The Military Museum at Custume Barracks is to open to the public in the near future, councillors were informed at Monday’s meeting of the Athlone Municipal District (June 12 ).
The move was originally called for by local Fianna Fáil councillor, Frankie Keena, in November 2015. Correspondence from the Department of Defence to the council this week confirmed that the museum will open to the public on certain days every week, without yet specifying those days or an exact date of commencement.
Speaking about the news, Cllr Keena said: “This is a long time in coming, but I am delighted that we are seeing a positive outcome here. I put it down as a motion in order to try and get community access to Custume Barracks. There is huge interest in the barracks and all it has to offer, and it is a shame that up to now everything has been concealed behind the barracks walls.”
Cllr Keena said he will later look to link the military museum with all Athlone Castle has to provide from a military point of view, to try and create a military walk or tour.
He added that he is also working on a long-term project regarding the No.1 Battery site down Ranelagh in an effort to make it presentable again, which will provide another arm to the proposed tour.
Cllr Keena also gave special mention to Lt Col Johnny Whittaker of Custume Barracks, whom he said wants to bring the barracks out to the people.
“The museum has a lot to offer,” Cllr Keena continued. “It has memorabelia, medals, old uniforms, photos of people who served overseas, and guns. When the barracks in Mullingar closed they brought some of the material in it to Custume. It is another tourist attraction site for Athlone as well as for local people.”