Mullingar (An Muileann gCearr in Irish, meaning "the left-handed, or wry, mill") is the administrative centre of County Westmeath, Ireland and the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Meath. Local government affairs are administered for the county from the town and county council buildings.


From the year 1542, Henry VIII of England made Westmeath a county, separating Eastmeath from Westmeath, and thus distinguishing the two counties. Mullingar became the administrative centre for County Westmeath.

The town was originally named Maelblatha, and takes its modern name from a mill noted in the legend of Colman of Mullingar.

Mullingar now possesses amenities such as libraries, secondary schools, gymnasiums, snooker halls, internet-cafes, an Arts Centre, and railway station. The town had a tradition of cattle-trading up until 2003, when its cattle market was finally closed for development of a mixed commercial and residential scheme called the Market Point.

Mullingar is famous for the neighbouring lakes, Lough Owel and Lough Ennell, which attract many anglers, as well as Lough Derravaragh. Lough Derravaragh is best known for its connection with the Irish legend of the Children of Lir. Having being turned into swans, the four children of King Lir spent three hundred years on Lough Derravaragh before moving to other locations around Ireland. Lough Lene has a reputation for its clear water, historic ringforts, and wind-surfing.

In recent times one of Mullingar's major exports has become the items of pewterware produced by the firm of Mullingar Pewter located near the town. Genesis fine art is also produced locally and sold worldwide - one of its sculpures of the "Pilgrims" dominates the dispensary house at Austin Friars St where once there was an Augustinian Friary.

The town, as of 2006, is the most populated town in the Irish Midlands due in part to its increasing popularity as a commuter town. The current total zoned area within the town and environs is approximately 1,280 hectares, based on the Westmeath County Development Plan 2002-2008. This area therefore, is considerably less than the areas zoned in Athlone and Tullamore.

The town has two newspapers serving the community: The Westmeath Topic and the Westmeath Examiner.

Mullingar also forms part of the Midlands Gateway, in association with Athlone and Tullamore.


Mullingar's commercial sector has expanded in recent years from just a few shops on the town's main thoroughfares - Oliver Plunkett Street, Austin Friars Street, and Mount Street - to several major shopping areas. There is an out-of-town retail park at Lakepoint (about a mile from the town centre), the Harbour Place shopping centre near the town centre and a new development at the Green - on the site of the former Avonmore and Pennys units.

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).

A Farmers' Market is held in Mullingar every Sunday and a further small market is run near Penneys/Marks and Spencer by The Green.


The town has several primary schools serving the area, and a number of secondary schools - including St Finian's College. Until 2003 St Finian's was an all-boys boarding school; however, in 2003 the decision was made to phase out the boarding school by 2007 and to admit girls as well as boys.

Other secondary schools include the Christian Brothers School for boys, Loreto College for girls and the Community College which is a co-educational school for boys and girls. The Community College also runs evening courses for adults and awards the FETAC certificates.

The nearby village of Multyfarnham has a boarding school for both boys and girls, Wilsons Hospital School serves many students from Mullingar.


Mullingar contains several industrial estates including Lough Sheever Corporate Park and the Lynn Industrial estate. Two of the towns major manufacturing plants - Penn tennis balls and Tarkett - both closed in the early 2000s causing many job losses. However newer industries have absorbed the job losses - including Capmark, Oakley, P.E.M. Engineering, Trend Technologies, Taconic International, and Mullingar Pewter which are all sizeable operations. The town is also home to a Van Nelle (Ireland) (a subsidiary of Imperial Tobacco factory which has provided employment for many years.

Iralco, an automotive component manufacturer, is located nearby in Collinstown continues to provied employment to a skilled work force. The town recently won a €25m Lidl Warehouse and distribution center which will employ between 100 and 150. A new site for the IDA Business Park has been sited aloung the new N52 bypass. A major addition to the towns telecommunications infrastructure - a broadband network - was completed in 2004 - this is expected to increase the areas attractiveness to large multinational companies. Tesco Ireland had wanted to build a superstore in Lakepoint Retail addition to its current store but the local council turned this down.

