Athenry is a town in County Galway
County Galway
County Galway is a county in Ireland. It is located in the West Region and is also part of the province of Connacht. It is named after the city of Galway. Galway County Council is the local authority for the county. There are several strongly Irish-speaking areas in the west of the county...

, Ireland
Republic of Ireland
Ireland , described as the Republic of Ireland , is a sovereign state in Europe occupying approximately five-sixths of the island of the same name. Its capital is Dublin. Ireland, which had a population of 4.58 million in 2011, is a constitutional republic governed as a parliamentary democracy,...

. It lies 25 kilometres (15.5 mi) east of Galway
Galway or City of Galway is a city in County Galway, Republic of Ireland. It is the sixth largest and the fastest-growing city in Ireland. It is also the third largest city within the Republic and the only city in the Province of Connacht. Located on the west coast of Ireland, it sits on the...

 city, and one of the attractions of the town is its medieval castle
A castle is a type of fortified structure built in Europe and the Middle East during the Middle Ages by European nobility. Scholars debate the scope of the word castle, but usually consider it to be the private fortified residence of a lord or noble...

. The town is also well-known by virtue of the song "The Fields of Athenry
The Fields of Athenry
"The Fields of Athenry" is an Irish folk ballad set during the Great Irish Famine about a fictional man named Michael from near Athenry in County Galway who has been sentenced to transportation to Botany Bay, Australia, for stealing food for his starving family...



Its name derives from the ford ('Áth') crossing the river Clarin just east of the settlement. Because three kingdoms met at that point, it was called 'Áth na Ríogh', or 'the Ford of the Kings'. On some medieval maps of English origin the town is called Kingstown. The kingdoms were Hy-Many
Uí Maine, often incorrectly Anglicised as Hy Many, was one of the oldest and largest kingdoms located in Connacht, Ireland. Its territory of approximately encompassed all of what is now north, east and south County Galway, south and central County Roscommon, an area near County Clare, and at one...

 to the north-east, east and south-east; Aidhne
Aidhne also known as, Uí Fhiachrach Aidhne, Maigh Aidhne / Maigh nAidhne was the territory of the Ui Fiachrach Aidhne, a tuath located in the south of what is now County Galway in the south of Connacht, Ireland. Aidhne is coextensive with the present diocese of Kilmacduagh...

 to the south and south-west; Maigh Seola
Maigh Seola
Maigh Seola was a term used to describe the land along the east shore of Lough Corrib in County Galway, Ireland. It was bounded by the Uí Maine vassal kingdom of Soghain. Its rulers up to the 1220s were the Muintir Murchada, who took the surname O'Flaherty...

 to the west and north-west. Up to around 1000 it was included in Uí Briúin
Uí Briúin
The Uí Briúin were an Irish kin-group. Their eponymous apical ancestor was Brion, son of Eochaid Mugmedon and Mongfind, and an elder half brother of Niall of the Nine Hostages. They formed part of the Connachta, along with the Uí Fiachrach and Uí Ailello, putative descendants of Eochaid Mugmedon's...

 Seóla. In the mid-11th century it was part of the trícha cét
Trícha cét
A Trícha cét or triocha cét was a a territorial unit ... to the eleventh and twelfth centuries [1] in medieval Ireland. It was succeeded by the cantred.Paul MacCotter describes it as:...

 of Clann Taidg
Clann Taidg
Clann Taidg was the name of a medieval cantred located in what is now County Galway, Ireland.It consisted of the parishes of Athenry, Monivea, Tiaquin, Kilkerrin, Moylough, Killererin, Ballynakill-Aghiart, Kilmoylan, and possibly Abbeyknockmoy....


The earliest remaining building in the town is Athenry Castle which was built sometime before 1240 by Meyler de Bermingham
Meyler de Bermingham
-Ancestry:Meyler was a great-grandson of Robert de Bermingham who is said to have obtained a grant of Offaly from Strongbow or Henry II about 1172. Robert's son and grandson were both described as of Tethmoy, which is thought to have been the baronies of Warrenstown and part of Coolestown...

. In 1241, the Dominican
Dominican Order
The Order of Preachers , after the 15th century more commonly known as the Dominican Order or Dominicans, is a Catholic religious order founded by Saint Dominic and approved by Pope Honorius III on 22 December 1216 in France...

