Street names of Athlone




Originally published in the Athlone Civic Week programme 1946.


RIVER LANE or GANLEY LANE: An opening to the south off Irishtown.
MARDYKE STREET: Mary’s dyke or ditch. It, like Irishtown, was outside the town walls. The name undoubtedly comes from the patroness of the parish, Our Lady of the Assumption.

SCOTCH PARADE and SCOTCH PARADE HILL: The street in front of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, in which the Marist Brothers? schools now stand. During the siege of Athlone in 1690 a battery of guns was placed on the road just opposite the present National School.

ST. MARY’S TERRACE takes its name from St. Mary’s Church.

THE BOWER CONVENT: Our Lady’s Bower, on its imposing height, overlooks the whole district, and is the origin of other street names, such as Bower View and Ankers Bower: the latter is the name of a terrace of houses on the south side of Brideswell Street. Two possible derivations of this name, Ankers Bower, would be: first that it means Bothar an Ancaire, theanchorite’s road or pass, and second that it is called after a parson, Ankers, who was the first incumbent of theJacobean church, St. Mary’s, Church Street. He was vicar from 1608 to 1629, and had two sons, Richard and Oliver. In 1663 Oliver Ankers and others petitioned King Charles II for restoration of their estates at Athlone. This parson, Ankers, may have given his name to this district, and O’Donovan states this as his opinion.

LOVE LANE (now obsolete) ran almost exactly on the site of the present St. Mel?s Terrace road. Where St. Mel’s Terrace of houses now stands was then green fields, and Love Lane was a narrow passway, scarcely wide enough to accommodate a donkey and cart. Sarsfield Square did not then exist, and there was but onehouse between Bower Viewand the railway level crossing.

ST. MEL’S TERRACE is a completely new site and new terrace of houses. The name comes from St. Mel, the patron of the diocese of Ardagh. The inhabitantsare the people who were removed from south Irishtown and Castlemaine Street in the first slum clearance of the 1930s.

SARSFIELD SQUARE: The Square consists of 135 housesbuilt, like St. Mel’s Terrace, by the Urban Council in 1940, on land purchased from the Mackens and Foys of Church Street.

GARDEN VALE: A street of very fine residences. The name may just be a “beauty name” or could have a connection with or be a corruption of Garnafaileach – Garrdha na Feile – the Garden of Hospitality.

FAIRVIEW: The name probably comes from the Fair Green, which is opposite.

GLEESON STREET: Called after Dr. Gleeson, the founder of the Athlone Woolen Mills, who had his residence where the Marist Brothers’ monastery now stands. In this street was also the Catholic church for St. Mary’s parish, on the site now occupied by a coach factory.
GRIFFITH STREET: This name isanother modern appellation of the Urban Council, no doubt with the idea of honouring the memory of the late Arthur Griffith, President of the Irish Free State. Previously it was known as Glasses’ Lane, and before that Tangier Lane, which latter is the official name on the voters’ list. Why “Tangier Lane” it is difficult to say, and just as difficult to say why “Glasses? Lane”. A family named Glass lived in Clonown, whence perhaps the name Glasses’ Lane. A clue to the name Tangier Lane may be that Tangier was part of the dowry of Catherine of Briganza, the wife of Charles II. As it was of no use to theBritish, it was afterwards sold to Spain for a monetary consideration. Athlone was a garrison town and there may have been some connection. The street is of interest, for parallel to it, and perhaps a little to the west of it, the old wall of the town ran from the Dublin Gate to the Shannon. The late Lawrence Kelly of Mardyke Street, a building contractor who died about 1886, was given the contract to remove this portion of the town wall.

DUBLIN GATE STREET: Where the gate on the road towards Dublin opened in the walls;like Irishtown, there is a landmark in the name.

THE BAWN: Another historic name and an appendage to every castle, dun or fort in old Irish times and later in Norman times. It was a cattle enclosure.