A new shopping centre anchored by Marks and Spencer and Penneys has opened in the town, known as the Fairgreen Shopping centre. Additional tenants at the centre include UK fashion retailer New Look, Dorothy Perkins and Lifestyle Sports. Some feel a need for more retailers in Mullingar which has leaked millions of Euro of spending power from the area to surrounding retail centres such as Liffey Valley and Blanchardstown. The town's Council has great plans for the town centre with the predominantly retail led 'Central' scheme. It is expected to attract many national and international retailers into the area to capitalize on the town's growing population and its increasing popularity as a location with a high quality of life compared to many busy areas of Dublin.



Mullingar lies near the national primary route N4, the main Dublin - Sligo road, 79 km (49 miles) from the capital. The town is served by Bus Éireann services to Dublin,Athlone (where passengers can catch connecting buses), Sligo, Cavan, Tullamore and Ballina.

The town currently 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. A new road to Athlone is also in the planning stages.


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 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 Mullingar line available by clicking here

Health services

The Midland Regional Hospital at Mullingar serves the entire Longford-Westmeath area. A large extension was built in the early 1990s to accommodate the ever-increasing population. A change in government, however, halted investment and the extension lay as an empty shell until late 2006 when funding was finally secured to ensure its completion.

There are several other hospitals in the town: St Loman's, which provides psychiatric services to all of the Irish Midlands; St Mary's, a care centre for older people; and the St Francis Private Hospital.


Mullingar's main tourist attractions are its lakes - Lough Owel, Lough Lene and Lough Ennell - which are popular with anglers - and Belvedere House and Gardens which is heavily promoted for its beauty. The town has several hotels - including the Greville Arms Hotel, Annebrook House Hotel, Bloomfield House Hotel, Newbridge Hotel and the 4 star Mullingar Park Hotel which houses a conference centre.

The town is also known for its connections to Irish author James Joyce, who was an occasional visitor to Mullingar during his youth. Joyce's father, John, was a civil servant posted from Dublin to compile an electoral register of Mullingar and the surrounding townlands. He often stayed in the Greville Arms Hotel.

Notable buildings

Mullingar's most notable building is the cathedral of Christ the King Mullingar, the cathedral of the Diocese of Meath. The Cathedral was dedicated on the day World War II broke out.

Columb Barracks is a major military base in the county comprising of the 4th Field Artillery Regiment and the HQ of the 54 Reserve Field Artillery Regiment (Army Reserve) formally the FCA (9 FAR).

Notable citizens

  • Music: Home town of the ska-pop band The Blizzards, singer Joe Dolan, and singer-songwriter Peter Doran.
  • Writers: Home to Declan Power Author of Siege at Jadoville,J. P. Donleavy, author of "The Ginger Man". Author and Joycean scholar Leo Daly, whose books include, "The Rock Garden", and "James Joyce and the Mullingar Connection".
  • Sport: Home of John Sherwood, World Jetski Champion 1995-1997 IJSA Runnabout 785 + 1200 Pro.
  • Business: Home town of Michael O'Leary, the CEO of Ryanair.
  • Artists: Patrick Graham, one of Ireland's most highly rated artists, was born in Mullingar in 1943.
    • Philip Gray B.Sc, ex-RTÉ Choral Department, former Director of Crypt Arts Centre, Galway Arts Centre, FilmBase Centre for Film and Video and Convener of Film Action Plan Special Status Committee. Contributor to Stills, Reels and Rushes a book on 20th century cinema co-written with Michael, Mel and Denis Gray and edited by Michael Gray. Commissioned librettist for RTÉ for Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 1990 with Cor Na nOg.
  • Ailish Tynan, Soprano and winner the BBC Singer of the World Rosenblatt Recital Prize and is also a BBC New Generation Artist.
  • The late Vincent Murray (after whom a Leinster Schools rugby tournament is called) was a native of Mullingar and a Westmeath county footballer during the 1960s.
  • Military: Columb Barracks has housed soldiers decorated for bravery:
    • Comdt Adrian Aisnworth, Military Medal for Gallantry 2nd Class (C/O 9 FAR fca) In May 1983 the 2nd Class was conferred on Captain Adrian Ainsworth "For exceptional bravery and compassion of a high order at Atiri, South Lebanon on the 7th of April 1980, at great danger to his own life from direct and sustained fire, he without hesitation crawled a distance of 200 meters to aid a grievously wounded comrade and still under fire on the return journey, brought him to a place of safety."