 Abbey was founded, a major institution. It was ostensibly closed during the Protestant Reformation
Protestant Reformation
The Protestant Reformation was a 16th-century split within Western Christianity initiated by Martin Luther, John Calvin and other early Protestants. The efforts of the self-described "reformers", who objected to the doctrines, rituals and ecclesiastical structure of the Roman Catholic Church, led...

 but survived until being desecrated and burned during the Mac an Iarla Wars of the 1570s, and was finally vandalised by Cromwellians in the 1650s. The Medieval walls around Athenry are among the most complete and best preserved in Ireland and still retain a number of the original towers as well as the original North gate. The remains of the Lorro Gate were partially unearthed in 2007 during redevelopment road works in the area. In the centre of the town is the square; it is here that Athenry's late 15th century Market Cross
Market cross
A market cross is a structure used to mark a market square in market towns, originally from the distinctive tradition in Early Medieval Insular art of free-standing stone standing or high crosses, often elaborately carved, which goes back to the 7th century. Market crosses can be found in most...

 is located. The monument which is of Tabernacle
The Tabernacle , according to the Hebrew Torah/Old Testament, was the portable dwelling place for the divine presence from the time of the Exodus from Egypt through the conquering of the land of Canaan. Built to specifications revealed by God to Moses at Mount Sinai, it accompanied the Israelites...

 or Lantern
A lantern is a portable lighting device or mounted light fixture used to illuminate broad areas. Lanterns may also be used for signaling, as 'torches', or as general light sources outdoors . Low light level varieties are used for decoration. The term "lantern" is also used more generically to...

 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
Collegiate church
In Christianity, a collegiate church is a church where the daily office of worship is maintained by a college of canons; a non-monastic, or "secular" community of clergy, organised as a self-governing corporate body, which may be presided over by a dean or provost...

 immediately North of the Square. The original church is largely destroyed but in 1828 a Church of Ireland
Church of Ireland
The Church of Ireland is an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion. The church operates in all parts of Ireland and is the second largest religious body on the island after the Roman Catholic Church...

 church was built into its chancel.

In 1791, Caquebert de Montbret visited the town, which he described as:
[covering] 50 acres but has no 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
A crucifix is an independent image of Jesus on the cross with a representation of Jesus' body, referred to in English as the corpus , as distinct from a cross with no body....

 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 (turnpikes)

Moyode Castle is another tall 16th-century fortified tower house
Tower house
A tower house is a particular type of stone structure, built for defensive purposes as well as habitation.-History:Tower houses began to appear in the Middle Ages, especially in mountain or limited access areas, in order to command and defend strategic points with reduced forces...

 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.


Athenry is served by the newly-constructed M6 Motorway
M6 motorway (Ireland)
The M6 motorway is a motorway in Ireland, which runs from Dublin to Galway. The M6 extends from its junction with the M4 at Kinnegad all the way west to the outskirts of Galway City, but the Athlone bypass and the approach to Galway city - while of dual carriageway standard - have not been...

 which links Galway city to Dublin. Athenry railway station
Athenry railway station
Athenry railway station, on the Dublin-Galway line, serves the town of Athenry in County Galway. It also serves trains passing to Limerick in the south. It once served Tuam & Claremorris in the north, this service may be resumed, see Western Rail Corridor....

 opened on 1 August 1851 and lies on the Galway–Dublin main line of the Irish rail network
Rail transport in Ireland
Rail services in Ireland are provided by Iarnród Éireann in the Republic of Ireland and by Northern Ireland Railways in Northern Ireland.Most routes in the Republic radiate from Dublin...

. The town is at the junction
Junction (rail)
A junction, in the context of rail transport, is a place at which two or more rail routes converge or diverge.This implies a physical connection between the tracks of the two routes , 'points' and or two tracks each meet at a junction, a fairly simple layout of tracks suffices to...

 the Galway–Dublin line, and the partially complete Limerick–Sligo
Sligo is the county town of County Sligo in Ireland. The town is a borough and has a charter and a town mayor. It is sometimes referred to as a city, and sometimes as a town, and is the second largest urban area in Connacht...

 line (dubbed the Western Railway Corridor
Western Railway Corridor
The Western Railway Corridor , or Conair Iarnróid an Iarthair , in Ireland is a recent term for a mostly disused railway line running through the West of Ireland...

). Work ('West on Track') is underway to re-open further links, with the Ennis
Ennis is the county town of Clare in Ireland. Situated on the River Fergus, it lies north of Limerick and south of Galway. Its name is a shortening of the original ....

