16 Jun 2017
For those who like to be in the middle of things, Athlone is the place to be. Set on the Shannon, in the heart of the country, its location makes it a real draw for river and road traffic.
Many of those who live on barges on Ireland's waterways winter up in Athlone, at the Council moorings, adding to the cosmopolitan air of this historic town. If you're thinking of dropping anchor in Athlone, here are seven nuggets of local knowledge:
1. It boasts Ireland's oldest pub, among other cultural gems
Certified by the Guinness Book of Records as the oldest pub in the country, originally dating from 900AD, Sean's Bar is a watering hole with a sense of history. Get in step to traditional music here or in other local pubs. For festival nights out, there's the annual RTE All-Ireland Drama Festival and the Far Side Festival of Creativity, from October 7 to 9, 2016. Other hotspots include theatres and galleries.
It’s a little known fact that world renowned tenor John McCormack* was born here in 1884 and an exhibition is dedicated to him in the 12th century Athlone Castle. The town also has its fair share of modern Irish starlets, including rugby ace Robbie Henshaw, as well as Donna and Joseph McCaul.* (Remember them?)
2. Athlone is well connected and perfect for commuters
"It's very central, with an excellent transport network, and is known as the gateway to the west," says Sheila. "It has train routes to Dublin, Galway and Westport and a regular daily bus service to Dublin and Galway. The M6 links Athlone to Dublin and Galway, with six exits off the motorway, stretching from one end of the town to the other. It's 120km to Dublin city centre and 85km to Galway city centre.”
The central location has boosted employment. Big employers include the Department of Education; Custume Barracks; Alkarmes: and Ericsson. The IDA, Enterprise Ireland, the Revenue Commissioners, Bus Éireann, and Irish Rail all have offices locally. RTE has its midlands studio here – so there’s plenty here for a whole host of workers.
3. It's ace for outdoor living
Apart from having the fantastic natural amenity that is the River Shannon and the ease with which you can take to the water, there's also the Old Rail Trail Greenway, a purpose built off-road shared pedestrian and cycleway trail along a disused railway track for 40km between Athlone and Mullingar.
There's also the thrills and spills of the super-sized Bay Sports Inflatable Waterpark at Hodson Bay, reflecting the heritage of the area, with a Viking slide, the Athlone Castle climbing wall and jumping platform, and a new Round Tower slide.
4. The soccer team is the stuff of local legend
If you want a feel-good sports story, you don’t have to look over the water to Premiership teams – Athlone Town has its own claim to sports fame. The team made headlines in 1975 when it took on AC Milan in the second round of the UEFA Cup at St Mel's Park and drew 0-0. A crowd of over 10,000 saw the League of Ireland side take on the Italian giants, and needless to say, these days soccer continues to be huge, along with GAA, rugby and athletics. Whether you're a spectator or a participant, living it large in sporty Athlone is the goal.
5. It's awash with good restaurants and shops.
The award-winning Kin Khoa Thai restaurant, located in a former army hospital, with a sunny yellow facade, is one of many local restaurants offering top notch food. Others, Sheila says, include The Left Bank Bistro, The Fatted Calf, Hatter's pub and Thyme. If the nearby Wineport Lodge Hotel looks familiar, it's because it previously hosted the TV show 'The Restaurant.'
As well as Athlone Town Centre and the Golden island shopping centre, there's a slew of independent shops and boutiques to tempt.
6. It's the perfect place to raise a family
Offering waterside, urban and rural living, with a wide choice of second level school options and a highly regarded Institute of Technology in the town, Athlone has lots to appeal to families. As the largest town in the midlands, it's brim-full of things to see and do, including Glendeer open pet farm out the road in Drum, but small enough to have a strong sense of community.
Facilities and amenities are impressive. For example, local juvenile and adult athletes avail of the international indoor area and 400m outdoor track and cross-country route in the grounds of Athlone IT.
7. First-time buyers have rich pickings here
For anyone starting out, there’s a good mix of reasonably priced properties available, according to Sheila. "Areas like Bealnamulla had a fantastic four-bed house on the market with Oates Auctioneers for €245,000 at the end of April, 2016," she says.
"Properties in the Monksland area range from €105,000 for a three-bed terrace to a detached five-bed for €240,000, and Coosan had a three-bed semi-detached house on the market with Oates Auctioneers for €140,000."**
Thinking of buying a house in Athlone?
Before you go house hunting, it's a good idea to get your mortgage arranged – or at least find out where you stand. Get the ball rolling with our First Time Buyer and Next Time Buyer guides. You can use our mortgage calculator to find out how much you may be able to borrow.
You can also call in and talk through your mortgage options. They offer a face-to-face service and you can book a 30 Minute Mortgage Meeting with Fiona or one of the team in the EBS Raheny Office.
Why not pay us a visit on our Facebook page for more great home tips, great competitions and a bit of craic?
Sheila Martin of Betty Martin Financial Services Ltd is a tied mortgage agent acting solely on behalf of EBS d.a.c. EBS d.a.c. is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.
The content of this blog is expressed in broad terms and is limited to general information purposes only. Readers should always seek professional advice to address issues arising in specific contexts and not seek to rely on the information in this blog which does not constitute any form of advice or recommendation by EBS d.a.c.
*If we mention celebrities, we're not saying they love us. They secretly might, but it doesn't mean they endorse us.
EBS d.a.c. neither accepts nor assumes any responsibility in relation to the contents of this blog and excludes all warranties, undertakings and representations (either express or implied) to the fullest extent permitted under applicable law.
Prices taken from Daft.ie and Myhome.ie accessed May 2016.