Athlone Castle Clonmacnoise Lockes Newgrange Dun Na Si Birr Castle Portlick Castle

Athlone Castle

20 Minute drive from Benown House


Athlone (Ath Luain - the Ford of Luan) is situated on the principal fording point of the middle Shannon. In 1129 King Turlough O'Connor recognised it's strategic importance and built a wooden castle here. In 1210 King John of England ordered the building of a stone castle and bridge. The Castle was built by John de Gray, Bishop of Norwich and it's strategic location made it central to the Siege of Athlone in 1691. Now a focal point for visitors and tourism it features exhibitions and audio visual presentations on:


The siege of Athlone. River Shannon Flora and Fauna. Folk and Military Museum. Life of John Count McCormack.


Ph: 090-6472107


Opening Months: Closed for 2010 season for major renovation. Due to re-open for the 2011 season.


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25 Minute drive from Benown House


Clonmacnoise was founded by St Ciaran in about AD 545. He is reputed to have come down the Shannon from his hermit's cell on Hare Island to establish this monastic settlement where the east-west route along the esker ridges of central Ireland, met the north-south route of the Shannon. Although St Ciaran died seven months later Clonmacnoise grew into a great monastic city famed throughout Europe.


The site includes the ruins of a cathedral, seven churches (10th -13th century), two round towers, three high crosses and the largest collection of Early Christian graveslabs in Western Europe. The original high crosses and a selection of graveslabs are on display in the visitor centre.


Ph: 090-9674195


Opening Hours:

November - Mid March: Daily 10:00 - 17:30.

Mid March - Mid May: Daily 10:00 - 18:00.

Mid May - Mid September: Daily 09:00 - 19:00.

Mid September - October: Daily 10:00 - 18:00.


Admission Fees:

Adult: €6.00

Sen/Group: €4.00

Child/Student: €2.00

Family: €14.00


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Locke's Distillery

20 Minute drive from Benown House


"Believed to be the oldest Licensed Pot Still Distillery in the world"


Locke's Distillery established in 1757 is believed to be the oldest licenced pot still whiskey distillery in the world. For almost 200 years, until it closed in 1954, the distillery produced a traditional pot still Irish malt whiskey. In 1982 the local community began restoring the distillery and have re-opened it as a museum.


The museum is open seven days a week and there is a choice of a guided or self-guided tour. The guided tour takes about 40 minutes and shows the ancient process of whiskey making, from the mill stones, to the mash tuns, underbacks, fermentation vats, can pit stills to the casking of the final product. In July 1997, the machinery turned again for the first time since closure. The drive shaft, pulleys and pumps are all working on a daily basis.


Ph: 090-9674195



Opening Hours:

April - October: 09:00 to 18:00

November – March: 10:00 to 16:00


Admission Fees:

Adult: €6.50

Sen/Student: €5.50

Child: €4.10

Family: €15.00


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20 Minute drive from Benown House


Built some 5,300 years ago, this holy place is one of the oldest built structures in the world. Known in Gaelic as Uaimh na Gréine, 'the cave of the sun', Newgrange is a pagan monument, with a vaulted roof and a cruciform design. Its history is interwoven with intriguing myths and the mysteries of its construction. The lore of its past calls ever-growing numbers of visitors to this chamber of light. Newgrange is at the centre of an entire Boyne valley megalithic culture and religious ritual.


Winter Solstice:

Newgrange is best known for the illumination of its passage and chamber by the winter solstice sun. Above the entrance to the passage at Newgrange there is a opening called a roof-box. This baffling orifice held a great surprise for those who unearthed it. Its purpose is to allow sunlight to penetrate the chamber on the shortest days of the year, around December 21, the winter solstice.


At dawn, from December 19th to 23rd, a narrow beam of light penetrates the roof-box and reaches the floor of the chamber, gradually extending to the rear of the chamber. As the sun rises higher, the beam widens within the chamber so that the whole room becomes dramatically illuminated. This event lasts for 17 minutes, beginning around 9am.


Ph: 090-9674195



Opening Hours:

February - April: Daily 09.30 - 17.30.

May: Daily 09.00 - 18.30.

June - Mid September: Daily 09.00 - 19.00.

Mid - End September: Daily 09.00 - 18.30.

October: Daily 09.30 - 17.30.

November - January: Daily 09.00 - 17.00.


Admission Fees: Visitors Centre and Newgrange Megalithic Tomb

Adult: €6.00

Senior/Group: €5.00

Child/Student: €3.00

Family: €15.00


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Dun Na Si

15 Minute drive from Benown House


Step Back into the bygone age of Irish life. See what life was like in the Ireland of over 100 years ago. Old farm machinery, thatched home, hedge schools and more.


Trace your family root with the help of expert assistance.


Music, Song, dance, and story telling evenings and weekend.


Ph: 090-96481183


Opening Hours: All Year

Mon-Thurs: 09.00-17.00

Fri: 09.00-16.00


Admission Fees:

Adult: €3.50

Senior/OAP: €2.00

Child: €1.50


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Birr Castle


40 Minute drive from Benown House


Ireland’s award winning gardens, set in one of Ireland’s beautiful Georgian heritage towns, Birr Castle Demesne offers a combination of fun, relaxation and discovery to all who visit. Best known for the unparalleled beauty of the gardens, the grounds are home to an impressive plant collection with rare species from around the world, including over forty champion trees of the British Isles. The millennium gardens reflect a French style formal garden and include plants exclusive to the demesne. It also proudly houses the world’s tallest box hedges and beautiful pathways of hornbeam cloister.


Ireland historic science centre and great telescope: Travel back to the time of the earlier Earls and Countesses of Rosse, when Birr Castle was a hub of scientific discovery and innovation. The interactive museum reveals the wonders of early photography, engineering and astronomy, with a special emphasis on the third Earl’s great telescope, a leviathan creation that remained the largest in the world for over seventy years.


Ph: 057-9120336



Opening Hours:

Mid-March to October 09.00-18.00

November to February 12.00-16.00


Admission Fees:

Adult: €9.00

Senior/Student: €7.50

Child (5 and under): free

Family (2 adults, 2 children): €25


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