County Westmeath: Wikis


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County Westmeath
Contae na hIarmhí
Coat of arms of County Westmeath
Motto: Triath ós Triathaibh  (Irish)
"Noble above nobility"
Map highlighting County Westmeath
Province: Leinster
County seat: Mullingar
Code: WH
Area: 1,764 km2 (681 sq mi)
Population (2006) 79,403

County Westmeath (Irish: Contae na hIarmhí) is one of the traditional counties of Ireland and is located within the province of Leinster.

Westmeath is the 23rd largest of Ireland’s 32 counties in area and 22nd largest in terms of population.[1] It is the sixth largest of Leinster’s 12 counties in size and eighth largest in terms of population.

It was named after the historic kingdom and province of Mide. Westmeath was created under The Counties of Meath and Westmeath Act of 1543. The hill of Uisneach in the medieval Barony of Moycashel is generally accepted as the notional geographical centre of Ireland.



County Westmeath is bordered by the counties of Cavan, Longford, Meath, Offaly and Roscommon.


Towns and villages

Towns and villages in County Westmeath include:


Westmeath County Council offices are at the County Building in Mullingar. There are currently 22 councillors. The five electoral areas of Westmeath are Athlone (7 seats), Coole (3 seats), Kilbeggan (3 seats), Mullingar East (4 seats) and Mullingar West (5 seats).[8] The Local Government (Ireland) Act 1898, provided the framework for the establishment of County Councils throughout Ireland. The first meeting of Westmeath County Council was held on 22 April 1899.[8]


Westmeath’s population growth has been stronger than the national average.[9] After the Great Famine, the population of Westmeath declined dramatically. It stabilized in the middle of the last century, and has continued to grow. Westmeath's proximity to Dublin, with good motorway facilities and frequent rail service has made commuting popular. The county town of Mullingar which has a population approaching twenty thousand. Athlone, Moate, Kilbeggan, and Castlepollard are important commercial and marketing centres.


Canal at Mullingar

Westmeath has a strong agricultural economy. Initially, development occurred around the major market centres of Mullingar, Moate, and Kinnegad. Athlone developed due to its military significance, and its strategic location on the main Dublin-Galway route across the River Shannon. Mullingar gained considerable advantage from the development of the Royal Canal. The canal facilitated cheap transport for produce to Dublin, Britain and Europe. Athlone and Mullingar expanded further with the coming of the Midland Great Western Railway network in the nineteenth century.

Tourism in Westmeath is generally centred on its many water amenities. The county lakes include Lough Derravaragh, Lough Ennell,Lough Cassidy,Lough Lene, Lough Hogg, Lough Owel, Lough Coffey and Lough Ree. Both the Grand Canal, and the Royal Canal flow through Westmeath, and the River Shannon (Ireland's key tourism waterway) has a modern inland harbour in Athlone.

The development of industry in Westmeath was mainly based on food processing and consumer products. Whiskey is distilled in Kilbeggan and tobacco is processed in Mullingar. The extensive beef and dairy trade reflects the rich agricultural produce of the county. In recent times, the manufacturer Élan has located in Athlone. The eastern part of the county is home to commuters many of whom work at the technology parks on the western side of Dublin, such as Thornton and Peppard, and around County Carlow.


Infrastructure is of good quality in the county. As part of the transport 21 infrastructure programme undertaken by the government both the N4 and N6 have been upgraded to motorway or dual carriageway standard. All towns that these roads passed through are now bypassed such as Mullingar, Athlone, Moate and Kinnegad. Both Dublin and Galway are within commuting distance from Westmeath following the completion of the M6 motorway in December 2009. Westmeath also has good railway infrastructure with a number of trains passing through towns in the county. The Dublin to Galway/Westport/Ballina inter city train service stops at Athlone Train Station while the Dublin to Sligo service stops at Mullingar Train Station. Other major infrastructural projects and plans for the county include:


Westmeath Cattle

Mullingar is renowned for the high quality of its beef and veal. Weaned cattle from the west of the Shannon, are fattened for market on the lush grasslands of Meath and Westmeath. The cattle are also used to maintain grassland to help sustain wildlife in the areas fringing the Bog of Allen.

