Athenry (//;[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 Anglo-Norman street-plan. The town is also well known by virtue of the song "The Fields of Athenry".
Baile Átha an Rí
|Elevation||47 m (154 ft)|
|Time zone||UTC±0 (WET)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC+1 (IST)|
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|Telephone area code||+353(0)91|
|Irish Grid Reference||M500282|
Its name derives from the ford ('Áth') crossing the river Clarin just east of the settlement. Though other inaccurate explanations are still given, it was called 'Áth na Ríogh' ('Ford of the Kings') because it was the home area of the Cenél nDéigill, kings of the Soghain, whose leading lineage were the Ó Mainnín. On some medieval maps of English origin the town is called Kingstown.
Originally, Soghain 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.
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. 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. 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.
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.
Economy and transportEdit
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 (Limerick–Sligo).
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.
Athenry Athletics Club has a juvenile and a senior section. The club has produced two Olympic sprinters, Martina McCarthy and Paul Hession. 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. The club reached the 2006 final of the FAI Junior Cup, 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. In 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2016, Athenry also won the Connacht Junior Cup title.
Twin towns – Sister citiesEdit
The following is a list of notable natives of Athenry:
- Slim Barrett (born in the 1960s) – award-winning jewellery designer and artist;
- Anthony Richard Blake (1786–1849) – lawyer, administrator and 'backstairs Viceroy of Ireland';
- Robert Blakeney (1679–1733) – Member of Parliament for Athenry;
- Tomás Bobhdacing (fl. c. 1300) – founder of the Bodkin family;
- Noël Browne (1915–1997) – doctor and politician;
- Dominic Burke (c. 1603–1649) – Dominican priest and political agent;
- John de Burgh (1590–1667) – Archbishop of Tuam;
- Micheál de Búrc (c.1800 – 6 July 1881) – poet;
- Oliver Burke (c. 1598–1672) – Bishop of Kilmacduagh;
- Thomas Burke (c. 1747–1783) – governor of North Carolina;
- James Patrick Broderick (1891–1973) – Jesuit and religious writer;
- Conainne (fl. c. 500) – Christian missionary;
- Ciarán Cannon (born 1965) – Fine Gael Teachta Dála (TD) for the Galway East constituency;
- Eugene Cloonan (born 1978) – hurler;
- John Cummings (1828-after 1913) – piper;
- Patrick D'Arcy (1598–1668) – writer of the constitution of Confederate Ireland;
- Vincent Dillon (died 1651) – Dominican martyr;
- Basilia de Bermingham (fl. c. 1250) – religious patron;
- Meyler de Bermingham – founder of Athenry;
- Rickard de Bermingham (died 1322) – lord of Athenry;
- Liam Deois (fl. early 1800s) – highwayman;
- Padraic Fallon (1905–1974) – poet and playwright;
- Elaine Feeney (born 1979) – poet;
- Julie Feeney (born 1979) – singer and composer;
- Robert French (1716–1779) – MP and landlord;
- Fearghal Ó Taidg an Teaghlaigh (died 1226) – marshal to the kings of Connacht;
- Paul Hession (born 1983) – track and field athlete;
- Kerrill (fl. c. 480) – Christian missionary;
- Nannie Lambert Power O'Donoghue (1843–12 January 1940) – poet, journalist, equestrian;
- Larry Lardner (fl. 1920) – IRA commander;
- Mary Lavin (1912–1996) – writer and novelist;
- Bryan Mahon (1862–1930) – general of the British Army and Senator of the Irish Free State;
- Maél Póil (fl. c. 800s–900s) – medieval abbot of Templemoyle;
- P. J. Molloy (born 1952) – hurler;
- Marcas Ó Callanáin (1784–1836) – poet and balladier;
- Tom O'Connor – local historian;
- John O'Heyne (c. 1648–1713) – historian and Dominican;
- Joe Rabbitte (born 1970) – hurler;
- Frank Shawe-Taylor (1869–1920) – High Sheriff of County Galway, killed during the Irish War of Independence;
- Brian Shawe-Taylor (1915–1999) – racing driver;
- Athenry is pronounced like Athens without the s, followed by rye; the accent is on the last syllable.
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