1. Athlone Castle
This castle was built for King John and dates back to the twelfth century. Built as a strategic defensive point at the crossing of the river, the keep is now a national monument. The castle is home to a museum that traces the development of the county’s main town, Athlone, making it a historically enriching stop in your tour of Westmeath.
2. Belvedere House & Gardens
Walled gardens were typically designed to protect the plants from wind and animals, but that doesn’t mean walls can’t serve other purposes. Robert Rochfort, 1st Earl of Belvedere, retreated to this country house after his wife and his brother Arthur had an affair. The Earl at the time had the largest Gothic folly in all of Ireland, 'The Jealous Wall,' created so that he would not have to see his brother George’s estate nearby. Family drama aside, the grounds are beautiful and entirely worth a visit.
3. Old Kilbeggan Distillery
The oldest licensed distillery in Ireland, Kilbeggan Distillery has had a torrid history of financial difficulties. Today the distillery still makes whiskey and is a museum where you can learn their traditional whiskey making process. Old Kilbeggan Distellery stands as a testament to the community’s loyalty and perseverance.
4. Uisneach Hill
At one point this was the center of Ireland, though today the Hill of Uisneach is a protected national monument consisting of standing stones, burial mounds, earthworks, an ancient road, and more. In mythology, it is the burial place of several gods including the Sun god, Lugh, and was the meeting place of druids and revelers during the festival of Bealtaine.
5. Christ the King Cathedral
This beautiful work of architecture in Mullingar boasts two towers rising to a height of fifty-five metres and gorgeous mosaics of Saint Anne and Saint Patrick in its interior. At the request of Pope Pius XI, this is notably the first cathedral dedicated to Christ the King and was consecrated in 1939.
This only scratches the surface of what delights await in Westmeath. Whether its mythical heritage, historical wonders or breathtaking scenery, Westmeath has something for everyone. It's an essential stop for anyone planning a trip to Ireland!