Westmeath Landmarks

Dun na Sí Heritage Centre

Set in a stunning 27 acre parkland nestling in the heart of Ireland, Dún na Sí Amenity and Heritage Park boasts an exciting range of recreational, educational, environmental, cultural and historical activities.

The original Dún na Sí Centre opened in 1985 and operated successfully over the years. Midlands Amenity Park Association commenced work on a 23 acre park adjoining Dún na Sí in 2008. Both groups have worked tirelessly to create what is now Dún na Sí Amenity and Heritage Park. The two groups officially merged in 2015. The newly amalgamated parks were officially opened in 2015 by Robbie Henshaw and Senator Labhrás Ó Murchú.

The park comprises of the Scéal Exhibition in the Comhaltas Teach Cheoil, Heritage Trail and Vintage Museum, Pet Farm, Walking Trails, Native Irish Woodland, Turlough, Playground and Tea Rooms.

Trace your Westmeath Roots in the Genealogy Centre.

Explore reconstructed historical sites depicting life in Ancient Ireland in the Heritage Park.

 

Tullynally Castle and Gardens

The castle dates back over 350 years. The Pakenham’s (later Earl’s of Longford) settled here in the 17th century and three generations still live here as their family home. The layout of the gardens and magnificent parkland date mainly from the early 1800’s, but the present owners, Thomas and Valerie Pakenham have added many new features. Take the main path to the walled Flower Garden and visit the llamas and the stone
“Nandi” (sacred Indian bulls) next door or take the path to the Grotto with fantastic carvings by a local artist. Or follow the Forest Walk to the Chinese garden and onto the Lower Lake.

After exploring the gardens, we suggest you return to the sunny Tearoom in the Castle Courtyard which offers teas, coffee and delicious homemade food throughout the day.

 

Athlone Castle Visitor Center

carousel castle keep Ross

This 12th-century stone castle was built for King John by Bishop John de Gray of Norwich, designed to defend the crossing point of the river of Athlone.

Step back in time and discover the history of Athlone through a series of interactive and audio visual exhibitions. The friendly staff and volunteers will be on hand to guide you as you explore our handling collection and take photos dressed in our period costumes.

Explore the coveted artifacts and learn about the first 400 years of the castle or follow the striking illustrations by Victor Ambrus before you experience the intensity of the 1691 battle in a 360° cinematic experience.

You can also enjoy the wonderful voice of John Count McCormack in an exhibition dedicated to the memory of our world-famous tenor, as you explore the military, social and industrial history of Athlone.

This newly renovated tourist attraction is the perfect stop off point in the heart of the Lakeland’s Region of Ireland enroute to The Wild Atlantic Way.

Athlone Castle Visitor Centre is waiting for you to explore, engage and enjoy!

 

Fore Abbey

In a tranquil, green valley in the village of Fore, about a 30-minute drive from Mullingar in County Westmeath, visitors can view the site where St Fechin founded a Christian monastery in the 7th Century. Among the remains, visitors can see St Fechin’s church, built about 900 AD. They will also find one of the 18 Fore crosses, which are spread out over 10 km in the countryside.

Fore, Fobhar is the anglicised version of the Irish name that signifies “the town of the water-springs” and was given to the area after Saint Feichin’s spring or well, which is next to the old church a short distance from where the ruined monastery still stands. Between 771 and 1169 Fore Abbey was burnt 12 times by pillaging invaders, such as the Turgesius led Vikings.

The Seven Wonders of Fore include:

  1. The monastery built upon the bog
  2. The mill without a race (St. Fechin reportedly induced water to flow from the ground and operate a mill that had no visible water supply – in reality water from Lough Lene flows through the ground)
  3. The water that flows uphill. (St. Fechin reportedly used his staff to make the water flow uphill)
  4. The tree that has three branches/the tree that won’t burn. Pilgrims place coins in it, giving it the name “the copper tree”
  5. The water that doesn’t boil in St Fechin’s holy well
  6. The anchorite in a cell
  7. The lintel-stone raised by St. Fechin’s prayers

 

The Hill of Uisneach

The Hill of Uisneach in County Westmeath is one of Ireland’s most treasured and most mysterious historical attractions. Situated between the villages of Ballymore and Loughnavally, it was the ancient seat of the Kings of Meath; its historical roots go back to the La Tene period of the Iron Age.

