Jump to content


Coordinates: 53°18′00″N 8°44′46″W / 53.300°N 8.746°W / 53.300; -8.746
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Baile Átha an Rí
Athenry Castle
Athenry is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 53°18′00″N 8°44′46″W / 53.300°N 8.746°W / 53.300; -8.746
CountyCounty Galway
47 m (154 ft)
Time zoneUTC±0 (WET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+1 (IST)
Eircode routing key
Telephone area code+353(0)91
Irish Grid ReferenceM500282

Athenry (/æθənˈr/;[a] Irish: Baile Átha an Rí, meaning 'Town of the Ford of the King') is a town in County Galway, Ireland, which lies 25 kilometres (16 mi) east of Galway city. Some of the attractions of the medieval town are its town wall, Athenry Castle, its priory and its 13th century street-plan. The town is also well known by virtue of the song "The Fields of Athenry".


St. Mary's Parish Church in Athenry.

Athenry's name derives from the ford ('Áth') crossing the river Clarin just east of the settlement. It was originally called 'Áth na Ríogh' ('Ford of the Kings') because it was the home area of the Cenél nDéigill kings of Soghan, whose leading lineage were the Ó Mainnín.[5] On some medieval maps of English origin the town is called Kingstown.

Originally, Soghan was surrounded by Uí Maine to the east, Aidhne to the south, and Maigh Seola to the west. However, after 1135, and by 1152, Tairrdelbach Ua Conchobair forcibly incorporated it into the newly created trícha cét of Clann Taidg, ruled by lords such as Fearghal Ó Taidg an Teaghlaigh, who expelled the Ó Mainnín family. In the 1230s the Ó Taidg an Teaghlaigh family were in turn displaced by Meyler de Bermingham.[5]

The earliest remaining building in the town is Athenry Castle which was built sometime before 1240 by Meyler de Bermingham. In 1241, the Dominican Priory was founded, and became an important center for learning and teaching. It was ostensibly closed during the Protestant Reformation but survived until being desecrated and burned during the Mac an Iarla wars of the 1560s–80s, and was finally vandalised by Cromwellians in the 1650s. The medieval walls around Athenry are among the most complete and best preserved in Ireland with 70% of original circuit still standing, along with some of the original towers and the original North gate.[6] The remains of the Lorro Gate were partially unearthed in 2007 during the redevelopment of road works in the area.

In the centre of the town is the 'square'; markets were held from the 17th century onwards and where the town's late 15th century 'Market Cross' is still located. The monument which is of Tabernacle or Lantern type is the only one of its kind in Ireland and the only medieval cross still standing in situ in the country.[7] A Heritage centre now occupies the remains of the mid-13th century St Mary's Collegiate Church adjacent to the town Square. The original medieval church is largely destroyed but in 1828 a Church of Ireland church was built into its chancel.

A late Bronze Age shield, found near Athenry, is now in the British Museum

In 1791, Jean Antoine Coquebert de Montbret visited the town, which he described as:

It covers 50 acres but has not more than 60 houses. [...] There is an abbey of which the ruins are almost all standing. There is a big uninhabited castle called Bermingham's Court [...]. In the middle of Athenry is the stump of a cross destroyed in the wars, on which a crucifix in bas-relief still remains. [...] I noticed at the door of a tavern a large cake decorated with a bouquet. It was a prize for the best dancer. [...] The road from Athenry is very beautiful and there are no barriers.

Moyode Castle is another tall 16th-century fortified tower house of the Dolphin family, which went to the Persse family. The castle is now restored and inhabited and is located 3.5 miles (5.6 km) from the town of Athenry.

In 1863, a late Bronze Age shield was found in the vicinity of Athenry, and is now held in the British Museum's collection.[9]

Economy and transport

Athenry Dominican Priory



By road, Athenry is served by the M6 motorway which links Galway city to Dublin. By rail, it is served by the Athenry railway station, which opened on 1 August 1851 and lies on the Galway–Dublin main line of the Irish rail network. The town is at the junction of the Galway–Dublin line, and the partially complete the Western Railway Corridor (LimerickSligo).