-Athenry section open since March 2010, and the Athenry-Tuam
Tuam is a town in County Galway, Ireland. The name is pronounced choo-um . It is situated west of the midlands of Ireland, and north of Galway city.-History:...

 section due in 2011.


Athenry is home to St. Mary's G.A.A.
Athenry GAA
St. Mary's, Athenry is a Gaelic Athletic Association club located in the town of Athenry in County Galway. The club is almost exclusively concerned with hurling.-History:...

 club who have won numerous All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship
All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship
The All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship is an annual hurling tournament played between hundreds of senior hurling clubs in Ireland. The Tommy Moore Cup is awarded to the winners. The current champions are Clarinbridge...


Athenry Athletics Club has had a large juvenile section for many years and was complemented in 2002 by a senior section. The senior section now has over 100 members, approximately half of whom are women. The club has produced two Olympic sprinters, Martina MacCarthy, who is from Oranmore and Paul Hession
Paul Hession
Paul Hession is an Irish international track and field athlete who specialises in the sprinting events, particularly the 200 metres...

 who hails from Ballydavid, just outside the town itself. Martina represented Ireland in the women's 4 x 400 metres relay at the Sydney
Sydney is the most populous city in Australia and the state capital of New South Wales. Sydney is located on Australia's south-east coast of the Tasman Sea. As of June 2010, the greater metropolitan area had an approximate population of 4.6 million people...

 games and Paul competed in the 200 metres at the Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

 games. A number of other club members have represented their country with distinction in both track and field and cross country across Europe and North America.

Athenry also home to Athenry Soccer Club
Athenry F.C.
Athenry F.C. is an Irish association football club from Athenry, which was founded in 1971. The club's most senior team competes in the Galway & District League Premier League...

 which reached the 2006 final of the FAI
Football Association of Ireland
The Football Association of Ireland is the governing body for the sport of association football in the Republic of Ireland. It should not to be confused with the Irish Football Association , which is the organising body for the sport in Northern Ireland.For the full history, statistics and records...

 Junior Cup. In 2007 Athenry Soccer Club became the Galway Premier League Champions for the first time in the clubs 36 year history. The club has followed this by winning the Galway Premier Title again in 2008 & 2010. In 2007,2008,2010 & 2011 Athenry Soccer Club also captured the Connaught Junior Cup title.

Athenry Golf Club is an eighteen hole championship course located between Athenry and Oranmore
Oranmore is a village in County Galway on the outskirts of Galway city in Ireland. With its major housing developments, Oranmore is rapidly becoming a part of Galway's commuter or suburban belt...

 in the townland of Palmerstown. The club is a mixture of parkland and heathland built on a limestone base against the backdrop of a large forest giving excellent drainage, which makes the course playable all year round. Athenry Golf course was extended to 18 holes in 1991 under the guidance of architect Eddie Hackett
Eddie Hackett
Eddie Hackett was an Irish golf course architect.Eddie Hackett was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1910. As a boy he suffered from tuberculosis, the effects of which left him without the strength or stamina to play active sports. He began playing golf with his father, and as a teenager got a job at his...

 and further improvements in recent years have led to the club hosting recent Provincial and National championships.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Athenry is twinned
Town twinning
Twin towns and sister cities are two of many terms used to describe the cooperative agreements between towns, cities, and even counties in geographically and politically distinct areas to promote cultural and commercial ties.- Terminology :...

 with the town of Quimperlé
Quimperlé is a commune in the Finistère department of Brittany in northwestern France.-Geography:Quimperlé is in the southeast of Finistère, 20 km to the sest of Lorient and 44 km to the east of Quimper...

 in Brittany
Brittany is a cultural and administrative region in the north-west of France. Previously a kingdom and then a duchy, Brittany was united to the Kingdom of France in 1532 as a province. Brittany has also been referred to as Less, Lesser or Little Britain...



The following is a list of notable natives of Athenry and its immediate environs:
The "Stations of the Cross" in Kiltullagh Church were painted by the artist Evie Hone
Evie Hone
Evie Hone was a Dublin born Irish painter and stained glass artist.She was related to Nathaniel Hone and Nathaniel Hone the Younger. Her most important works are probably the East Window for the Chapel at Eton College, Windsor and My Four Green Fields, now located in Government Buildings...