  • Captain Thomas Boyle, Distinguished Service Medal 2nd Class
  • Sergeant John Quirke, Distinguished Service Medal 2nd Class
  • Corporal William Allen, Distinguished Service Medal 2nd Class, who now lives in Collinstown
  • Sergeant Patrick Mulcahy, Distinguished Service Medal 3rd Class, posthumous

Local Organisations


The Stables is one of the purpose built music venue in the county dedicated to original live music. It was opened in 1990 and to date has had acts such as The Frames, Damien Rice, Bell X1, Damien Dempsey and a whole range of other big Irish acts. It tends to catch acts on the way up as it's not the biggest venue. More recently acts such as Delorentos, The Blizzards, The Immediate, Unborn Massacre and Director have taken the stage alongside older acts such as Kila, Treiga and Declan O'Rourke. Apart from The Stables Danny Byrne's is pretty good for music at the weekends too. Some cover bands and Dj's alongside some lesser known original acts.

The Mullingar Town Band was founded in 1879 by Fr. Polland as a Holy Family Confraternity Band. The local Military Barracks supplied many of the early members who themselves were serving members of the British Regimental bands stationed in Mullingar. Many of the members of these bands settled in the town and joined the band. The Mullingar Confraternity Band remained under the auspices of the Confraternity until the 1940s when it was handed over to a committee who continued under the title of Mullingar Brass and Reed Band. And thus it remained until membership had dwindled to 3 or 4 members in 1957 when the present Director Hubert Magee was asked to take the helm. In 1979 the centenary was celebrated with a membership of 100 - one member for every year of the band's existence.

The band has a dual role of marching band - The Celtic Crusaders - and a concert band which has won some of the top awards in Ireland, Northern Ireland and England. Entirely voluntary, it is maintained financially by membership fees and fundraising. Every four years since 1974 both the Celtic Crusaders and Concert Band attend the International Youth Band Festival in Pumerend, Holland. In 2004 the band completed a successful exchange with the Cardinal Gibbons High School Band, Raleigh, North Carolina and the band travelled to Midsomer Norton, England in July 2006 for the Open European Championships, bringing home four gold medals, including a gold with distinction in the senior concert section for the first time.


There are four Gaelic football teams in the Catholic parish of Mullingar; Mullingar Shamrocks, St. Loman's (both senior clubs) and Shandonagh (intermediate) and the downs (senior). St Oliver Plunkett's (senior)and Cullion (intermediate) are the only hurling teams in Mullingar. The main GAA ground for County Westmeath, Cusack Park, is situated in Mullingar. Mullingar also has ladies teams such as Mullingar Shamrocks and St Lomans.


At the moment, Mullingar has three soccer teams, i.e. Mullingar Athletic (who play in a Gainstown) and Mullingar Town (who have their grounds in Dalton Park). The third, set up in 2006, are known as Mullingar Bohemians.


Mullingar rugby football club is located in Cullionbeg, and has had a degree of success in the 1990s with two towns cup final appearances. The club also made it to the 1989 towns cup final.


Mullingar has a rich tradition in athletics with the club Mullingar Harriers producing many international athletes. Bobby Begley was Irish Team Manager when Eamonn Coughlan won the 5,000 meters World Championship in Helsinki.


