Athenry of "The Fields of Athenry" - the name is world-famous and yet many who appreciate the song, probably know little of the town which gave the song its name. Athenry town is situated 24km east of Galway City, and has a history which stretches back to Stone Age times. Due to its location, Athenry has played a very prominent role in Irish history, witnessing both the Norman and Cromwellian invasions, as well as many attacks by Irish armies.
The historic past of the town is visibly symbolised by Athenry Castle . Erected by Meiler de Bermingham, the castle consists of a three storey tower surrounded by an outer wall. The castle has undergone some recent renovations and contains an audio visual room as well as an exhibition. The castle was built due to the strategic importance of Athenry's location. Today this also remains significant as it is just 10 minutes from Galway airport and a short drive from Galway City whilst Knock and Shannon international airports are each just 75 minutes away. In addition its location on the main Dublin-Galway railway line facilitates easy access to the east coast. As a result, a stay in Athenry affords the tourist the ideal base to explore the splendour of Connemara and the Burren or to visit the neighbouring counties of Mayo and Roscommon. If you are planning an Ireland golf vacations there are several championship golf courses nearby to choose from along with numerous attractions and activities, top quality angling/fishing facilities, the world-famous Galway Races, the international oyster festivals at Clarinbridge and Galway, and the Galway Arts Festival.
As well as the castle, visitors should take a look at The Fields of Athenry Thatched Heritage Cottage. A recreated traditional Irish cottage, bringing to life a time when people gathered together in such homes. Friends and neighbours came to listen to a seanachai (story-teller) or to the music from a travelling fiddler or piper. Tea and scones are served daily. Traditional music and dance on Wednesday and Saturday nights.