Annalistic references

From the Annals of the Four Masters
Annals of the Four Masters
The Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland or the Annals of the Four Masters are a chronicle of medieval Irish history...

  • 1249. The defeat of Ath-na-righ was inflicted on Toirrdelbach Ua Conchobuir, whereby Aedh, son of Aedh, was killed therein and Brian of the Doire and a great many of the nobles of Connacht were killed.

  • 1266. A bishop-elect came from Rome to Clonfert-Brendan, and the dignity of bishop was conferred on him, and on Thomas O'Meehan, at Athenry, on the Sunday before Christmas.

  • 1316 - Second Battle of Athenry
    Second Battle of Athenry
    The Second Battle of Athenry took place at Athenry in Ireland on 10 August 1316 during the Bruce campaign in Ireland.-Overview:The collective number of both armies are unknown, and can only be estimated. Martyn believes the royal army to have been as much as or more than a thousand, while that of...


  • 1504: In the aftermath of the Battle of Knockdoe
    Battle of Knockdoe
    The Battle of Knockdoe was a conflict between the Hiberno-Norman de Burghs and Anglo-Norman Fitzgeralds, along with their respective Irish allies. On the 19th of August 1504, the Parish of Lackagh was the site of what appears to have been an unusually bloody conflict, arising from a dispute...

    , the Earl of Kildare  afterwards went to Athenry, and obtained possession of the town.

  • 1544: The Earl of Ormond went into Clanrickard to assist his kinsman, William Burke, son of Rickard; but the sons of Rickard Oge suddenly defeated him; and a good baron of his people, namely, Mac Oda, was slain; and more than forty of the Earl's troops were slain in the gateway of Athenry on that occasion.

  • 1597: O'Donnell (Hugh Roe, the son of Hugh, son of Manus) ... Having reached the very centre of Hy-Many, he sent forth swift-moving marauding parties through the district of Caladh, and the upper part of the territory; and they carried off many herds of cows and other preys to O'Donnell, to the town of Athenry; and though the warders of the town attempted to defend it, the effort was of no avail to them, for O'Donnell's people applied fires and flames to the strongly-closed gates of the town, and carried to them great ladders, and, placing them against the walls, they recte, some of them ascended to the parapets of the wall. They then leaped from the parapets, and gained the streets of the town, and opened the gates for those who were outside. They all then proceeded to demolish the storehouses and the strong habitations; and they carried away all the goods and valuables that were in them. They remained that night in the town. It was not easy to enumerate or reckon the quantities of copper, iron, clothes, and habiliments, which they carried away from the town on the following day. From the same town he sent forth marauding parties to plunder Clanrickard, on both sides of the river; and these marauders totally plundered and ravaged the tract of country from Leathrath to Magh-Seanchomhladh. The remaining part of his army burned and ravaged the territory, from the town of Athenry and Rath-Goirrgin Westwards to Rinn-Mil and Meadhraige, and to the gates of Galway, and burned Teagh-Brighde, at the military gate of Galway. O'Donnell pitched his camp for that night between Uaran-mor and Galway, precisely at Cloch-an-Lingsigh.

See also

  • Battle of Maigh Mucruimhe
    Battle of Maigh Mucruimhe
    The Cath Maige Mucrama , is an early Middle Irish language tale which forms part of the Cycles of the Kings.-Content:...

  • Baron Athenry
    Baron Athenry
    The title of Baron Athenry is one of the oldest titles in the Peerage of Ireland, but the date of its creation is thoroughly uncertain; each of the first four Berminghams listed below is claimed by some writers to be Lord Athenry, but the evidence is disputed...

  • First Battle of Athenry
    First Battle of Athenry
    The First Battle of Athenry was fought on the August 15, 1249 at Athenry, Galway, Ireland. Athenry had existed as a minor settlement prior to its foundation as a town by the de Bermingham family in 1241, and was thus still little more than a military base in hostile territory.The victor of the day...

  • Second Battle of Athenry
    Second Battle of Athenry
    The Second Battle of Athenry took place at Athenry in Ireland on 10 August 1316 during the Bruce campaign in Ireland.-Overview:The collective number of both armies are unknown, and can only be estimated. Martyn believes the royal army to have been as much as or more than a thousand, while that of...

  • The Sack of Athenry
  • List of abbeys and priories in Ireland (County Galway)
  • List of towns and villages in Ireland

Further reading

External links

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