In December 2017, funding was announced for a "Food Innovation Hub" in Athenry, projected by its promoters to create 360 jobs within 3 years, and to cost in the region of €3.9m.[10]

River Clarin



Athenry is home to the Gaelic Athletic Association St. Mary Club,[11] which has won three All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship titles.

Athenry Athletics Club has a juvenile and a senior section.[12][13] The club has produced two Olympic sprinters, Martina McCarthy and Paul Hession.[14][15] McCarthy represented Ireland in the women's 4 × 400 metres relay at the 2000 Summer Olympics and Hession competed in the men's 200 metres at the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Athenry is also home to Athenry F.C., founded in 1971.[16] The club reached the 2006 final of the FAI Junior Cup,[17] and the following year it became the Galway & District League champions for the first time, repeating the same achievement during the 2007–08, 2009–10, and 2014–15 seasons.[18] In 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2016, Athenry also won the Connacht Junior Cup title.[18]

Athenry is also home of the Athenry Golf Club and Athenry Judo Club.[19][20]

International relations


Twin towns – Sister cities


Athenry is twinned with the town of Quimperlé in Brittany (France) and, since 2013, Renews-Cappahayden, Newfoundland and Labrador (Canada).[21][22]



The following is a list of notable natives of Athenry:

See also



  1. ^ Athenry is pronounced like Athens without the s, followed by rye; the accent is on the last syllable.


  1. ^ a b "Profile 1 - Population Distribution and Movement F1015 - Population: Athenry, Co. Galway". Central Statistics Office (Ireland). Retrieved 21 July 2023.
  2. ^ "Histpop — The Online Historical Population Reports Project". HistPop.org. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  3. ^ Lee, John Joseph (1981). "On the accuracy of the pre-famine Irish censuses". In Connell, Kenneth Hugh; Goldstrom, J. M.; Clarkson, Leslie A. (eds.). Irish population, economy, and society: Essays in honour of the late K.H. Connell. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press. pp. 37–56.
  4. ^ Mokyr, Joel; Ó Gráda, Cormac (1984). "New developments in Irish population history, 1700-1850". The Economic History Review. 37 (4): 473–488. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0289.1984.tb00344.x. hdl:10197/1406.
  5. ^ a b "The Mannion Clan". MannionClan.org. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  6. ^ Rynne, Etienne (1992). Athenry: A Medieval Irish town. Athenry Historical Society. ISBN 978-0716524748.
  7. ^ Thomas, Avril (1992). The walled towns of Ireland. Irish Academic Press. ASIN B00382S42I.
  8. ^ Ní Chinnéide, Síle (1952). "Coquebert de Montbret's: Impressions of Galway City and County in the year 1791". Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society. 25 (1/2): 1–14. ISSN 0332-415X. OCLC 5557175705.
  9. ^ "Museum number 1888,0719.1 - Shield". British Museum Collection. Retrieved 19 October 2020.
  10. ^ Siggins, Lorna; Hamilton, Peter (11 December 2017). "Athenry gets €4.5m food innovation campus as Apple 'in limbo'". The Irish Times. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  11. ^ "St. Mary GAA Club Athenry official website". Athenrygaa.it. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  12. ^ "Athenry AC Juvenile Contact Information". AthenryAC.com. Archived from the original on 7 June 2017. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
  13. ^ "Athenry AC (Senior) 10th Anniversary - some thoughts and numbers". AthenryAC.com. December 2012. Archived from the original on 7 June 2017. Retrieved 7 June 2017.
  14. ^ "Martina Medals at AAI Games". AthenryAC.com. 18 May 2009. Archived from the original on 7 May 2017. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  15. ^ "Good Luck Paul Hession". AthenryAC.com. 20 August 2007. Archived from the original on 7 May 2017. Retrieved 7 May 2017.
  16. ^ "Athenry FC History". AthenrySoccerClub.ie. Archived from the original on 29 May 2017. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  17. ^ "FAI Junior Cup 2006". FAI.it. Football Association of Ireland. Archived from the original on 5 October 2006. Retrieved 5 October 2006.
  18. ^ a b "Athenry Football Club Roll of Honor". AthenrySoccerClub.ie. Archived from the original on 29 May 2017. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  19. ^ "History of Athenry Golf Club". AthenryGolfClub.net. Archived from the original on 28 October 2017. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  20. ^ "Athenry Judo Club". AthenryJudoClub.com. Retrieved 28 October 2017.
  21. ^ "Jumelage Quimperlé-Athenry: Pâques en Irlande". Le Télégramme (in French). 12 February 2007. Archived from the original on 12 June 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2017.
  22. ^ "Athenry twinned with Newfoundland town". Galway Advertiser. 5 September 2013. Archived from the original on 12 June 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2017.