Uisneach has also been famous as a prehistoric meeting place for cattle rituals and other May Day assemblies, while in more recent times it was the meeting place for an important 12th-century synod. Both Saint Patrick and Saint Brigid, patron saints of Ireland, have important connections with the Hill of Uisneach—legend has it that Saint Brigid received the veil from Saint Patrick at this very spot.

The importance of the Hill of Uisneach as a prehistoric meeting place is reflected in the large number of monuments (almost 20) that are scattered around. Around and on top of the hill are the remains of circular enclosures, barrows, cairns, a holy well and two ancient roads, ring forts and tumuli. The most famous feature of this series is the Cat Stone of the Hill of Uisneach—so named because it resembles a cat watching a mouse. The huge limestone boulder measures almost six metres high and is estimated to weigh over 30 ton—it’s said to mark the centre of Ireland and the coming together of the provinces.

Although just 182 metres above sea level, the summit of Uisneach provides panoramic views over the central plain; numerous counties are visible on the horizon. In more recent years Hill of Uisneach became a site of political rallies, with Daniel O’Connell, Éamon de Valera and Padraig Pearse addressing the Irish public—Irish writer James Joyce was also a regular visitor.

Visit the Hill of Uisneach to take a fascinating journey into the spiritual past of ancient Ireland.

 

Belvedere House Gardens and Park

Belvedere House and Gardens is an 18th-century hunting lodge in County Westmeath, designed by renowned Palladian architect Richard Cassels. Thousands of visitors from Ireland and beyond visit Belvedere House and Gardens annually to tour the house, view the magnificent gardens and enjoy lakeshore walks.

Built in 1740 for Robert Rochfort, the first Earl of Belvedere, the estate remains an architectural landmark and has been fully restored. The estate’s landscaped demesne features one of the largest and most beautiful garden follies in the country, the Jealous Wall, built to block the Earl’s view of his estranged brother’s neighbouring estate. This artificial ruin is built in the form of the remains of a sprawling Gothic castle and creates a romantic silhouette against the skyline.

The Victorian walled garden at Belvedere House was designed in 1857 by Ninian Niven, curator of the Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin, and contains one of Ireland’s finest collections of rare and special plants. The Belvedere stable block is home to a modern visitor centre with a fully licensed café, the Catoca Courtyard Café.

Visitors looking for outdoor activities at Belvedere House and Gardens will be spoiled for choice. 160 acres of parkland await, along with 6 km of magnificent woodland and lakeshore walks. Close to the Belvedere Visitor Centre are two children’s play areas including one called the Narnia Trail; a third is located at the lakeshore, where, if they dare, visitors can take a zip-line through the forest.

Belvedere is open all year round with a full calendar of events; the summer season sees the estate play host to a series of weekend music events like Life Festival, as well as garden theatre performances.

 

Cathedral Of Christ The King

Constructed in the form of a basilica, The Cathedral of Christ the King in Mulligar, County Westmeath has twin towers and a dome. The cathedral, which boasts a beautiful modernised Renaissance style, opened in 1936 and is the seat of the Bishop of Meath.

Inside, visitors can pass through a museum that contains many historical artifacts and models of the area’s church buildings from the 17th Century to the present day.

The Cathedral also has strong links with the Camino de Santiago. In medieval times monks from Mullingar walked the ancient Spanish trail called the “camino” – a distance of 800 km.  A statute on Austin Friar St in Mullingar shows the Augustinian monks wearing the scallop shells which pilgrims on the Way of St James have worn since medieval times.

 

 

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