Theme Week County Galway – Athenry

Wednesday, 23 March 2022 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General
Reading Time:  6 minutes

15th-century market cross © Andreas F. Borchert/cc-by-sa-4.0

15th-century market cross © Andreas F. Borchert/cc-by-sa-4.0

Athenry (Irish: Baile Átha an Rí, meaning ‘Town of the Ford of the King’) is a town in County Galway, Ireland, which lies 25 kilometres (16 mi) east of Galway city. Some of the attractions of the medieval town are its town wall, Athenry Castle, its priory and its 13th century Anglo-Norman street-plan. The town is also well known by virtue of the song “The Fields of Athenry“.

Athenry’s name derives from the ford (‘Áth’) crossing the river Clarin just east of the settlement. Though other inaccurate explanations are still given, it was called ‘Áth na Ríogh’ (‘Ford of the Kings’) because it was the home area of the Cenél nDéigill, kings of the Soghain, whose leading lineage were the Ó Mainnín. On some medieval maps of English origin the town is called Kingstown.

Originally, Soghain was surrounded by Uí Maine to the east, Aidhne to the south, and Maigh Seola to the west. However, after 1135, and by 1152, Tairrdelbach Ua Conchobair forcibly incorporated it into the newly created trícha cét of Clann Taidg, ruled by lords such as Fearghal Ó Taidg an Teaghlaigh, who expelled the Ó Mainnín family. In the 1230s the Ó Taidg an Teaghlaigh family were in turn displaced by Meyler de Bermingham.

The earliest remaining building in the town is Athenry Castle which was built sometime before 1240 by Meyler de Bermingham. In 1241, the Dominican Priory was founded, and became an important center for learning and teaching. It was ostensibly closed during the Protestant Reformation but survived until being desecrated and burned during the Mac an Iarla wars of the 1560s–80s, and was finally vandalised by Cromwellians in the 1650s. The medieval walls around Athenry are among the most complete and best preserved in Ireland with 70% of original circuit still standing, along with some of the original towers and the original North gate. The remains of the Lorro Gate were partially unearthed in 2007 during the redevelopment of road works in the area.

Athenry Castle © Ingo Mehling/cc-by-sa-3.0 Town centre © geograph.org.uk - Graham Horn/cc-by-sa-2.0 15th-century market cross © Andreas F. Borchert/cc-by-sa-4.0 Athenry Dominican Priory © Andreas F. Borchert/cc-by-sa-4.0 North gate © Andreas F. Borchert/cc-by-sa-4.0 River Clareen © Andreas F. Borchert/cc-by-sa-4.0 St Mary's Parish Church © Andreas F. Borchert/cc-by-sa-4.0
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15th-century market cross © Andreas F. Borchert/cc-by-sa-4.0
In the centre of the town is the ‘square’; markets were held from the 17th century onwards and where the town’s late 15th century ‘Market Cross‘ is still located. The monument which is of Tabernacle or Lantern type is the only one of its kind in Ireland and the only medieval cross still standing in situ in the country. A Heritage centre now occupies the remains of the mid-13th century St Mary’s Collegiate Church adjacent to the town Square. The original medieval church is largely destroyed but in 1828 a Church of Ireland church was built into its chancel.

In 1791, Jean Antoine Coquebert de Montbret visited the town, which he described as:

It covers 50 acres but has not more than 60 houses. […] There is an abbey of which the ruins are almost all standing. There is a big uninhabited castle called Bermingham’s Court […]. In the middle of Athenry is the stump of a cross destroyed in the wars, on which a crucifix in bas-relief still remains. […] I noticed at the door of a tavern a large cake decorated with a bouquet. It was a prize for the best dancer. […] The road from Athenry is very beautiful and there are no barriers.
Jean Antoine Coquebert de Montbret

Moyode Castle is another tall 16th-century fortified tower house of the Dolphin family, which went to the Persse family. The castle is now restored and inhabited and is located 3.5 miles (5.6 km) from the town of Athenry. In 1863, a late Bronze Age shield was found in the vicinity of Athenry, and is now held in the British Museum‘s collection.

See also: Battle of Maigh Mucruimhe, Baron Athenry, First Battle of Athenry, Second Battle of Athenry, The Sack of Athenry and The Fields of Athenry.

Here you can find the complete Overview of all Theme Weeks.

Read more on GalwayTourism.ie – Athenry, Athenry Heritage Centre, The Fields of Athenry, Wikivoyage Athenry and Wikipedia Athenry. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com - Global Passport Power Rank - Travel Risk Map - Democracy Index - GDP according to IMF, UN, and World Bank - Global Competitiveness Report - Corruption Perceptions Index - Press Freedom Index - World Justice Project - Rule of Law Index - UN Human Development Index - Global Peace Index - Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Index). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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