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Westmeath is a county in the province of Leinster that would have been part of the ancient kingdom of Mide. Mide is Irish for middle and it is therefore not surprising to learn that Westmeath is in the central part of Ireland. The county has many attractive towns and villages that are worth a visit, including its largest town Athlone.
There is a good bus and rail network connected to the area and Dublin is just over 100 kilometres away for those travelling by air.
Across Westmeath are a wide selection of hotels, including restored country estates, spa and boutique hotels and low to mid-range accommodation. There is a diverse number of places to stay and most in prime spots to explore the county’s many highlights.
There are many historic highlights located in Westmeath. This includes Fore Abbey, a 10th-century Benedictine monastery located along Fore Valley and near the town of Fore.
There is also Athlone Castle, a popular tourist destination dating back to the 12th century. The castle’s Visitor Centre brings to life over 5,000 years’ worth of history - from neolithic to modern day Ireland. Exhibitions throughout the castle’s museum tell the story of many battles, and go through the lives of monks, kings and soldiers who would have lived in the area all those years ago.
Another to explore in Westmeath is Hill of Uisneach, a huge stone that lies between Mullingar and Athlone. The stone holds great significance as the point at which Ireland’s five ancient provinces would have met. The summit of the hill is 600 feet above sea level and it has been said that on a good day you can see some 20 counties in Ireland, taking in all four existing provinces.
For fans of the outdoors, the beautiful grounds of Belvedere House are well worth a visit when in Westmeath. The estate was built in 1740 and members of the public can roam around the house’s pretty gardens between May and October.
Not forgetting Westmeath’s idyllic lakes and waterways, the county has a wonderful spread of great places by the water to enjoy. This includes opportunities to fish (with a permit) in Lough Ennell, Lough Derravaragh, Lough Owel, Lough Glore and Lough Sheelin.
There is also beautiful Lough Derravaragh near Mullingar. The lough is famous for its mention in The Children of Lir, Ireland’s much-told folklore story.
Westmeath has a wide spread of eateries across its different towns and villages. This could be anything from traditional Irish favourites, seafood, curries, international and vegetarian cuisine.
In Athlone are numerous pubs where traditional Irish music and a few pints are a perfect end to a day of sightseeing.