In September 2020, conservation works were carried out on a section of medieval town walls in Athlone, Co. Westmeath. Every step of the conservation process was captured in a behind-the-scenes video which the Heritage Council have just released. Comprising of beautiful shots of Athlone and insider knowledge, this video is a must-see for anyone interested in the conservation process.
History of the Walls
The construction of Athlone’s town defences began in the 13th century. Theses defences were reinforced over time, in particular during the Tudor and Stuart reigns of the 16th and 17th centuries. Additional gates, towers and ramparts were added to the walls to protect the town from attack.
Athlone found itself at the centre of an international conflict in the late 17th century during the Williamite War. The largest bombardment in Irish history was recorded in 1691 in Athlone, when Williamite forces fired over 12,000 cannonballs and 600 bombs on the Jacobite soldiers in Athlone Castle.
The walls of Athlone deteriorated during the 19th and 20th centuries and only a few sections of the town walls are still standing today.
Conserving Athlone Town Walls Video
This video features specialists who were tasked with conserving the stretch of medieval wall at Court Devenish / Railway View in Athlone. Arborist Seamus Culbert (Culbert and Cons Tree Care) discusses the careful removal of an invasive sycamore tree. Stonemason John Lonergan (Revamp Conservation) and conservation engineer Kevin Clancy (PUNCH Consulting Engineering) speak about the tools and methods used to preserve medieval masonry walls and the importance of ongoing maintenance. Westmeath County Council Heritage Officer; Melanie McQuade, discussed the history of the town walls and the process of conservation. Ian Doyle (Head of Conservation for the Heritage Council) and Róisín Burke (project manager, IWTN) also discuss the importance of this project.
Find Out More:
To discover more about the story of Athlone, why not take a stroll through the streets of the town to discover the remaining sections of the medieval defences and make sure to visit Athlone Castle Visitor Centre. The story of the Castle is told through exhibitions, artefacts and a 360 degree cinematic experience of the Great Siege of Athlone.
The Heritage Council through the IWTN, with support from Westmeath County Council funded the video production and the conservation works were funded through the IWTN capital works grants programme 2020.