Athlone

The Shannon, Sean’s bar & a 90th birthday

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My Granny turned 90 last weekend. She’s an amazing woman, who as a widow raised 10 children alone. Her life is full of stories and of times that have changed for both the good and bad. She’s from a small village on the west coast of Ireland, Belmullet – which sits on the tip of the peninsula surrounded by the Atlantic. It’s a beautiful place, circled by blue flag beaches and neolithic mounds and shrines. I’ll have to dedicate an entire post to the area sometime on the blog but as Maureen requested, she wanted to visit Athlone to celebrate the big day. I think the last time the entire family gathered like we did over the weekend was 10 years ago at granny’s 80th in Belmullet. It was a great bash and was great to catch up with all the cousins (12 in total – good ‘ald Catholicism). Granny had a wonderful time and she was treated as the queen she is. She’s truly a marvel. Very religious, prays daily, the rosary, the lot and she is the only person I know that actually acknowledges the Angelus (and god help you if you don’t when she’s around). Despite her strong catholic values and at 90 – Maureen has always been surprisingly progressive, squashing likely presumptions in that she voted for marriage equality and supports the right for women to have control of their bodies. My granny must have received at least 100 cards among gifts, no exaggeration. She lived her long life without a single enemy but many friends, who admire her generosity, care and her brilliance at bridge & cards. As she said herself, there have been bad times and good times but she feels very lucky.

Here’s to making it to one hundred, gran!

On the Shannon

When we weren’t all gathered in the hotel for birthday celebrations, the family broke off to spend the day doing different things. My father, sister and my aunt and I decided to take a boat trip on the river Shannon. It cost 20 euros for the 2hr trip and included tea and coffee or a glass of wine to sit back and relax with as you took in the view. As the weather was fine we sat out on deck but if it rained, the lounge with a bar and view of the helm and captain is sheltered to keep you out from the wet.  The trip was lovely and by the time you cross the border from Co.Westmeath to Roscommon, you’ll be served strawberries and cream.

Great value and a lovely outing. If you’re in Athlone and without young children I would really recommend this. It was time well spent and the harbour is easy to find – just down by the bank of Athlone castle. You can’t miss it.

See: www.romaris.ie for details.

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Another two spots I would recommend is, firstly, Sean’s Bar. It’s a great pub with a great atmosphere but what’s real special is that it is Ireland’s oldest bar and the oldest pub in Europe! (1,000 years – a proven Guinness record) It’s located just behind the stone of Athlone’s medieval castle and is in the heart of the old part of the town. With low wooden ceilings, sawdust on the floor and a burning turf fire – little has changed inside and there are a number of historical items to be seen too, such as original Arthur Guinness signed documents, as well as live music and gigs. It was a great spot and I would return to it if in Athlone again.

For the craic: Sean’s Bar

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The second spot in Athlone you shouldn’t pass by is a nice bistro just three doors down from Sean’s bar on High Street. We spent our first evening there and the food is wonderful (it’s a shame I didn’t take any photos – but as you can imagine, lots of cousins, lots of talking). The early bird menu is great value too with 3 courses at 25 euros. Modern decor with views of the castle – it’s a nice spot for lunch or dinner and wine is great value too.

The Left Bank, wine bar & bistro

Address: Fry Place, High St, Athlone, Co. Westmeath.

Author: TheAddict'sScrapbook

About the addict: Irish, a madman, a writer, a freelance editor, ranter, a whiskey drinker, a talker, a traveler & a big eater.

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