Athy or Baile Átha Í is named after a 2nd-century Celtic chieftain, Ae, who is said to have been killed on the river crossing, thus giving the town its name "the town of Ae's ford"
According to Elizabethan historian William Camden, Ptolemy's map of Ireland circa 150 AD names the Rheban district along the River Barrow as Ῥαίβα. Modern cartography, however, dismisses the claim by using triangulation and flocking algorithms. This method establishes that Ptolemy's Ῥαίβα was actually located at Rathcroghan, the traditional capital of the Connachta.
A castle existed at Rheban from the Norman period onward.
The remains of a much older ringfort, known as the Moat of Rheban, lie about 1 km to the south of the castle.
The town of Athy was part of the initial settlements of the Anglo-Normans in Ireland. In 1175 the area of Le Norrath was granted to Robert FitzRichard by Richard de Clare. By 1181 Anglo-Norman lords had settled the lands around the town. These included Robert St.Michel who was granted lands in Rheban and Thomas Le Flemming at Ardreigh.
Athy remained an important stronghold on the local estates of the FitzGerald earls of Kildare, who built and owned the town for centuries.
Athy Priory, a Dominican monastery, was founded in 1253.
The Marriage of Strongbow (Richard de Clare) and Aoife by Daniel Maclise
The Confederate Wars of the 1640s were played out in many arenas throughout Ireland and Athy – for a period of eight years – was one of the centres of war involving the Royalists, Parliamentarians and the Confederates. The town was bombarded by cannon fire many times and the Dominican Monastery, the local castles and the town's bridge (dating from 1417) all succumbed to the destructive forces of the cannonball. The current bridge, the Crom-a-Boo Bridge, was built in 1796.
The first town charter dates from 1515 and the town hall was constructed in the early 18th century. The completion of the Grand Canal in 1791, linking here with the River Barrow, and the arrival of the railway in 1846, illustrate the importance of the town as a commercial centre. From early on in its history Athy was a garrison town loyal to the Crown. English garrisons stayed in the barracks in Barrack Lane after the Crimean War and contributed greatly to the town's commerce. Home for centuries to English soldiers, Athy gave more volunteer soldiers to the Great War of 1914–18 than any other town of similar size in Ireland.
You will have many opportunities along the route for photographs. Your skipper and crew will give you an insightful view into life and history of the Barrow Navigation.
With any tour we are flexible to your requirements in advance of tour. We can offer the option of walking back to Athy on the beautiful Barrow Navigation towpath.
To personalise your trip please contact Athy Boat Tours 087 4335350.
We reserve the right to refuse to allow any person on board the boat under the influence of excess alcohol.
Picnic baskets can be included on your request for an extra €10 per person