Westmeath Horses

Barbavilla Stud Horses

Westmeath is home to many stud farms. The plains of Westmeath, covered in calcium-rich marl, contribute significantly to calcification of foal bones during their formative years. Westmeath mares are usually put into foal in spring to facilitate summer growth. Pregnancy lasts for approximately 335–340 days and usually results in one foal. Horses mature around four years old.


Westmeath is an active sporting county. Westmeath GAA won the Leinster Senior Football Championship, and the Delaney Cup, in 2004. It won the Christy Ring Cup for hurling in 2005 and 2007.


Notable Westmeath natives include:

See also


  1. ^ Corry, Eoghan (2005). The GAA Book of Lists. Hodder Headline Ireland. pp. 186–191. 
  2. ^ For 1653 and 1659 figures from Civil Survey Census of those years, Paper of Mr Hardinge to Royal Irish Academy March 14, 1865.
  3. ^ Census for post 1821 figures.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Lee, JJ (1981). "On the accuracy of the Pre-famine Irish censuses". in Goldstrom, J. M.; Clarkson, L. A.. Irish Population, Economy, and Society: Essays in Honour of the Late K. H. Connell. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press. 
  7. ^ Mokyr, Joel; O Grada, Cormac (November), "New Developments in Irish Population History, 1700-1850", The Economic History Review Volume 37 (Issue 4): 473–488, doi:10.1111/j.1468-0289.1984.tb00344.x, 
  8. ^ a b "About Us". Westmeath County Council. Retrieved 2008-06-28. 
  9. ^ "Demographic context". Offaly County Council Development Plan 2009 - 2015. Retrieved 2008-06-28. 

External links


Coordinates: 53°30′N 7°30′W / 53.5°N 7.5°W / 53.5; -7.5

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

County Westmeath is in Ireland's East Coast and Midlands.

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Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Familypedia

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County Westmeath
Contae na hIarmhí
Coat of arms of County Westmeath
centerMap highlighting County Westmeath
Province: Leinster
County Town: Mullingar
Code: WH
Area: 1,764 km²
Population (2006) 79,403

County Westmeath (Irish: Contae na hIarmhí ) is a county situated in the Irish midlands, also popularly called the "Lake county" in the western part of the province of Leinster. Area: 1,764 km². The county was once part of the ancient province of Meath and later of County Meath. This association ended in 1543 when County Westmeath was created under the Counties of Meath and Westmeath Act.

Mullingar with a population 18,529 is the county administrative centre, and has the largest urban population of the county. Athlone (population 16,888), Moate, Kilbeggan, and Castlepollard are also important commerce and marketing centres within the county.



Westmeath has traditionally been an agricultural economy. Urban development centred on market centres like Mullingar, Moate, and Kinnegad. Athlone developed due to its critical military significance in the 1500s, as it was located where the main East-West route crossed the Shannon. Mullingar got considerable advantage from the development of the Royal Canal making possible bulk transport to Dublin, and the sea. Both Athlone and Mullingar developed further in significance with the construction of the Irish railway network.

After the famine the population of Westmeath dropped dramatically, and didn't recovered until the late 1950s. Agriculture has always been important in Westmeath and the county is renowned for its cattle production.

Tourism in Westmeath is centred on its water amenities. The county has lakes such as Lough Derravaragh, Lough Ennell, Lough Lene, Lough Owel and Lough Ree. Both the Grand Canal, and the Royal Canal go through Westmeath, and the Shannon (Ireland's key tourism waterway) has a considerable inland harbour in Athlone.

The development of industry in Westmeath was based on food processing and consumer products. Whiskey production in Kilbeggan, tobacco processing in Mullingar, and the meat trade were prominent. In reccent times, the drug company élan has located in Athlone. The district to the East of Mullingar is now part of the commuter belt serving the technology parks on the western side of Dublin, proving popular with people who wish to work in Leixlip, County Kildare.

Notable Westmeath people include Michael O'Leary the CEO of Ryanair, Joe Dolan, broadcaster Marian Finucane, and Nuala Holloway, former Miss Ireland, model and actress, now artist and academic.

