About Athlone

The heart of Ireland Athlone is a large and bustling town located right in the centre of Ireland, on the banks of the majestic River Shannon. Its central location in the country means that it’s only 90 minutes from Dublin Airport, and within two hours of major cities such as Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Kilkenny.

A little History

A town steeped in culture and history, Athlone spans not only two counties – Westmeath and Roscommon – but two provinces – Leinster and Connaught. This placed the town historically at the crossroads of Irish life, an atmosphere it retains to this day with its lively blend of historical buildings, modern amenities and colourful character. Although a regional town with a population of 25,000, all amenities associated with a larger city are available in Athlone, including two large shopping centres with a mix of high-street shops, an eclectic variety of restaurants and cafés, a leisure centre with swimming pool and gymnasium, skate park, bowling alley and cinema, as well as theatres and an art gallery.

Popular Tourist Location

Athlone has developed as a major tourism point in Ireland, with the Shannon and nearby Lough Ree attracting thousands of visitors annually. In recent years, new greenways and walkways have greatly enhanced enjoyment of the town’s environs, while Athlone Castle and the Luan Gallery in the heart of the town take full advantage of the spectacular river views. Athlone town is surrounded by quaint villages and beautiful unspoiled woodland, bogland and farmland. The rich offering in Athlone and surrounding areas means a wide variety of cultural trips and fun activities are incorporated into all of Shannon Academy’s English programmes.

Naturally, there is an emphasis for our students on cultural activities such as Irish dancing, Celtic drawing, stained glass window design, Irish basket weaving and feadóg lessons. The feadóg is a traditional Irish musical instrument similar to the tin whistle, and all students get to take home their feadóg as a memory of Ireland.

Cultural Activities

Shannon Academy offers a range of cultural trips depending on the season. For summer groups, students enjoy a half-day tour on Wednesday afternoons to local attractions such as Belvedere House or Dún na Sí Heritage. On Saturdays, students go on a full-day tour further afield with excursions to sites of historical or cultural interest as well as shopping time in the cities. There are sports activities at least twice a week, including swimming in an indoor heated pool, uni-hockey, football, basketball, volleyball, rounders and more. Other fun activities include bowling, trips to the cinema, sports days, and a treasure hunt to get to know the local area.

Tourist Attractions

Every tour is fun, but each also has its own cultural and educational aspects. Students are prepared for their tour during the week by their teacher. The following is a sample list of cultural trips:

• Galway City

• Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare

• Bunratty Castle, Co. Clare

• Athenry Heritage Centre, Co. Galway

• Kilkenny City and Castle

• Dunmore Caves, Co. Kilkenny

• Dublin City – including Trinity College

• Walking tour of Dublin City

• Dublin Science Museum

• National History Museum Dublin

• Lough Key Forest Park, Co. Roscommon

• Clonmacnoise Monastic Ruins, Co. Offaly

• Belvedere House, Gardens and Park, Co. Westmeath

• Causey Farm, Co. Meath

• Locke’s Distillery, Co. Westmeath