Athy Heritage Centre-Museum

Athy History

Town Hall, Emily Square, Athy
059 8633075

Athy is a designated HERITAGE TOWN OF IRELAND and the Athy Heritage Centre-Museum focuses on the history of Athy and the surrounding area.

Located in the former 18th century Market House (now Athy Town Hall), Athy Heritage Centre-Museum brings the history of Athy to life, from its Anglo Norman foundation, through the 1903 Gordon Bennett Race, to Athy Men and World War 1 and the story of local Polar explorer Ernest Shackleton.

Athy Heritage Centre-Museum has the only permanent exhibition anywhere devoted to Shackleton. Its highlights include an original sledge and harness from one of his Antartic expeditions, a 15 foot model of Shackleton's ship 'Endurance' and an audio visual display featuring original film footage of his 1914-1916 expedition. The Heritage Centre hosts an annual Ernest Shackleton Autumn School over the October bank holiday weekend.

Athy Town Hall

Built in or about 1730 as a Market house and Courtouse, it marked the transition from village to market town of the twelfth century Anglo-Norman settlement. The two carved symbols of justice entwined with the Crown of England and the Harp of Ireland on the northern wall of the building indicate it's past use as a courthouse. Lord Norbury commonly called 'the hanging Judge' presided at criminal trials in this building before and after the 1798 Rebellion.

The bell on the Town Hall is from the former St. Michael's Church of Ireland once located to the rear of the Town Hall and bears the date 1682. The original building, which may have been designed by Cassels, who designed Leinster House and Carton House, was extensively enlarged at the turn of the 19th Century.

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