. Restaurants can be found in the town centre, various country establishments and the Lough Ree lakeshore.
Athlone can be easily reached from all four major airports in Ireland: Dublin, Belfast, Cork and Shannon, and from ferry ports Rosslare, Dublin and Dun Laoghaire. Ferry routes connect Ireland with Britain and France. Train services run frequently to and from Dublin, Galway and Ballina and a comprehensive bus network, Bus Eirean, connects Athlone locally and nationally.