St. Mary's Snooker Club has the proud history of running Ranking Events for Greater Westmeath, namely the Mullingar Open Snooker Championship, The Westmeath Open Snooker Championship, the Midland Open and the St Mary's Open Classic. The County's most successful player has been Mick Kane who has won 11 Mullingar Open Snooker Championship titles and 7 times County Westmeath Champion. Ger O'Connor has won 4 Mullingar Open titles and also 7 Westmeath Championships. Richie Toal is the 2006 & 2007 Mullingar Open Snooker Champion. Stephen Hickey won the Mullingar junior snooker championship in 2005. The "John Smith Memorial Cup" is played for each year as a Handicap event and has been in existence since 1963. The "Peter McNally Memorial Cup" in honour of Peter McNally (Irish International) Edenderry Snooker Club was won by the St Mary's Snooker Club team in 1997; the team was Mick Kane (capt), Ger O'Connor, Anthony Cleary, Richie Toal, John Norris, Larry Mahedy & Niall Heffernan. Some years later the McNally Tournament became a singles event and Ger O'Connor and Pat Tyrell reached the Final and Richie Toal the Semi-Finals.

Greyhound Racing

When programmed, greyhound track racing occurs upon the Lynn Greyhound track on Friday evenings, beginning at 20:00. For television broadcasting purposes, races are witerlaced with those from Shelbourne Dublin.


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.


The Mullingar Monarchs were formed in 2001, training from the CBS gym in the town centre. However the derelict gym was rejected in favour of Rochfortbridge. While the club took 2 years to get off the ground they are now one of the most decorated in the Midland League, securing one treble and two double titles. The team have also played in the National League Division 1, only one step away from the superleague.

The Mullingar Dragons were formed in 2007 and play in the North Eastern Basketball League. In July 2008 a Women's team was added to the already established Men's team.


The Cricket club is based on the Murray Murray in Bunbrosna, overlooking Lough Owel. The Club fields 2 men's teams in Leinster and Midland Cup and league competitions


Mullingar Hockey Club plays its matches at the Loreto secondary school, near the hospital. The men's club is in its 25th year, and has between 40 and 50 members, fielding a First Division Four team, a Second Division Eight team and (from 2007) a Third cup team. In the club there are 3 qualified coaches, with matches (open to the public) played every Saturday.


The Mullingar Jets Swimming Club is based in the town swimming pool located in Mullingar Town Park.


Lakeside Wheelers Mullingar Cycling club is a predominantly leisure and touring club catering for cyclists of all ages and abilities. The Clubs main activities are short, medium and longer distance cycles on Saturday and Sunday mornings and in the summer months on Monday and Wednesday evenings.


Mullingar is also the home of one of Ireland's international riding centres. Mullingar Equestrian Centre (5 minutes outside the town) regularly hosts competitions. Also they are available for lessons, and on Friday evenings during the year there are competitions for riders to compete in. Other schools in the area include Ladlestown Riding School and Catheraines Town Riding School. Studs include Tally Ho and Charlestown Stud.

First Aid Organisations

The Order of Malta Ambulance Corps, Ireland's largest voluntary ambulance service, has been in operation in Mullingar since September 2001. The Order of Malta provides ambulance and first aid cover at events across Mullingar and Westmeath. The Order of Malta operate 4 vehicles in Mullingar and work closely with the Athlone Order of Malta which also operates 4 ambulances.

The Westmeath Civil Defence headquarters are now located in the County Council lands at Cullionbeg just off the N4 at the Castlepollard exit off the Motorway in Mullingar. They operate several vehicles to be deployed as required in Mullingar and Westmeath.




  • Seamus O'Brien (1999). Famine and Community in Mullingar Poor Law Union, 1845-49. Irish Academic Press. ISBN 0-7165-2678-6.
  • Matt Nolan (1999). Mullingar: Just for the Record. Crigean P.. ISBN 0-9537651-0-5.
  • Mary Farrell (2002). Mullingar: Essays on the History of a Midlands Town. Westmeath County Library. ISBN 0-9506016-3-2.
  • Leo Daly (1975). James Joyce and the Mullingar Connection. Dolmen P. ISBN 0-85105-266-5.

See also

External links

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