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Touring Westmeath

Lough Ree by Juergen Meuer courtesy Geograph Ireland Royal canal at Baltrasna by JP courtesy Geograph Ireland Westmeath is bordered by Lough Ree in the west and Lough Sheelin in the north-east. To the south lies the Royal Canal. Lakes, rivers, and pastureland are geographic features influencing the activities of the county.

Athlone by Mike Searle courtesy Geograph Ireland Athlone Castle by Mike Searle courtesy Geograph Ireland Athlone, in western Westmeath, is a large town on the river Shannon. The historic and busy town is called the gateway to the west. Day trips on the river are offered. Athlone Castle, in the town centre opposite St Peterís church, has an AV presentation on the Siege of Athlone and history, folk and military museums as well as a TIC and tea-room. The curtain wall and three towers date from the late 13th century. Nearby Moydrum castle, completed in 1814 in the mock Gothic style, is now in ruins, having been burned by Irish republican forces in 1921.

Ballykeeran Bay by Alan Murray-Rust courtesy Geograph Ireland Ballymore by Sarah777 courtesy Geograph Ireland At Ballykeeran near Athlone is a viewpoint overlooking Lough Ree. North-east of Athlone the village of Ballymore is ringed with the remains of castles, convents, and monasteries. In 1691 Ballymore was the site of a battle between the Jacobite and Williamite armies. South-east of Athlone, Moateís Museum has 1000 artefacts on the folk history of the town. The town has a three story 16th century Ďcastleí. On the edge of Moate, Dun Na Si Heritage Centre and Park presents traditional music in its folk park.

Tyrrellspass village green and church by Brian Shaw courtesy Geograph Ireland Tyrrellspass castle by Brian Shaw courtesy Geograph Ireland Tyrrellspass, located on the main DublinĖGalway Road (N6) in south Westmeath is the winner of a National Tidy Towns award and a European Architectural Heritage Award. The model village was laid out by Jane, Countess of Belvedere, in the early 19th century. The village green, spired church, and Tyrrellspass Castle, in which is a museum, are town attractions.

Ballynacargy royal canal lock by JP courtesy Geograph Ireland Ballynacargy is an attractive village located on the Royal Canal between Longford and Mullingar. Approximately three miles from the village on the Rathowen road is a church of Ireland on the site of the former town of Kilbixy. Called after St Brigseach or Little Brigid, this has been a site of worship since Celtic times. In the grounds are the remains of a three-story building thought to be that of a leper hospital built by Hugh de Lacy and a large chestnut tree approximately 300 years old. Close by, on the shores of 2.5 mile long Lough Iron are the ruins of 13th century Augustinian Tristernagh Abbey.

Mullingar cathedral church of Christ the King by Brian Shaw courtesy Geograph Ireland Mullingar old gatehouse by Dylan Moore courtesy Geograph Ireland The county town of Mullingar, in eastern Westmeath, is a cathedral town and agricultural market. It is located by the Royal Canal on the river Brosnaís west bank. Christ the King cathedral (1939) has twin towers and a museum with ecclesiastical artefacts. The local history museum is housed in an 18th century market house. Much coarse fishing is available in this area of the county. Six miles from the town is the site of Uisneagh, seat of the high king of Ireland.

Belvedere House by Mike Searle courtesy Geograph Ireland Belvedere House grounds by Mike Searle courtesy Geograph Ireland Belvedere House, Garden and Park, on the eastern shores of Lough Ennell four miles from Mullingar, is an 18th century villa showing upstairs/downstairs life of the times. The interior has carved chimney pieces and plasterwork ceilings. There are exhibits in the stables. The gardens include a walled garden, terraces, a woodland walk, a gazebo, bridges, and an ice house.

Carrick castle by Mike Searle courtesy Geograph Ireland  Reynella ringfort by Kieran Campbell courtesy Geograph Ireland Ruined Carrick castle is a round cornered two storey tower with enlarged 18th century windows. Itís just off the N4 20 km north-west of Mullingar. Reynella ringfort lies in a field by the N52 Delvin to Mullingar road. Itís a circular earthwork dating from early Christianity in Ireland

Delvin castle by Brian Shaw courtesy Geograph Ireland Martinstown castle by Mike Searle courtesy Geograph Ireland Moving eastward, Delvin is home to 13th century castle ruins and a motte at the southern end of the village. South-east of Delvin follow a dead end road to a field where the ruins of Martinstown castle can be found. Itís a three storey tower house sitting on a time worn foundation.

Killucan royal canal lock no 19 by JP courtesy Geograph Ireland Killucan, on the Royal Canal offers barge holidays, 13th century St. Etchens Church, and a collection of 16-17th century wayside crosses. Clonmellon is an old world village on the Westmeath/Meath border north-east of Mullingar. The Ballinlough Castle (17th century) Gardens are just south of the village in Meath. East of the village are the ruins of Kilua Castle, built in 1780, and reputed to be the birthplace of Laurence of Arabia. Also here is a monument commemorating the introduction of the potato into Ireland by Sir Walter Raleigh.

