The Athlone Castle Visitors Centre is a major tourist destination in the centrally located town of Athlone. It incorporates both the splendidly maintained medieval keep and the Luan Art Gallery; just a short walk across the Shannon.
The castle dominates the town of Athlone and has done so for the best part of a millennium. Originally a wooden fortress built in 1129 by King Tairrdelback Ua Conchobair of Connaught, the castle defended the militarily important crossing point over the river.
The present stone structure dates from the time of King John (1210), the castle was later reconstructed by Sir William Brabazon (Lord Justice of Ireland) in 1547 and hosted major military garrisons for both the Norman and English invasions of Ireland.
The castle played a pivotal role in the famous siege of Athlone during the Williamite war of 1690-1691 and the interpretive centre hosts an impressive visual experience of this seminal event in Irish history. Recent renovations have created eight separate exhibition spaces each focusing on a particular period of Irish history.