Historic hospitality in Athlone
Named after Luain, a 10th century innkeeper who manned an ancient ford in the mighty Shannon, the central Irish town of Athlone has kept those traditions of hospitality alive. That inn is now Sean’s Bar, one of Ireland’s oldest and just the sawdust-floored, turf-fired spot to savour a blended whiskey dedicated to Luain himself. It’s tucked beside Athlone Castle, a 12th-century Norman stronghold, in the medieval Left Bank, a hub of great places to eat. Try the Left Bank Bistro for a baked ham and farmhouse cheddar sandwich; Kin Khao Thai for a fine curry; or Lowe & Co organic grocery store to browse local treats such as Feighery’s Farm beetroot and apple juice. Across the river, Thyme Restaurant is an ode to Midlands producers (think free-range pork belly from their neighbours at Horan’s Pork Shop, with smoked black pudding, turnip and apple) while vegetarians are surprisingly well fed at The Fatted Calf, with dishes such as fermented barley risotto with salt-baked celeriac.
If you have more time:
Discover the heritage of Midlands whiskey at Tullamore D.E.W. and Kilbeggan distilleries, either under your own speed or with Midlands Whiskey Experiences.