Mullingar“An Muileann gCearr” means the wry mill or the left wise moving mill. The name derives from the 7th century legend of St. Colman of Lynn. A miller refused to grind Colman’s barley because he was already grinding the King’s wheat. Colman caused the mill to move anti-clockwise, and so both the King’s wheat and Colman’s barley were ground. It is the only town in the world to be named after a miracle. Mullingar became an important town when some years after the Anglo-Norman invasion, the Petit family established a manor in the town, and subsequently a corporation was established. The ancient corporation seal (unearthed in 1880) is still in use today. Mullingar, the county town and administrative headquarters of Westmeath is one of the larger population centres in the
midland region. Within an hour’s drive of Dublin, Mullingar lies in one of the most scenic parts of the country, surrounded by rolling pastures and interrupted only by coniferous forests and some of the most beautiful lakes in Ireland earning Mullingar the title of “The Capital of the Lakelands”. For those interested in leisure pursuits, Mullingar has a lot to offer. The town is associated with some of the best known trout waters in Ireland - Loughs Ennell, Owel, Derravaragh and Erne. In 1894, Mr. William Meares caught a prize winning 26lb. 2oz. brown trout in Lough Ennell still recorded in “The Guinness Book of Records” as the largest brown trout caught in Ireland and is on display at Belvedere House Gardens and Park. Also available to the keen angler is some of the best coarse angling in
the country. Fly fishing for trout can be worthwhile, especially during the Mayfly hatch. Bathing, boating and fishing are the obvious things to do at Lough Derravaragh. Other leisure facilities include an 18 hole Championship Golf Course and two excellent Fáilte Ireland approved equestrian centres. Additional recreational activities available include water sports such as sailing and windsurfing. Mullingar is the ideal base from which to tour the midlands. In addition to its lakeland districts, the fine heritage of Mullingar and its hinterland is acknowledged as one of the region’s best tourism assets. There is a variety of places to visit including, museums, monastic settlements, great houses as well as sites of historical and archaeological interest.
Towns of Westmeath
Crookedwood is a picturesque village with good quality accommodation and restaurants, located beside Lough Derravaragh. This lake is associated with the most tragic of all Irish legends - the fate of the "Children of Lir", who were changed into swans by their jealous stepmother and were to spend three hundred, of their nine hundred years, on the waters of Lough Derravaragh. The well preserved fortified Saint Munna's Church is located near the village of Crookedwood. It was built in the 15th century on the site of a monastery founded by Saint Munna in the 7th century.
Delvin is steeped in history with a motte at the southern end of the village built by Hugh de Lacy in 1181. Close to the motte are the ruins of a thirteenth century castle built by the Nugents, Earls of Westmeath. Nearby Clonyn Castle, which is still inhabited, was one of the last Victorian baronial castles to be built in Ireland. Delvin Castle golf club is in the grounds of Clonyn Castle.
Fore - A small, hidden valley between green hills and grey cliffs, Fore is rich in ancient ruins and the centre of a wonderful 'Fore Trail' which explores the valley itself and the surrounding country. The Fore Heritage Centre provides information and light meals. The valley of Fore is a place of rare beauty and tranquility. A church, a post-office, a coffee shop and a few houses constitute its buildings. A great ruined 13th century
Benedictine Priory on the floor of the valley, a holy well and a scattering of small stone buildings on the hillside are the reminders of its past inhabitants.
Ballykeeran derives its name from St. Ciaran who founded a monastery on Hare Island before founding Clonmacnoise. Nearby Friars Island is linked to the mainland by a narrow causeway. Visitors have a choice of taking the "high" or "low" road to Glasson. The low road follows the line of the inner lakes and affords the visitor access to the water at Wineport and Portaneena. From the picnic area on the high road one can enjoy breath taking panoramic views of Lough Ree and the Inner Lakes.
Castletown Geoghegan is named after the McGeoghan family who were extensive landowners, dispossessed during the time of Cromwell. A motte in the village dates from Norman times while a boulder at the south east of the village is reputed to be the inauguration site of the MacGeoghegans. Activities close-by include an 18-hole par 3 golf course and an outdoor adventure centre.
Castlepollard is a most delightful place, full of old-world charm with its neat 19th century houses and dignified churches surrounding the village green. It lies in the centre of a wonderful region of lakes, great houses and ancient monasteries and monuments. In the renovated old National School, the Local Museum contains 3,500 artefacts of household and agricultural
interest. There is a growing collection of larger farm machinery such as carts, rakes and threshers. Items on display range from a 1940s operating table to a collection of 1,600 bottles. On the village green is a sculpture commemorating the four Children of Lir. They are commemorated also in a stained glass window in the friary church in Multyfarnham. Both the churches in Castlepollard were built early in the 19th century and both are dedicated to St. Michael. Castlepollard is one of the top centres for angling in the midlands. Within very easy reach are Lough Derravaragh, Lough Lene - which also has a Blue Flag beach, White Lake, Lough Glore and several others. Boats are available in Lough Derravaragh.
Kilbeggan - The home of the oldest Irish distillery at the centre of Kilbeggan for nearly 250 years has been the distillery, now a fascinating theme park. The other great attraction at Kilbeggan is its evening race meetings. The first appearance of Kilbeggan in history being the foundation of a monastery in the 6th century by a saint named Becan.
