Things to do in Athy – 2024

View of Athy mooring area with Castle and bridge in background

Explore and Experience Athy

Sitting pretty on the banks of the River Barrow in County Kildare, Ireland, Athy is a charming town that boasts a rich history, scenic landscapes, and a welcoming community. Whether you’re a history buff, outdoor enthusiast, or simply looking for a relaxing getaway, Athy has something to offer everyone. Here’s a curated list of the top things to do in Athy to make the most of your visit.

Ground level view of boats, castle and river Barrow in Athy

Athy Heritage Centre-Museum

The Athy Heritage Museum, also known as the Shackleton Museum, is a vibrant socio-historic centre located in Athy, Ireland. The museum was established to celebrate the rich historical legacy of the area, housing materials and audio-visual programs that chronicle the ancient, medieval, and post-16th-century lives and achievements of the people of Athy and its hinterland. The museum also houses material on the Great War and its effects on Athy, the industrial and social effects of the canal in Athy life, information on the Gordon-Bennett race, and a wide range of seasonal exhibitions. A significant feature of the museum is a permanent exhibition devoted to the polar explorer Ernest Shackleton. However, the Athy Heritage Museum is currently closed for redevelopment works but is expected to reopen in early 2025. It is a must-visit for anyone interested in exploring the rich history and culture of Athy and its surrounding areas. For more info, see Shackleton Museum

Athy Waterways

Athy Waterways is a vibrant marina hub dedicated to the River Barrow, Grand Canal, and Barrow Navigation. It caters to a variety of water-based activities including boating, fishing, canoeing, rowing, and triathlon. Athy Waterways plays hosts several festivals/events throughout the year and offers free moorings, a floating jetty, and a variety of clubs/organizations; it’s a haven for water enthusiasts. For more information, see Athy Waterways

View of river Barrow, St Michaels Church and Lime Trees at Rathstewart in Athy

Athy Golf Club

Athy Golf Club, located in Geraldine, Athy, County Kildare, Ireland, is a par 72 course measuring just over 6200 yards from the white tees. The club offers a great variety of features to test and challenge golfers of all skill levels. The greens are meticulously maintained, and the hazards are diverse and plentiful, ensuring an entertaining and engaging golfing experience. The club also hosts future competitions and maintains a list of handicaps and recent competitions. For more information see Athy Golf Club

Athy Community Arts Centre

Engage with the local arts scene at the Athy Community Arts Centre, where you can attend exhibitions, performances, and workshops showcasing the talents of the town’s creative community. For upcoming events, see Athy Community Arts Centre

Athy Library

Athy Library, is a remarkable blend of history and modernity. Housed in a beautifully renovated 1960s Dominican Church, the library was once St. Dominic’s Catholic Church, a landmark that revolutionized church building in Ireland. Today, it serves nearly 30,000 users from Athy and the surrounding hinterlands, offering a wide range of community-centric programs. The library’s design is a testament to the power of innovative library technology, providing an engaging experience for its visitors. It’s open from Monday to Saturday, with varying hours. For more information, see Athy Library

Ariel shot of Athy Library, the former Domincan Church

Peoples Park

The People’s Park in Athy, Ireland, is a beautiful public space with a rich history. Established over 200 years ago, it’s believed that the Duke of Leinster’s family planted a young tree from every foreign country they visited in the park. The park has undergone various improvements over the years, including the widening and resurfacing of paths, installation of new paths, and upgrading of seating and picnic benches. The People’s Park is a testament to Athy’s commitment to providing recreational spaces for its residents and visitors. It’s a wonderful place to relax, enjoy nature, and appreciate the town’s history. Click the link to find the People Park on Google Maps

Levitstown Mill

Located just outside Athy is a significant historical and architectural landmark. Built in 1791, this seven-story mill was once the industrial centre of the region. It’s a fine and imposing stone building of the early nineteenth century. The mill, now in ruins, once produced malt that was transported by barge to the Guinness brewery at St James’s Gate in Dublin. Despite its current state, Levitstown Mill remains a tourist attraction, offering a glimpse into the region’s industrial past. It’s situated on a 5-acre site, with significant river and canal frontage, and even has its own jetty and boat moorings. It’s a charming and peaceful place, perfect for fishing with the river running both in front and at the back of it. Click the link o learn more about Levitstown Mill

Ernest Shackleton Memorial

The Ernest Shackleton Memorial is a significant landmark created by sculptor Mark Richards and located in Emily Square. It is a tribute to the renowned polar explorer, Ernest Shackleton, who was born in the nearby village of Kilkea. The memorial features a larger-than-life sculpture of Shackleton, unveiled by his granddaughter, Alexandra Shackleton. This sculpture commemorates Shackleton’s life, achievements, and his notable Antarctic expeditions. The nearby Shackleton Museum also houses a permanent exhibition devoted to Irelands greatest explorer.