Westmeath's main achievements in Gaelic Games were winning the Leinster Senior Football Championship, or Delaney Cup, in 2004, and winning the Christy Ring Cup in hurling in 2005.

According to the Irish Independent, 12 December 2006, Westmeath is the goat capital of Ireland, with five times as many goats as Kerry.

Towns and villages in Westmeath

Westmeath is bordered by the counties of Cavan, Longford, Meath, Offaly and Roscommon.


Westmeath Bovine Cattle

Athlone on the Shannon

As the Goldenvale is to dairy produce, Mullingar Cattle are farmed for their high quality beef, veal, fattened upon the plains of Meath and Westmeath. Much of the countries weaned cattle, in particular, cattle from west of the Shannon, west of Athlone, arrive upon the Westmeath Meath grasslands, for final fattening before they are conditioned for human consumption. This is also true to a lesser extent for other neighbouring counties, Cavan and Offaly pastures.
Such is the recognition of the beef quality produced in the area, popular sayings ring on from generation to generation, and one in particular: <<Beef to the heel like a Mullingar Heifer >> The saying coined, referred not the heifer beef quality, but to the attractive, well proportioned, and well shaped adolescent girls of a courting age.
These cattle are also employed to maintain grassland for wildlife for example, within the surrounding areas fringing the Bog of Allen. They are often used in some of the wildest places for livestock. Depending upon their breed, certain cattle are more suited to hill grazing, heaths, marshes, and moors. Today, consequential to specialisation certain tendencies have become more visible in Irish farm practices. Breeds of bovine cows have become more commercial than older breeds. Breeds for meet consumption are those most likely to encounter in this area. As there are exceptions to all rules, there are also dairy farms that possess milk quotas, who supply the dairy industry.

The Westmeath Horse

Barbavilla Stud Horses
Collinstown Westmeath

Westmeath possesses may stud farms. These animals are reared upon the pastures allowing the bone structure to grow and form correctly. The rich planes of Westmeath, rich in calcium, marl contribute significantly to calcification of the foals bones during the formation years. Westmeath mares are put into foal preferably in spring so that the foal may grow through the summer, pregnancy lasts for approximately 335-340 days and usually results in one foal (male: colt, female: filly). Twins are occur very rarely. Colts are usually carried 2-7 days longer than fillies. Females 4 years and over are called mares and males are stallions.
Note: A castrated male is a gelding.
Horses, particularly colts, may sometimes be physically capable of reproduction at approximately 18 months but in practice are rarely allowed to breed until a minimum age of 3 or 4 years old, especially females or mares. When these Westmeath horses are about four years old, they are considered mature, even though the skeleton usually continues to develop until the six years old, and the precise time of completion of development also depends on the horse's size (therefore a connection to breed exists), gender, and the quality of care provided by its owner. Also, if the horse is larger, its bones are larger; therefore, not only do the bones take longer to actually form bone tissue (bones are made of cartilage in earlier stages of bone formation), but the epiphyseal plates (two plates that fuse a bone into one piece by connecting the bone shaft to the bone extrimities) are also larger and take longer to convert from cartilage to bone. These plates convert after the other parts of the bones do but are crucial to development.
Depending on maturity, breed and the tasks expected, young horses are usually put under saddle and trained to be ridden between the ages of two and four. Although Thoroughbred and Irish Draught three quarter bred horse, for horse jumping, and race horses are put on the track early as two years old, by some horses proprietors. These horses of the lake districts, (north of the county), are specifically bred for sports such as show jumping and dressage are generally not entered into top-level competition until a minimum age of four years old, because their bones and muscles are not solidly developed, nor is their advanced training complete.
For endurance riding competition, certain horses may not compete until they are a full 60 calendar months (5 years) old.


External links

This page uses content from the English language Wikipedia. The original content was at County Westmeath. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with this Familypedia wiki, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons License.
Facts about County WestmeathRDF feed

This article uses material from the "County Westmeath" article on the Genealogy wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

Simple English

Westmeath is a county in the middle of Ireland. Westmeath and Meath once formed a fifth province in Ireland known as Mide. Westmeath is known as the lakeland county. Its main town is Mullingar.


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