Castlepollard, in the north-east area of Westmeath, is the site of the early 18th century Lough Park House. Castlepollardís local museum has 3500 artefacts of household and agricultural interest. Near Castlepollard at Coole is Turbotstown House, a Georgian mansion. Tullynally Castle and Gardens, also close to Castlepollard, is one of Irelandís largest family homes. Inside is a great hall with a vaulted ceiling, a library, a drawing room, and family portraits. Downstairs life is shown in the Victorian service wing with its kitchen, laundry, ironing and drying rooms, and boiler room. The gardens include a woodland garden, flower garden, kitchen garden, grotto, and forest walk.

Fore abbey by Hugh Chevallier courtesy Geograph Ireland Three miles from Castlepollard, Fore is the location of St Fechinís monastic site dating back to the 7th century. At the site are the ruins of a 9th century church and St Fechinís well. Across the valley are remains of a 13th century church, chapter house, 15th century arcade, refectory, kitchen, and two towers. The 13th century abbey (St Fechin) was sited on an island surrounded by a marsh.

Collinstown by Sarah777 courtesy Geograph Ireland Lough Lene by Hugh Chevallier courtesy Geograph Ireland Collinstown is an attractive village overlooking Lough Lene. A number of ring forts are in the countryside. Rathowen, in the north-west of the county, is home to Georgian Rockfield House and Gardens with crafts and organic food at the old mill, garden and woods, and farm animals.

Finea town by Sarah777 courtesy Geograph Ireland Near the county border in the north, the village of Finea has Lough Sheelin as its close neighbour. The Rock of Curry is a limestone outcrop, home to wild goats. Nearby 1000-acre Mullaghmeen State Forest leads to the highest point in Westmeath.

Westmeath Attractions

Athlone Castle
Athlone
Tel. 090 647 2107 or 090 649 2912

An Dun Transport and Heritage Museum
Doon, Ballinahown
Tel. 0 902 30106

Belvedere House, Garden and Park
On the N52 three miles from Mullingar
Tel. 044 49060
Web: Belvedere House

Carrick Castle
just off the N4 20 km north-west of Mullingar, Westmeath

Castlepollard Museum
Castlepollard
Tel. 044 61555 or 044 66168

Christ the King Cathedral
Mary St, Mullingar
Tel. 044 48338 or 044 48402

Delvin Castle
Delvin

Dun Na Si Heritage Centre and Park
Moate
Tel. 090 6481183

Fore Abbey
Fore
Tel. 044 48650

Gleendeer Pet Farm
Curryroe, Drum, Athlone
Tel. 090 643 7147
Web: Gleendeer Pet Farm

Kilua Castle
East of Clonmellon

Lough Park House
Castlepollard
Tel. 044 61226

Lough Ree

Martinstown castle
South-east of Delvin in field off dead end road, Westmeath

Moate Museum
Main St, Moate
Tel. 090 648 2167 or 090 648 1209

Mullaghmeen State Forest
Near village of Finea

Reynella ringfort
In a field by the N52 Delvin to Mullingar road, Westmeath

Rockfield House and Gardens
Rathowen
Tel. 043 76024 or 087 9693055

St Fechinís monastic site
Fore

Tristernagh Abbey
On shores of Lough Iron near Ballynacargy
13th century ruins of Augustinian abbey

Tullynally Castle Gardens
Tullynally, near Castlepollard
Tel. 044 61159
Web: Tullynally Castle

Turbotstown House
Coole near Castlepollard
Tel. 044 61211

Tyrrellspass Castle and Museum
Tyrrellspass
Tel. 044 23105

County Westmeath Tourist Information Centres

Athlone Tourist Information Office (seasonal)
Athlone Castle
Athlone, County Westmeath
Tel. 0 90 6494630

Mullingar Tourist Information (year round)
Mullingar, County Westmeath
Tel. 0 44 48650

Official Websites

Westmeath County Council
Westmeath Tourism
Athlone Town Council

Photos courtesy Geograph Britain and Ireland as follows:
Lough Ree by Juergen Meuer; Royal canal at Baltrasna, Ballynacargy royal canal lock by JP, Killucan royal canal lock no 19; Ballykerran Bay by Alan Murray-Rust; Ballymore, Collinstown, Finea town by Sarah777; Tyrrellspass village green and church, Tyrrell castle, Mullingar cathedral church of Christ the King, Delvin castle by Brian Shaw; Mullingar old gatehouse by Dylan Moore; Reynella ringfort by Kieran Campbell; Fore abbey, Lough Lene by Hugh Chevallier; Athlone, Athlone Castle, Belvedere House, Belvedere House grounds, Carrick castle, Martinstown castle by Mike Searle

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