Through travelling Ireland and seeking out museums, exhibitions and events with our 5 children, we have instilled in them a love of Irish history and heritage. My older three children Orla, Aoife (9) and Seamus (7) had been learning about Ancient Ireland’s Fortifications in class so our Tullamore trip was an ideal opportunity to bring them to Athlone Castle.
From Tullamore it was a 35 minute drive to Athlone but we stopped off along the way when we saw a playground. I find it helps to break up road trips with young children if you let them keep an eye out for playgrounds you can stop at along the way. We have rules though, if we’re on the way somewhere we only stay as long as it takes for them all to get a go on everything in the playground then it’s a run back to the van to set off again.
|Little ones enthralled in Athlone Castle|
We moved on into the other exhibition spaces learning as we went that Athlone Castle was built in 1210 to defend the crossing point of the River Shannon. The next room was full of our favourite kind of history “hands on”. They got to play interactive games, use the touch screen displays, build a 3D model of the Castle, practice using a bow and arrow and even dress up in period costume for a photo or two.
|All smiles building his very own Athlone Castle|
My favourite exhibitions were the 360° cinema depicting the 1691 siege of Athlone and the life size Jacobite and Williamite soldiers clothed in recycled materials, a quirky twist that makes for a spectacular display.
Admission: Adults €8, Senior/Student €6, Children under 15 €4, Children under 4 free and discounted family tickets €20 & €25. On your admission tickets you will find special offers such as half price admission to Belvedere House and 25% off an Irish coffee at Sean’s Bar among others.
Admission is free, guided tours are also available free of charge but they must be booked in advance.
|Cillian refueling, while the big ones plan our next move (he's his Aunty Sue's protege)|
The smell of the open turf fire envelops you and brought me right back to my childhood days of holidays in Connemara. As we were having a drink a couple in the corner were chatting, I recognised them as we’d seen them in both Athlone Castle and Luan Gallery. The gent approached our table as he was going to the bar. I was nicely surprised when he complimented me on giving my children a wonderful childhood and filling it with memories like these.
|Aoife warming her cockles in Seán's Bar before moving on - she didn't lick it off a ston... |
Did you know you can take a cruise on a replica Viking longship down the Shannon to Lough Ree? I didn’t! It’s a 75 minute cruise costing €35 for a family, departing from the quayside at Athlone Castle. Unfortunately it was raining while we were there so we’ll be returning during the school holidays.
Have you been to Athlone? What did we miss?
*Disclaimer: I had paid into Athlone Castle but was very generously refunded our admission fee when we were leaving as I had been tweeting about our experience, while we were there. I also received a pair of adult tickets for a return visit which I gave away via a Twitter competition. @msmum was our lucky winner & the tickets have been posted to her.