Statue of Ernest Shackleton in Athy with frost on one side

Made of Athy

The Made of Athy Music Trail is a unique initiative by local man Colm Walsh and Kildare County Council. It celebrates the rich musical heritage of Athy, by commemorating its world-famous singers, producers, artists, and musicians. The trail consists of plaques throughout the town, each recalling a notable figure linked to Athy. One such example is Johnny Marr, former guitarist of The Smiths, who unveiled a plaque in his parents’ hometown of Athy as part of this project. This trail not only honours the past but also inspires the future, fostering a vibrant music scene in Athy. Johnny Mar will play in Athy this June and tickets can be purchased through clicking link Ticketmaster (Johnny Mar Athy)

Athy Boat Tours

Athy Boat Tours is a renowned boat tour provider located at Athy Waterway. They offer professional boat tours on the Barrow Navigation, with options for 1 hour, 3 hour, and 5 hour tours. The boat, named “Freedom on the Water”, can accommodate up to twelve passengers and is wheelchair accessible. Athy Boat Tours is not just about providing a service, it’s also a community initiative. Any profits made on the barge go towards the upkeep of the boats and fund other community projects in the Athy area. So, when you choose Athy Boat Tours, you’re also contributing to the local community. However, the boat is currently undergoing some much needed servicing but it is hoped to be back on the water in the near future.

The Barrow Blueway

The Barrow Blueway is a towpath along the banks of the Grand Canal Barrow Line between Lowtown, in north Kildare and Athy town in south Kildare. It meanders through the serene landscapes of the midlands stretching approximately 47km. It serves as a multi-use shared leisure route, accommodating both walkers and cyclists. The trail offers off-road, flat, and accessible public space, making it ideal for outdoor enthusiasts. Along the way, you’ll encounter the towns of Rathangan, Monasterevin, and Vicarstown. These charming locales add to the Blueway’s appeal, allowing you to explore the region’s beauty from a fresh perspective. Whether you’re cycling, walking, or simply soaking in the natural surroundings, the Barrow Blueway promises an enriching experience for all who traverse its tranquil path. Athy is the perfect place to start this adventure, but if your plans are to stay local, be sure to take a short stroll along the Barrow to the start of the Blueway and check out Ireland only purpose built Horse Bridge.

Arial view of river Barrow and walkway

Athy Walk and Talk

Join Cliff Reid for a Walk and Talk any Wednesday at 11am from Athy Youth Café on meeting lane. Each Wednesday, Cliff leads a gentle 2km ramble around the town taking in some of Athy’s most interesting features such as it Murals, Historical sites and Waterways. This if followed by a cup of tea and a social chat back at the Café. There is no charge for the walks as this is a community initiative by Kildare Sports Partnership All are welcome so if you’d like to join the walks, simply turn up at Athy Youth Café.

Three boats moored at pontoon on river Barrow in Athy
Athy Town at night with walker on the river bank and castle and bridge in the background
Boats, bridge and castle over river Barrow in Athy

25th February 2024

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Clifford Reid

Written by Clifford Reid

6 Comments

  1. Stephen O’Rourke

    Very well done 👏

    Reply
    • Clifford Reid

      Many thanks Stephen. (Y)

      Reply
  2. Linda Sourke

    Excellent Clifford very enjoyable and informative

    Reply
    • Clifford Reid

      Many thanks Linda.

      Reply
  3. Kevin

    Is there a chess club in Athy?

    Reply
    • Clifford Reid

      Hi Kevin, I know it use to meet in Athy Library one evening a week. If you ring them on (045) 980 555 they should be able to help. All the best. Cliff

      Reply

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