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Aran Inspired

Tulleynalley Castle and Gardens

The village of Castlepollard is a colorful place, highlighted by the 17th century Gothic Revival Tunnynally Castle. In addition to an extraordinary surrounding park and gardens, this castle claims the distinction of being the largest castle in Ireland that also remains a family home. The house and grounds provide visitors with a fine view onto the Midlands of Ireland, where the pace is slow and easy, and lakes and rivers embellish lush, verdant landscapes. The word Tullynally actually means “Hill of the Swans”. Its castle has a rich history, preserved by the Packenham family, which has made its home there for ten generations.

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Kilbeggan Distillery / Locke's Distillery

Kilbeggan Distillery, also known as Locke's Distillery, is located in the small town of Kilbeggan, County Westmeath, just off the main route from Galway to Dublin. It claims to be the world’s oldest licensed whiskey distillery. The distillery produced Irish malt whiskey from 1757 until 1954. Reopened in 1982 as a visitor attraction and museum, 85% of the original machinery remains intact.

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Fore Abbey and the Seven Wonders of Fore

When you visit the village of Fore, County Westmeath, and roam the surrounding fields, you’ll enjoy a first hand experience with origins of traditional Irish folklore tales that have been around for more than a thousand years. Not only is Fore one of the most beautiful, ancient and unspoiled places in Ireland, it remains one of the least known -- with few tourists around, it remains a true hidden gem. Just a few kilometres from Castlepollard, this ancient slice of Ireland's heritage revolves around the tales of Saint Fechin. Founder of the village’s Benedictine monastery during the seventh century, Fechin was a man of faith who influenced the surrounding area in seven miraculous ways, collectively known as the Seven Wonders of Fore.

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Baylin (Bealin) High Cross

Sitting on a small hill behind some houses in the village of Twyford, 15 minutes from the centre of Athlone, this ornate high cross is estimated to be more than 1200 years old. Standing at just over 2 metres (6.5 feet) tall, the cross previously stood in the neighbouring area of Baylin (hence its name), although it is thought to have originated in Clonmacnoise. Also referred to as the Bealin cross, the modern spelling "Baylin" reflects its pronunciation.

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Athlone Castle and Visitors Centre

Built in 1210, Athlone castle is today a audio-visual museum, and one of the most popular attractions in the town that lies in right in the centre of Ireland. Today recognized as a national monument, Athlone Castle served for centuries as a military barracks. The oldest walls of the castle, surviving from medieval times, are enclosed in glass to preserve their integrity.

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Athlone

The town of Athlone is situated on the boundary of Counties Roscommon and Westmeath, along the River Shannon at the southernmost point of Lough Ree. Proclaimed by the local government as belonging completely to County Westmeath, the town’s Irish name is Baile A’tha Luain, which translates to ‘ford of Luan’. Athlone was historically known as an important river crossing point, in fact, the only feasible ford for miles in either direction. In the 12th century, a wooden bridge across the Shannon was erected, and Turloch Mor O’Conor constructed a fort to guard the crossing area. Later in the century, after periodic battles at the site, the Anglo Normans erected a fort in the motte-and-bailey style. A stone castle was finally built here in 1210 by John deGray. Today’s Athlone is a thriving commercial centre, hosting major companies such as Ericcson, and is home to the popular Athlone College of Technology.

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Mullingar

Mullingar is County Westmeath’s largest and most important town. The area is historically famous as a centre for beef production and trade, much of it supplied by the many cattle farms in the surrounding countryside. The Irish expression “beef to the ankle, like a Mullingar heifer,” a polite reference to an overweight woman, originated here. The town is located along the Royal Canal, between Lough Ennel and Lough Owel. Mullingar is an ideal base from which to visit the lush countryside of County Meath, and contains some interesting buildings, including the Catholic Cathedral of Christ the King, a Renaissance style church that features beautiful mosaics of St. Anne and St. Patrick created by Boris Anrep, a prominent Russian artist. Most of the buildings in this charming town date back to the 19th century.

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Mullingar Bronze and Pewter Centre

Pewter craft has been in existence for more than 800 years in Ireland, and it is still practised at Mullingar Bronze and Pewter Centre. In the earliest times, pewter was popular for use in making candlesticks, cups, plates and other tableware. It was originally used mostly by the rich. Pewter objects were popular at castles and in homes of the powerful. As the craft spread, fine pewter was used by more common folk and in taverns and pubs.

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Belvedere House and Gardens

Located in a scenic area on the northeastern coast of Lough Ennel, this haunting estate was built by Richard Cassels in 1740 for its first occupant, the first earl of Belvedere, Robert Rochfort. Rochfort married a woman named Mary Moleswoth, who disgraced him by carrying on an affair with Rochfort’s younger brother. After she bore his child, Robert placed her in another home owned by the family, where she remained behind locked doors for years, while her husband enjoyed the mansion and spent his time and money feuding with his family. The result of one feud can still be seen as a castle ruin on the property that Rochfort built to obstruct the view of his neighboring brother’s estate.

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An Dun Transport and Heritage Museum

The private collection of transport and heritage items housed here includes painstakingly refurbished farm implements such as corn harvesters, a Garvey Mill, and tractors and horse drawn equipment. Audiovisual aids elaborate on the exhibits. Several unique motor vehicles can also be seen at An Dun museum, including a truck from the 1920s and several cars, bicycles, motorcycles with sidecars and other items, all immaculately restored and preserved. An Dun is a name referring to Mound. Its original purpose was as a resting area for travelers heading to the monastery at nearby Clonmacnoise. The Mooney clan had roots in the area as far back as 150 A.D.

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