CHURCH STREET: Called after St. Mary’s Church of Ireland, which with its graveyard flanks this street on the north. This was a religious foundation even before the Protestant Reformation, and the general tradition is that it was a collegiate church. It probably belonged to the Culdees, though some say it was Cistercian, and others say it was a Dominican foundation.

BARNETT STREET: A continuation of Lloyd?s Lane on to the Shannon. Barnett is perhaps a man’s name. The position of this street is important, for it opens directly on the fordused by the English to crossthe Shannon in the siege of Athlone.

CONVENT LANE: Which opens to the south off Church Street. It is called after the Lloyds of County Roscommon, the landlords of the property. This lane is also sometimes called Ganley’s Lane, from a business owned by a man called Ganley, who lived on the corner of the lane.

STRAND STREET: The street running parallel to the River Shannon and marking, perhaps,how far the river lapped up on this shore before it was confined to its present bounds (in the 1840s).

WOLFE TONE TERRACE: Built by the owners of the Woollen Mills for its workers, and called after the patriot Wolfe Tone. These workers have long ago bought out the houses from the Mills.

CUSTUME PLACE: Called after Sergeant Custume, who in the siege of Athlone in 1690 held the bridge as Horatio did in the brave days of old. It was previously called Victoria Place afterQueen Victoria, but as her love for Ireland was never very great we need not regret the passing of the name.

NORTH GATE STREET: Where the gate on the road towards the north opened in the walls. From this and a few other landmarks we are able to trace the course of the walls. Starting at the Shannon they came up between the site of the burned down WoollenMills and the old Gasworks yard. They crossed the North road, continued along Lucas Lane, around by the back of Court Devenish, where a portion of them still remains and, enclosing the Protestant church, they crossed at Dublin Gate Street, and down to the Shannon again.

COURT DEVENISH is off North Gate Street to the east. It is called after the old castle or keep standing to its north, which was built in 1626 by Richard Devenish and was beseiged and occupied by the Dillons in 1650.

PREACHING LANE ( a name no longer in use) was a continuation of Court Devenish. John Wesley opened a chapel here in 1760. Hence, we surmise, comes the name.

LITTLE HELL: Also no longer used, but well remembered.

PARADISE ROW is a street off Court Devenish.

LUCAS LANE: Called after Dr. Lucas, the founder of The Freeman’s Journal (sic) , and noted Irish patriot. The Freeman’sJournal was founded in about 1750 or 1752. Lucas was imbued with principles of the French Revolution, and was probably the firstto introduce the notion of Republicanism into Irish politics. His name is also commemorated ina plaque on theBank of Ireland House, Pearse Street (Paoli Lucas Wilkes and Liberty.) Paoli was the Corsican patriot, Wilkes the London patriot, and Lucas the Irish patriot.

CENTRAL TERRACE and LEINSTER TERRACE are evidently names of convenience, as is THE VILLAS.

For the origin of this name the opening lines of the immortal Goldsmith may be quoted: Sweet Auburn, lovliest village of the plain etc.

ST.KIERAN’S TERRACE:This was the first venture at building houses by the Athlone Urban Council, back in the year 1905. The terrace is called after the patron saint of the Diocese of Clonmacnoise, St. Kieran.
THE ABBEY ROAD: Called after the old Franciscan Abbey. To call it an “abbey” is scarcely correct, for a Franciscan church or convent was not styled an abbey, yet so it is called and so let it stand.

The date stone on the present bridge bears the following inscription:

V.R.(Victoria Regina [Queen Victoria])
This bridge was erected by the Commissioners for the Improvement ofthe Navigation of the River Shannon
The Right Hon. William Baron Heytesbury, G.C.B., Lord Lieutenant, opened it to the public in 1844.
ThomasRhodes, Chief Engineer;
John McMahon, Contractor.

This bridge replaced the older and more famous bridge of Athlone, the bridge of the siege of 1691, which was built in 1567 by Sir Henry Sidney, The Rev. Peter Lewis(The Rat) and Robert Damport being the contractor and overseer, respectively.

m The Old Bridge of Athlone 1567-1844

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: