Self Sufficient People

Written by castle-keep on 14th August 2015

Benefiting from a collection of objects dontated by The Old Athlone Society, the Lower Keep houses a rich array of items relating to the various trades and lifestyles that were prominent in Athlone right up to the twentieth century. Athlonians recount in their own words memories and stories of these times.

Until the twentieth century the people of Athlone and its environs were largely self sufficient.
Their needs were mostly simple, and for centuries much of their food, drink, footwear, clothing, fuel, furniture, horse harness, carts, boats, tools and pipes were
produced locally by manual labour. Even goods that were brought in, such as pharmaceutical products and clocks, were often partly processed in the town. Locally
based professionals and craftsmen met the need for services. From the mid-nineteenth century local production gradually declined. This occurred because of the import of mass produced
factory goods via the inland waterways, railways and eventually asphalt roads. However, the old ways died out only slowly, and servicing and repairing the new mechanical products required the development of new skills. Athlone played its own part in the industrialization process through the establishment of textile and furniture factories, and through its role as a transport hub. In the countryside the big houses declined as land ownership passed to the tenant farmers.