Further reading

  • Blake, Martin J. (1902). "The abbey of Athenry". Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society. 2 (2): 65–90.
  • Browne, Paul (2003). Eagles over Ireland. Paul Browne and the Flying Fortress 1943 Project (2003).
  • Cody, Eamon (1989). An archaeological survey of the Barony of Athenry, County Galway (PhD). National University of Ireland, Galway.
  • Finnerty, Martin (1951). Punann Arsa: The story of Athenry, Co. Galway. ASIN B0007JU37E.
  • Finnerty, Martin (1951). Punann Arsa: The story of Athenry, Co. Galway. Ballinasloe: The Author. OCLC 19053582.
  • John., Givens (2008). Irish walled towns. Dublin: Liffey Press. ISBN 978-1905785261. OCLC 190966333.
  • Holland, Patrick (1997). "The Anglo-Norman landscape in County Galway; Land-holdings, castles and settlements". Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society. 49: 159–193.
  • Healy, Ann (1989). Athenry: A brief history and guide. Athenry: A. Healy. OCLC 25247772.
  • Jordan, Kieran (2000). Kiltullagh/Killimordaly as the centuries passed: A history from 1500–1900. Kiltullagh/Killimordaly Historical Society. ISBN 978-0953868407. OCLC 47658628.
  • Macalister, Robert Alexander Stewart (1913). "The Dominican Church at Athenry". The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. 3 (3): 197–222. ISSN 0035-9106. OCLC 5557091173.
  • MacCarthy, Bartholomew; Hennessy, William Maunsell; O'Cassidy, Rory; Maguire, Cathal MacMaghnusa; Royal Irish Academy (1887–1901). Annala Uladh: Annals of Ulster otherwise Annala Senait, Annals of Senat: a chronicle of Irish affairs from A.D. 431 to A.D. 1540. Dublin: Printed for H. M. Stationery off., by A. Thom & co.
  • McNeill, Charles (1920). "Remarks on the walls and church of Athenry". Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical. 11 (34): 132–141.
  • O'Connor, Tom (2003). Turoe and Athenry: Ancient capitals of Celtic Ireland. Cork: Tom O'Connor. ISBN 978-0954487508. OCLC 53156104.
  • O'Regan, Finbarr, ed. (1999). The Lamberts of Athenry: A book on the Lambert families of Castle Lambert and Castle Ellen, Co. Galway. Athenry: Finbarr O'Regan for Lambert Project Society. OCLC 605967315.
  • Papazian, Cliona; Collins, Brenda; McCarthy, Margaret (1991). "Excavations at Athenry Castle, Co. Galway". Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society. 43: 1–45. ISSN 0332-415X. OCLC 5557085297.
  • Roy, James Charles (2008). The Fields of Athenry: A journey through Irish history. Boulder, CO: Basic Books. ISBN 9780786742547. OCLC 817927632.
  • Rynne, Etienne (1992). Athenry: A medieval Irish town. Athenry: Athenry Historical Society. OCLC 26764288.
  • Sheehy, Maurice P. (1964). "The Parish of Athenry in 1434". Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society. 31 (1/2): 8–10. ISSN 0332-415X. OCLC 5557173255.
  • Walsh, Anne (1996). "Smallpox in Athenry, 1875". Journal of the Galway Archaeological and Historical Society. 48: 143–152. OCLC 538306019.