The Ballad of Athlone
By Aubrey de Vere

Does any man dream that a Gael can fear?
Of a thousand deeds let him learn but one!
The Shannon swept onwards broad and clear,
Between the leaguers and broad Athlone.

‘Break down the bridge!’ – Six warriors rushed
Through the storm of shot and the storm of shell;
With late but certain victory flushed.
The grim Dutch gunners eyed them well.

They wrench’d at the planks ‘mid a hail of fire;
They fell in death, their work half done;
The bridge stood fast; and nigh and nigher
The foe swarmed darkly, densely on.

“Oh, who for Erin , will strike a stroke?
Who hurl yon planks where the waters roar?
Six warriors forth from their comrades broke,
And flung them upon that bridge once more.

Again at the rocking planks they dashed;
And four dropped dead, and two remained;
The huge beams groaned, and the arch down-crashed –
Two stalwart swimmers the margin gained.

St. Ruth in his stirrups stood up, and cried,
“I have seen no deed like that in France !”
With a toss of his head, Sarsfield replied,
“They had luck, the dogs!’Twas a merry chance!

O many a year, upon Shannon ‘s side,
They sang upon moor and they sang upon heath,
Of the twain that breasted that raging tide,
And the ten that shook bloody hands with Death!

History of Athlone

Athlone is one of Ireland’s most important centres of history and culture. Ireland’s largest inland waterway, the river Shannon, divides the town into two counties, Westmeath to the east, and Roscommon to the west, and into two provinces Leinster and Connacht.

Ireland's Hidden Heartland

Historically known as the gateway to the rugged and wild west of Ireland, Athlone’s place in Irish history is well documented. In 1120 the high king of Connacht, recognising the strategic importance of the town began the construction of the first bridges across the Shannon. In 1210 the Ruling Anglo Monarchy commissioned the construction of Athlone castle to guard the crossing which still stands today as one of Athlone’s major tourist attractions.

The Jacobite's and Williamites

Athlone was then designated with Dublin as the seat of English administration in Ireland. During the pan European wars of the 1690s, between the Jacobite’s and Williamites, Athlone was the scene of great battle and prolonged siege, encapsulated in poem and verse, by the great Irish poet Aubrey de Vere (1814-1902) Athlone was also the birthplace and home of world famous lyric tenor and performer John McCormack, Poet Oliver Goldsmith, and writer John Broderick.

Welcome to Athlone

Athlone is one of Irelands most historic and vibrant towns and affords guests easy access to Ireland’s cultural and historic sites, cruises on the river Shannon, tours of Clonmacnoise, fishing on Lough Ree, Athlone castle and Luan Gallery, country walking trails and golf at some of Ireland’s most prestigious golf courses.

Athlone is renowned for its diversity of restaurants, offering visitors fine dining cuisine from many countries and of course traditional Irish produce’, its many pubs, bars and nightclubs offer traditional Irish music and a wide variety of nightly entertainment. Ramble through this historic town and experience the craft shops and opportunities for shopping in the Lakelands premier town.

Sean's Bar, oldest pub in Ireland

Sean’s bar has a detailed and documented history right back to 900AD. During renovations in 1970, the walls of the bar were found to be made of “wattle and wicker” dating back to the ninth century. Old coins which were minted by various landlords for barter with their customers were also found . The walls and the coins are on display in the National Museum. One section remains on display in the pub.