Autumn retreat puts on spooky show for guests

by Gazette Reporter
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IT could have been a summer’s day as we sat looking out on the Shannon and enjoying lunch at the Quayside Bar and Lounge at the Radisson Blu Athlone, but it was Halloween. It was a fine day for a barbecue on the riverside terrace. The relaxing start belied the excitement we were in for as the day unfolded.
It is a handy journey from Dublin to Athlone by car, out the Galway road, or you can relax on the train, like we did.
From the comfortable and central base, we explored the castle and town. The mighty Shannon divides the town in two, overlooked by the sturdy 13th century castle, which has seen many hard-fought battles to take control of the town.
The visitor centre at Athlone Castle has state-of-the-art interactive experiences, which tell of the gruesome 1691 siege of Athlone. Video, sculpture and artefacts give an impression of how tough those times were.
Macabre tales of bloodbath and massacre felt appropriate for the day that was in it. There are lots of opportunities for visitors to play dress-up (not just at Halloween!), and get to grips with some weaponry of the era. Tickets cost €4 for children, €8 for adults and €20 for a family pass.
Having worked up an appetite at the castle, the delicious dinner at Elements Bistro did not disappoint. The contemporary space with bamboo screens and an interesting octagonal island hearth was an oasis of calm before our spooky evening entertainment.
The hotel played host to mentalist and hypnotist Keith Barry. The Waterford-born showman played to a packed crowd, delighting us with his mind-control tricks and hypnotising willing participants. I was blown away by the vigour with which audience members played their parts while under Barry’s spell.
A woman, who was portraying an aggravated cleaner, was an absolute scream and nearly stole the show. I dare not reveal too much, suffice to say the title Out of Control is not an exaggeration. After a nightcap to settle the nerves, we retired to our spacious accommodation overlooking the river as a heavy fog crept in.
For more information about upcoming shows and deals at the Radisson Blu Athlone visit

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