Mullingar is the county town of County Westmeath.
The Counties of Meath and Westmeath Act of 1542, proclaimed Westmeath (which then included Longford which separated in 1586) a county, separating it from Meath. Mullingar became the administrative centre for County Westmeath. The town was founded as Maelblatha, and takes its modern name from a mill noted in the legend of Colman of Mullingar.
The town had a tradition of cattle-trading up until 2003, when its cattle market was closed for development of a mixed commercial and residential scheme called the Market Point. Mullingar is famous for the neighbouring lakes, Lough Owel, Lough Ennelland Lough Derravaragh which attract many anglers. Lough Derravaragh is best known for its connection with the Irish legend of the Children of Lir. The town of Mullingar is linked to Lough Ennell via Lacy's Canal and the River Brosna.
One of Mullingar's major exports are items of pewterware produced by the firm of Mullingar Pewter near the town. Genesis fine art is also produced locally and sold worldwide – one of its sculptures of the "Pilgrims" dominates the dispensary house at Austin Friars St where once there was an Augustinian Friary. The town is the largest town in the Irish Midlands. The town, as of 2006, is officially the most populated town in the midlands due in part to its increasing popularity as a commuter town.
Three newspapers serve the community: The Westmeath Topic, The Mullingar Advertiser and The Westmeath Examiner. Mullingar forms part of the Midlands Gateway, in association with Athlone and Tullamore. A statue of Joe Dolan has been erected on market square as a tribute.
It is popularly known as the hometown of Niall Horan from the band One Direction.
Mullingar lies near the national primary route N4, the main Dublin – Sligo road, 79 km (49 miles) from the capital. The N52 also connects Mullingar to the Galway-Dublin M6 motorway. The town is served by Bus Éireann services to Dublin, Athlone (where passengers can catch connecting buses), Sligo, Cavan, Tullamore and Ballina.
The town suffers from heavy afternoon traffic partially caused by a lack of off-street parking problem. The town is bypassed and a ring road has been completed in a bid to further alleviate traffic.
In the 19th century the town was served for a time by the Royal Canal – however displaced first by the railway and then the car, it is no longer commercially used for the transport of goods or people. The town of Mullingar as also linked to Lough Ennell via Lacy's Canal and the river Brosna.
The Midland Great Western Railway line to Mullingar from Dublin opened in stages from 1846 to 1848, arriving in Mullingar on 2 October 1848. This was to a temporary station, adjacent to the greyhound stadium. The original mainline ran from Dublin (Broadstone Station) to Galway via Mullingar and Athlone, the Mullingar to Galway section opening in August 1851. The present station opened with the branch line to Longford on 14 December 1855.
There were two secondary stations in Mullingar, Canal Crossing cattle bank was on the Sligo Line and on the Athlone Line, Newbrook racecourse had its own station. This was unique in that it was a two platformed station with both platforms on the Down Line.
Nowadays, the line northwest to Longford and Sligo is the mainline, Galway is accessed from Heuston Station via Portarlington and the line between Mullingar and Athlone is currently disused. Mullingar station is served by national rail company Iarnród Éireann's Arrow commuter services to Dublin and InterCity trains to/from Sligo.
The Railway Preservation Society of Ireland have a secondary base in the town. There is a photo survey of the disused Athlone.
By car, walking or cycling.
- Lakes. Mullingar's main tourist attractions are its lakes – Lough Owel, Lough Lene and Lough Ennell - which are popular with anglers.
- 1 Belvedere House Gardens and Park (South of Mullingar on the N52), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 9.30am to 6.00pm. Lakeside estate housing a Palladian-style 1700s villa, plus Victorian gardens dotted with follies. Adult €8, children €4, senior citizen/student €6.
- 2 Cathedral of Christ the King Mullingar, Bishop's Gate St. The cathedral of the Diocese of Meath. The Cathedral was dedicated on the day World War II broke out.
- 3 Columb Barracks, Ashe Rd. A major military base in the county housing the 4th Field Artillery Regiment and the HQ of the 54 Reserve Field Artillery Regiment (Army Reserve) formally the FCA (9 FAR).
- Fore Abbey is a ruined Benedictine abbey near Collinstown by Lough Lene, 25 km northeast of Mullingar. It's open all year.
- 1 Mullingar Greyhound Stadium, Lynn Rd. When programmed, greyhound track racing occurs upon the Lynn Greyhound track on Saturday and Sunday evenings. For television broadcasting purposes, races are interlaced with those from Shelbourne Dublin.
- 2 Mullingar Golf Club (South of Mullingar on the N52), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Mullingar golf club also has a proud history and hosts every August bank holiday weekend a leading amateur golf competition, i.e. The Mullingar Scratch Cup. This competition has been won by the likes of Hughie Myres, Des Smyth, Pádraig Harrington, Darren Clarke, Paul McGinley. The 2006 winner is up and coming golfer from Northern Ireland Rory McIlroy. Mullingar player Gerry Purcell is former An Post Golf Society Irish Champion on two occasions.
- Main St. The town has a mix of local retailers and chain stores (Tesco, Dunnes Stores, O2, Penneys, Lidl, SuperValu, Boots, Specsavers, Lifestyle Sports, Butterfly Kisses, Atlantic Homecare, Marks and Spencer and others). The town also has branches of all the major banks - AIB, Bank of Ireland, Halifax, Ulster Bank, National Irish Bank, Permanent TSB - and branches of First Active and EBS building societies. The town also has one of the country's largest credit unions (St Colemans Credit Union).
- Farmers Market. Farmers' Market is held in Mullingar every Sunday and a further small market is run near Penneys/Marks and Spencer by The Green.
- Fairgreen Shopping Centre. A shopping centre anchored by Marks and Spencer and Penneys. Additional tenants at the centre include UK fashion retailer New Look, Dorothy Perkins and Lifestyle Sports.
- 1 Annebrook House Hotel, Austin Friars St, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com.
- 2 Bloomfield House Hotel, Belvedere, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 4-star hotel and spa
- 3 Greville Arms Hotel, Pearse St, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 3-star hotel in the centre of Mullingar
- 4 Mullingar Park Hotel, Dublin Rd, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 4-star hotel on the edge of town
- 5 The Newbury Hotel, Dominick St, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 3-star hotel in the heart of Mullingar