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Pocket Guide: Westmeath

County Westmeath is located in the midlands region of the Republic of Ireland, and attracts visitors from around the world every year, many drawn by the large number of canals, rivers and loughs located throughout the county.

The ease of access to watersports is just one of the things that makes County Westmeath so appealing. Its location also makes it excellently placed for exploring the rest of the country, and towns such as Athlone, Mullingar, Delvin, Kilbeggan and Finnea offer much to explore in terms of culture, history and entertainment.

Travelling to County Westmeath

Although surrounded by rich rural landscapes and natural beauty, County Westmeath is still only 61 miles away from Dublin Airport. With over 50 different airlines serving 175 European and international destinations, and flights landing and taking off every day of the year except Christmas day, Dublin Airport offers a gateway to County Westmeath from the rest of the world.

Once you’ve landed at the airport, the heart of the county is just an hour and 10 minutes away by road.

Attractions in County Westmeath

If you’re interested in history, architecture, then two of the historical gardens in the county are sure to delight. Belvedere House and Gardens, located close to the shores of Lough Ennell, off the N52, is a beautifully restored Georgian villa set in 160 acres of parkland. As well as the beauty of the house and gardens themselves, Belvedere stages events throughout the year, including weekend music festivals, open air theatre performances and special events to mark Christmas and Halloween.

Tullynally Castle and Gardens is located in rural splendour between Lough Derravaragh and Lough Leane. It was built in the 17th century and is home to the Pakenham family to this very day. As well as the chance to admire the buildings and grounds, a visit to the castle includes a tour of a unique collection of historic artworks and furniture and a genuine Victorian kitchen and gardens.

Unlike most castles, Tullynally also has its own distillery, the Lockes Distillery Museum. This produced whiskey between 1757 and 1957, and is thought to be the oldest of its kind in the world.

Events in County Westmeath

The Athlone Agri Show and Festival takes place every June in Athlone and is, ostensibly, a chance to learn something about the place that agriculture and farming occupies in Irish life. It is a lot more fun than it sounds, however; as well as the livestock on display, you can enjoy pony rides, watch show jumping, peruse traditional Irish arts and crafts, take a ride at the funfair and tuck into some delicious, freshly prepared food and drink.

If you want to soak up some of the culture for which Ireland is famed, then look out for the RTE All Ireland Drama Festival, which takes place in Athlone at the end of April and the first week of May. This celebration of amateur dramatics groups brings together companies from all over Ireland to battle it out for the grand prize. The plays on offer are augmented by performances of music, dancing, poetry and dance.

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