The focal point of the town is its restored 13th century castle (10am-5:15pm Apr-Oct; adult/group & senior/child €3/€2/€1). The Great Hall of the castle represents the official and ceremonial reception room of the castle. It was the place where the lord received guests and presided over the manor court. It is also the home of the castle’s garderobe or toilet. Sadly, visitors are no longer allowed to use this facility!
From there, it’s only a short walk to the Athenry Heritage Centre (adult/senior/family €6/€5.50/€24). Set amongst the ruins of a 13th century church and graveyard, you can try your hand at archery, dress up as a knight or simply explore the past through its interactive displays. The centre is also the home of the town’s original mace and seal, the finest example of their kind in Ireland.
Right outside the main entrance to the heritage centre stands the remains of a 15th century market cross. During the middle ages each market town would have had a cross reminding the traders that God was watching. Today, this Lantern type cross is the only one of its kind left in its original position in Ireland. The tradition of having a market continues. Each Friday, local farmers and artisan food producers come to town to sell their wares.
Not far from the market square is the town’s largest monument. The extensive ruins of the 13th century Dominican Priory contains a collection of medieval grave slabs, some of which are seven centuries old. The Priory survived Henry VIII but met its end when Cromwell’s soldiers arrived in the 17th century. Just a small bit further on is the best view of the town wall. The section here stretches on for 500m and reaches an impressive height of 4.5m.
If you are searching for things to do in the evening there are some great pubs and restaurants in the town. However, if you want to get in a hurling or Gaelic football match, have a look at www.athenrygaa.ie to see what’s happening at the GAA grounds located on Old Church Street.