Are you looking for an interesting day trip from Dublin? Come visit Mullingar in the Magical Irish Midlands! Getting to Mullingar takes about an hour and a half by bus from central Dublin. However, many of the amazing sites to see in The Midlands are scattered in and around Mullingar and we recommend that you either rent a car or hire a driver to fully enjoy your visit. Here are some of our favorite recommendations:
Visit The Hill of Uisneach
About 20 minutes outside of Mullingar, located on the Athlone Road, you will find The Hill of Uisneach. At Uisneach lies the Catstone, which marks the sacred center of Ireland and from here it is said that the provinces of Ireland were divided. Also at the Catstone the story of how Ireland came to be named Éire in the Irish language comes to life because it is here that in the ancient writings, "Conquests of the Sons of Mil," we find the goddess Ériu meeting the invading Milesians, the modern day Celts, and agreeing to grant them all the land above in exchange for naming the island after her.
The Hill of Uisneach is also famous for the Bealtaine ceremonies around the first of May marking the beginning of the summer season. From the hill, you can identify landmarks in 20 of Ireland's 32 counties.
Be sure to check their website as Uisneach is private property and a working farm. Limited public tours are scheduled although private tours are available by appointment. Once you have learned about the significance of Uisneach to the the ancient Irish, every other ancient site you visit in Ireland will take on new meaning. For any visit to Mullingar, Uisneach tops the list of places to visit.
The Seven Wonders of Fore
The heritage site of Fore Village is reveals many rewards for the people who visit her; from the Stories of the Seven Wonders of Fore to the ancient Benedictine Monastery that will have you walking through its cloisters in the footsteps of the original French speaking monks. French Monks in Westmeath, you ask? Come and walk in their wake and all questions will be answered such as why some locals hadn't much time for the Benedictines, who was St. Feichin of Fore, what's an anchorite in a cell and what are The Seven Wonders of Four.
De Profundis Stone
Ancient Irish custom was to mark the entrance to the graveyard with a prominent marker such as a tree or stone. In Mullingar, County Westmeath, you can see the last remaining De Profundis Stone in Ireland as the others have long since been lost or moved aside.
This particular stone marks the entrance to the Kilbride-Veston graveyard. The funeral procession would pause here and the coffin would rest on the stone while Psalm 129 was recited. Then, new pall bearers would carry the deceased into the cemetery and to the grave.
The Longest Bridge in Ireland
Yes, there really is such a thing as the longest bridge in Ireland and you can find it near Mullingar. The Joe Dolan Bridge is named after the famous Irish singer who was born in Mullingar and there are also a few ringforts visible from the bridge. . In downtown Mullingar, you can find Joe Dolan's statue in the town square.
Actually, Loughcrew is in County Meath and we recommend that you visit the Cairns first on your way into Mullingar in order to avoid excess driving on your day trip away from Dublin.
Loughcrew lies along three ridges known as the "Witches Hops." We walk to the central summit to explore Cairn T, the largest of the passage tombs. As seen from Uisneach, Cairn T will align with the midsummer sunrise.
Extending the same radial line from Uisneach another 65 kilometres, we would be inline with Slieve Gullion in County Armagh which connects sacred Uisneach with both Leinster and Ulster. The midwinter sunset also aligns, reversed back through Uisneach completing the 180 degree cycle from midsummer sunrise to midwinter sunset.
Discover a Sheela na Gig
Once quite numerous on church buildings, a sheela na gig is a carving of a female exposing exaggerated genitalia. There are very few of these stone carvings left outside of museums, so this is worth a stop while you are in the Mullingar area.
Belvedere House and Gardens
Belvedere House and the surrounding gardens could easily consume a half a day or even an entire day. But you can still get a good feel for the place during a short day trip by visiting the mansion, the jealous wall, and perhaps a walk through the gardens.
Mullingar Pubs and Eats
At the center of town you will find Canton and Casey's. Remember Joe Dolan? Well, his statue sits right out in front of the pub in the town square and it makes a great spot for that selfie and Facebook check-ins.
Are you hungry for a steak? Check out Miller and Cook directly across the street from Canton and Casey. Before you leave, be sure to grab some delicious bakery items to bring back to your hotel for that late night snack!
Looking for something upscale, cozy, and perhaps with a nice wine selection? Then in this case, we recommend you try Dominiks. Here you will find a selection of traditional, as well as seasonal and local selections to satisfy your dining pleasure.
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