Clonmellon is an enchanting old world village on the Westmeath/Meath border. Situated to the east of the village are the ruins of Killua Castle, built in 1780. Close by is a monument commemorating the introduction of the potato into Ireland by Sir Walter Raleigh.
Collinstown is a picturesque village overlooking Lough Lene. The part of the lake known as "the cut" has a slipway, picnic area, toilets and car park. It has been awarded the blue flag. The numerous ring forts in the locality suggest that Collinstown has been inhabited from stone-age times.
Coole is a quaint village located 5km from Castlepollard. The church dates back to 1841 and was endowed by the Dease family who live nearby at Turbotstown House. An amenity area developed on the shore of Lough Derravaragh includes picnic facilities as well as boat mooring/launching facilities.
Ballynacargy is an attractive village located on the Royal Canal between Longford and Mullingar. Approximately 5 km from the village on the Rathowen Road is the Church of Ireland at Kilbixy. Called after St Bigseach, this has been a site of worship since Celtic church times. In the grounds are the remains of a three story building traditionally thought to be that of a leper hospital built by Hugh de Lacy. There is also a magnificent chestnut tree that is conceivably the largest of its kind in Ireland thought to be three hundred years old. Close by on the shores of Lough Iron lies the ruins of Tristernagh Abbey, formerly inhabited by Augustinian Friars. A relic known as a "corpnu" which was kept by the monks was recovered here and is on display at the National Museum in Dublin.
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Athlone, an ideal regional centre standing on the boundaries of two counties namely Westmeath and Roscommon. It is an historic town because of its strategic location and is commonly referred to as "the gateway to the west". An ideal place for touring or based holidays this busy and prosperous town has a wide range of tourist attractions, top class accommodation and excellent restaurants each with its own distinctive character catering for all the family. Athlone is proud to be the centre of Shannon Cruising and its hire boats for tourists on the Shannon. Day trips are also available. Other activities in the area include walking, angling, cycling and golf. Athlone also boasts excellent shopping facilities and numerous festivals and events throughout the season. The N62 south of Athlone leads to Clonmacnoise.Ballinagore is a charming little village with a rich tradition in milling. Linen, flour and ground corn was produced here from the early 18th century. Most of the buildings were demolished and today the only remaining landmark is the lower Mill that overlooks the River Brosna. It is said that Ballinagore was one of the first villages in Ireland to have gas lighting.
Killucan built near the Royal Canal derives its name from an Abbey founded by St.
Liúcan around the 6th century. Features of this village include a collection of wayside crosses that date back to the 16th and 17th centuries and St. Etchens Church dating from the 13th century.
Moate - Space is what everyone associates with Moate, its main street being one of the widest in the country. A busy village and a great centre for traditional culture. The village owes its name to the great grassy mound. A particularly fine 'motte', the foundation of the first type of fortress to be used by the invading Anglo-Normans in the 12th century. In the 17th century Quakers settled in Moate and brought prosperity to the region by introducing small industries.
Kinnegad - now off main motorway still served by main coach services. Dining facilities and shopping available. The fine alter in the RC Church was built by Willie Pearse (a brother of P.H. Pearse) a signatory to the 1916 Declaration of Irish Independence. Kinnegad is only 5km from the famous monastic site at Clonard.
Multyfarnham - A delightful old-world village. Multyfarnham's greatest claim to fame is its Franciscan friary, founded 776 years ago and still providing its visitors with
a quiet retreat. In 1839 a new friary was built, centred on the ruins of the ancient church with its ancient tower. Two features make Multyfarnham Friary a very special place. The first is the beautiful, secluded garden. The second is the brilliant modern stained glass by Richard King. Its central figures are four swans, with silver chains around their necks. The village to-day provides self-catering holiday cottages, good food and drink, with
music in some of the pubs.
Streete in pre-celtic times was the home of a tribe named the Breacaighe, hence the name Straid Mighe Breachaighe. The Church is a prominent feature of the village. Brega is a pretty kingdom in early Irish history.
Rathowen - Legend holds that Rathowen or Fort of Eoghain commemorates the 15th century battle camp of the Ulster King Eoghain O'Neill during his campaign against the Normans. A newly developed trail affords nature lovers a rare opportunity to stroll through the fascinating landscape of one of Westmeath's last remaining bogs.
Finea - The picturesque village of Finea is located on the river Inny. The area between Finea and Castlepollard is a must for the nature lover. 7km from Finea, Mullaghmeen
State Forest offers picnickers a shady haven in which to feast and provides the more energetic with scenic walks of varying length. Nearby Lough Sheelin is a famous brown trout lake and Lough Kinale yielded up a historic jewelled book shrine.
Glasson - The 'Village of the Roses', Glasson is one of those places that seems to have it all: the historic homeland of Oliver Goldsmith, adjacent to one of Ireland's most beautiful lakes, a centre for boating, fishing, walking - and eating and sleeping in the greatest of comfort. It is reputed to be the Sweet Auburn of Goldsmith’s poems.
Tyrrellspass has been the recipient of a National Tidy Towns award and the prestigious European Architectural Heritage Award. It is a model village laid out by Jane, Countess of Belvedere in the early 19th century. The village takes its name from Sir Richard Tyrrell, who led a small Irish force, which annihilated a large Elizabethan army at a pass north of the village in 1597. Located on the green is a charming sculpture of three small children erected in 1970. Today Tyrrellspass boasts some good quality accommodation, restaurants and pubs as well as a castle.