Athy is a Heritage Town on the River Barrow.
Athy is a fine example of an Anglo Norman linear type settlement. Founded in the 12th century on a river crossing, Athy takes its name from a 2nd century battle fought there which resulted in the death of Ae, son of a Munster Chieftain. Thereafter the river crossing was known in Gaelic as Ath Ae (meaning the Ford of Ae) a name subsequently anglicised as Athy. The Fitzgeralds, Earls of Kildare, were landlords of the town for centuries and most of the street names commemorate their family members, one example being "Emily Square".
Today, Athy is a busy town with character. Narrow, busy streets crowded with little shops make this the very essence of the Irish country market town. It is dominated by the well preserved 16th century White’s Castle, a rectangular turreted tower that sits imposingly by the bridge over the river Barrow in the heart of the town, built to protect the inhabitants.
Things to do
The Grand Canal linking Athy with Dublin was extended to Athy in 1791. With the opening of the railway to Athy in 1846 the Canal fell into disuse. It is now used by pleasure boats and the Canal towpaths now form pleasant walks from Emily Square to Ardreigh and from William Street to Lennon’s Bridge. The woods of Mullragh and Blackwood are all nearby, about 6km from Athy on the third class road to Kildare Town with attractive forest walks and picnic areas.
Moat of Ardscull
About 3 miles outside of Athy on the Kilcullen road is one of the largest Norman mottes in the country, Ardscull Motte. The 35ft high mound with its surrounding ditch and bank and previously incorporated an enclosed yard is believed to be created in the 12th century. Close by is the battle site where Edward Bruce and his Scottish supporters defeated a strong English army in 1316.