A group of primary school students from Cornmaddy NS will be the first visitors to the newly refurbished Athlone Castle when it opens its doors on Tuesday.
The students were the last group to visit the castle before it closed for renovation in November 2010, and have been invited back to be the first to view the castle’s transformed interior complete with interactive, multi-sensory visitor experience.
The long-awaited opening of Athlone Castle takes place this Tuesday November 6 from 11am, following a multi-million euro renovation.
The Castle interior now boasts eight newly designed exhibition spaces, which combine hands-on and fun experiences to appeal to both adult and children visitors. Bold sculptural forms help to convey human figures and historical milestones, while 3D maps, audio-visual installations, and illustrations by renowned illustrator Victor Ambrus (best known for his work on Channel 4’s Time Team ), bring the stories and characters of Athlone to life.
The 13th century structure was closed to visitors in November 2010 to facilitate a major refurbishment project. However the renovation was troubled with unforeseen setbacks along the way, as delays with the design and fit-out, as well as problems caused by wet weather this summer, pushed the opening date further back.
Mayor of Athlone Cllr Jim Henson said the new castle experience will be worth the wait.
“It’s going to be absolutely fabulous, a whole new experience. I am looking forward to showing it off to visitors, including my own friends and relatives who come to visit,” said Cllr Henson, who said the audio-visual displays are particularly impressive.
“People who are organising conferences in the town regularly ring me to ask for suggestions for visitors. The castle will be high on the list now, and will be a fabulous base and starting point to show off our town.
“The council worked long and hard on it and their work is coming to fruition now. It will be a huge benefit to the town. It has cost so much and we’ve waited so long, but it is worth the wait.”
Athlone Castle will be open this Tuesday November 6 from 11am. The official opening will take place in February 2013 to coincide with the commencement of the tourist season.
Opening hours during low season (from November to March 16 ) will be Tuesday to Saturday 11am-5pm and Sunday 12-5pm. High season opening hours (from March 17 to October 31 ) will be Monday to Saturday 10am-6pm and Sunday 12-6pm.
Admission is €8 for an adult, €6 for student or OAP, and €4 for children under 15. Family tickets are €20, and group bookings are available on request.