The town’s army barracks are apparently the oldest continually occupied army barracks in the world. Oliver Cromwell must be involved in this dubious claim to fame - “To Hell or to Connaght ” – move or die.
It was the good land east of the Shannon that Cromwell sold or gave to his cronies in England. The dispossessed, landless Irish were forced to move west (to Connaght), and settle in places like the Burren in County Clare - known “to have not wood enough to hang a man, water enough to drown him, nor earth enough to bury him;” (D.M.R. Esson, The Curse of Cromwell).
My last pint of Guinness on this visit was in Sean’s Pub, confirmed as Ireland’s oldest pub by the Guinness Book of Records – founded in 900 AD. It’s a pretty good pub but to be honest there’s not much of the original pub left, probably just the foundations, still the Guinness was top notch.
Our last excursion from the barge was to the Killbeggen distillery in County Westmeath – created in 1757 and the oldest licensed distillery in Ireland, or maybe in the world, still producing Irish whiskey (note the extra e which distinguishes Irish Whiskey from Scotch whisky). A fascinating visit and some great whiskeys to sample at the end.