01 Mar County Westmeath
You may come across County Westmeath on your Ireland tours.
It is an inland county in the province of Leinster.
The county has an area of 710 square miles and a population of approx 75,000.
The old royal kingdom of Mide became part of the “de Lacy” earldom of Meath during the twelfth and thirteenth century Anglo-Norman Conquest of Ireland.
In the sixteenth century , Meath was sub-divided into East Meath and West Meath , the latter retaining its name , while the former is now simply County Meath.
Westmeath is a gentle , pastoral county with livestock and dairy farming the principal economy.
The county capital , Mullingar , has a population of around twelve thousand.
Athlone , on the River Shannon , is a larger town with an urban district council and a rich history. It was besieged more than three times during the course of the seventeenth century. Most famously in June 1690 when Williamite forces overcame the Jacobites in what was the largest bombardment in Irish history.
Athlone is also the birthplace of renowned tenor “John McCormack” and the novelist “John Broderick”.
The center of ancient Ireland was at Uisneach , east of Ballymore.
The county is now bisected by the early-nineteenth century Royal Canal , which connects the Shannon with Dublin city.
Eskers , worm-like earthworks formed by glaciers millions of years ago , are found throughout the county.
Fore is famous for its Seven Wonders :
1. monastery in a bog ; 2. the mill without a race ; 3. the water that flows uphill ; 4. the tree that won’t burn ; 5. the water that won’t boil ; 6. the anchorite in a stone ; 7. the stone raised by St. Feichin’s prayer
Other attractions in the county include Belvedere House , a mansion dating from the mid-eighteenth century, and Ballinlough Gardens.
Tullynally Castle is the home of the Pakenham family , earls of Longford. ( Edward Pakenham , Lord Longford , was a playwright and director of the Gate Theatre )
The novelist J.P. Donleavy has lived in the county for many years.
A hidden gem of a county on tours of Ireland.