The Bridges Of Athlone Project

Exploring The Structures that Connect our Heartlands

Athlone’s place at the heart of Ireland means that it is a crossroads for transport infrastructure with bridges for roads rivers and railways being an integral part of the journey.

In celebration of the roles bridges play, Westmeath Arts, Heritage and Libraries have developed a multidisciplinary project to shine a light on the importance of the Athlone Bridges. We will be examining the cultural and social histories that connect us to our local infrastructure.

Working with acclaimed illustrator Conor McHale, the history of Athlone’s lost bridges will be brought to life in a series of comic strips and talks. Click here for a sneak peak.

Award winning photographer Paul Moore has been capturing aspects of Athlone bridges, the exhibition will launch in the Aidan Heavey Library Athlone on 19th December at 6.30pm.

The town's social history is crucial to the project. In October locals were invited to share their memories of the bridges through recollections and memorabilia for a radio documentary. This will be launched on the 19th of December and also made available as a podcast. Children and teenagers explored the engineering aspects of bridge building through a series of workshops in Athlone Library. Click here for some photos of these events.

The Bridges of Athlone Exhibition Launch

The Westmeath Culture Team at Westmeath County Council are launching a special exhibition celebrating the Bridges of Athlone on Tuesday 19th December from 6.30pm in Athlone Library. The exhibition runs until 8th January 2024.

In celebration of the roles bridges play in Athlone, Westmeath ArtsHeritage and Libraries have developed a multidisciplinary project to shine a light on the importance of the Athlone Bridges. The Bridge project culminates in this exhibition launch, which will explore the cultural and social histories that connect us to our local infrastructure.

Award-winning photographer Paul Moore has been capturing the beauty of Athlone’s bridges, his selected photographs will be on display accompanied by short histories which explain the relevance of the bridges to the town. Luan Academy, a local Irish dancing school will open the launch with a performance of the famous jig, The Bridges of Athlone.

The Culture team have also been working with acclaimed illustrator Conor McHale, who has been bringing the history of Athlone’s lost bridges to life in a series of comic strips and talks. Conor will give a brief overview of his work at the launch on 19th.

Speaking about the launch, Westmeath County Arts Officer Miriam Mulrennan says;

“This has been a very special project, and it comes at an important time for Athlone with the construction of the new Greenway Bridge over the Shannon. Athlone’s place at the heart of Ireland has long seen it as a crossroads for the county; that heritage continues now with the Greenway Bridge, which connects the country from coast to coast. We have thoroughly enjoyed working with the community in Athlone to unearth some precious local social histories, and we look forward to joining with the community once more to celebrate the town’s cultural and infrastructural influence.”

Heritage Officer Melanie McQuade added;

“The construction the new bridge in Athlone is an historic event. It gives us pause to reflect on how our ancestors crossed the Shannon. When was the first bridge built? What did the early bridges look like? And how were they engineered and constructed? Archaeological Illustrator Conor McHale has produced a fantastic graphic that really brings to life the history of bridging the Shannon at Athlone. Conor will join us on 19th December to share some of the interesting research and creative processes involved in producing his comic strip poster on the Bridges of Athlone.”

Join us in our journey through the past and present exploring the Bridges of Athlone.

This project is supported by Creative Ireland Westmeath.

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