Contact Us

Athenry Heritage Centre
St. Mary's,The Square, Athenry,
Co. Galway
T: +353 (0)91 844661
Email Us





Walking Tours

Discover our award winning architectual walking tour.
Get the brochure, illustrated map and audio narrative for free here.Illustrated map of Athenry

Brochure download

Download and save our brouchure for 2012/2013 and read off-line.Brochure for athenry heritage centre 2012

Athenry Castle, County Galway.

Athenry Castle

The remains reveal at least three main phases of buildings (Fig 1). The original keep was low and squat, the roof being at the level of the present second floor (Fig. 2). This can be seen by the two large holes (for draining away roof-water) halfway up in each gable. Shortly afterwards the castle was raised in height by another story (also 13th cent. c.1250?), while in the 15th century the gable-ends were raised to accommodate a new and higher roof rising above the battlements. The present basement vault is an insertion.

Athenry Castle

Entrance to the castle was by an external wooden stairs leading to a decorated doorway in the east wall at first floor level. Two fine windows remain at this level, both carved like the doorway -- such carved work is unique to Athenry Castle though quite common in ecclesiastical buildings. Also unique to Athenry castle is that over its doorway was a small canopy-like affair, traces of which remain; this consisted of slabs projecting from the wall above the doorway.

Athenry Castle Fig 2

Access from the first floor to the second floor was by a wooden stairs (as no trace of any other stairs remain, this must have been so), and from the second to the third floor by an intra-mural stairway (within the east wall, beginning roughly above the doorway).

Athenry CastleThe main room (1st floor) also had a grade-robe or latrine at its north-western corner, consisting of a projecting 'room', only part of which still remains.

The keep was built close enough to the north-western part roof the surrounding curtain-wall to allow it to overlook the wall, thus making a wall-tower at this point unnecessary. Wall-towers, however, were built at the north-east and south-east corners of the curtain-wall, while the south-western corner was fortified by the gate (now a modern replacement, but undoubtedly originally strong and adequately fortified).
The castle seems to have generally been cold and dark; there are no windows at second floor level, and no fireplaces anywhere; the fire was probably centrally placed in the upper room, the smoke escaping through a louvre or opening in the center of the roof. In the 15th century the Berminghams moved from it to their town house near the market cross in the square.

Researched and written by Professor Etienne Rynne
(c) 2000 Etienne Rynne