Athenry of the Fields

The infamous “Fields of Athenry”

So much has been sung and written about the lush Fields of Athenry.  Of course, Paddy Reilly has fueled many sing-songs (singing sessions) and sporting events, with passion when this song is sung.  It’s often good fun to ask people where they think these fields are while travelling the globe.  I made a sport of it one night in Galway city and not one person (yes they were all visitors but many not from that far afield) knew where Athenry was.  Admittedly Arthur might have slightly dulled their senses.  And many more not only know where it is but can claim to have enjoyed a visit over the years, whether they are history buffs coming to study the castle, walls and many more attractions, or sporting fans making their pilgrimage to Kenny Park to watch ‘the clash of the ash’ (refers to the sport of hurling played with ash sticks) or others who visits for more spiritual reasons to Lady’s Well.

And many more not only know where it is but can claim to have enjoyed a visit over the years, whether they are history buffs coming to study the castle, walls and many more attractions, or sporting fans making their pilgrimage to Kenny Park to watch ‘the clash of the ash’ (refers to the sport of hurling played with ash sticks) or others who visits for more spiritual reasons to Lady’s Well.

And while we’re most fond of “The Fields of Athenry” and will join in when it’s sung, they aren’t such lonely fields anymore.  With plenty of fun and events happening throughout the town over the year you really wouldn’t feel too lonely.  But if you are looking for some peace and quiet you’ll find that too.  The steps opposite the old handball alley is a lovely spot to sit and contemplate life (it’s a personal favourite as the view up the river is divine, in my humble opinion), take a walk or a seat in Lady’s Well with the lovely gardens around or find a nice corner in one of our cosy bars or cafes.  And if you fancy singing a song or two you’ll be very welcome.

This lovely piece was written about the culture and heritage of the Fields of Athenry and it’s community by our own Martin T. Kelly.

The landscape is verdant and flat. Laying on a bed of limestone it is wrinkled only by the winding vestige of the last ice age – the Esker Riada. Lime-fed grass puts strong bone into hunting horses and steeple chasers. A hunting foray with the local foxhounds ‘The Blazers’ over unyielding and over winding stone walls will test the fortitude of the most intrepid rider. The more submissive peatlands to the East and North, rich in heather and birch, is the winter haven of the curlew, woodcock and snipe.

The town of Athenry is an open-air museum. Glimpse of a glorious yet troubled past – may be caught through the slit windows of the Norman Castle or re-echoes of sacred chant imagined in the nave and cloister of the roofless Dominican Priory. The fourteenth century town walls enclose all in a ribbon of stone. Many have come to watch and have remained to live, such is the welcoming ambiance of the place. This is a place for all seasons where life may be lived out at a leisurely pace and where ambitions, however off beat, may be realised.

M.T. Kelly

A photo of the fields of Athenry