Picturesque heart of Ireland
Castle Varagh Hotel is ideally located in Castlepollard in the heart of County Westmeath, an area known as Irish Lake Country due to the number of lakes, streams, rivers and other waterways. It is extremely popular with anglers and a destination for international fishing competitions thanks to an abundance of brown trout, pike, bream and other fish.
Westmeath is also home to an array of picturesque landscapes, from rich fertile farmlands and lush forests to canal ways and converted railways that offer exciting walking trails and cycling routes.
Castle Varagh Hotel is located just 75 minutes’ drive from Dublin, two hours from Galway and is an ideal half-way point for visitors travelling between the north and south of Ireland. Thanks to its rural setting, and plethora of activities including golf and fishing, it is also the ideal venue for a business retreat, meeting or conference.
Midlands Magic and Hidden Historical Gems
County Westmeath has a colourful and rich history and was a historical meeting place for the High Kings of Ireland. The County was officially established in 1543 and named after the ancient Kingdom of Mide.
The Westmeath countryside is dotted with the relics of spectacular Norman castles and forts, alongside the most fascinating locations of cultural and historical significance such as Sean’s Bar, the oldest pub in the world, where the original walls were made from wattle and wicker dating to 900AD.
Visitors can explore a number of other hidden historical gems. The seventh century Fore Abbey is a five-minute drive from Castle Varagh Hotel. It is renowned for the “Seven Wonders of Fore” which include water that flows uphill, a tree that won’t burn, water that won’t boil and the anchorite (hermit) cell. While established some hundreds of years later, Ireland’s oldest whiskey distillery in Kilbeggan is yet another historical marvel with its original whitewashed walls, timber water wheel and ghost stories. Even the impressive Royal Canal, which weaves through the County, is a reminder of Irish history, where this 18th century innovation in water transportation served Kinnegad, Mullingar and Ballynarcargy. Today the Canal is famous for its picturesque cycling routes and walkways.
Art & Culture
County Westmeath is brimming with art and culture and provides an invigorating experience for visitors and locals alike.
Castle Varagh Hotel is located just a short drive from many of Westmeath’s vibrant market towns, arts centres and cultural festivals that infuse excitement and wonder into every visit. The Mullingar Famer’s Market offers an assortment of delicious local produce every Sunday between 10.30am and 2.30pm including chocolates and fudge, local honey, jams and chutneys, fresh flowers, juice, smoked fish and much more. Similarly, Collinstown Farmers Market offers a range or fresh local produce alongside artisan crafts including natural soaps, candles, knitted goods and woodcrafts.
Visitors can take in a live performance at the Mullingar Arts Centre, a hub for entertainment and traditional music, and enjoy a wide range of creative festivals and art exhibitions. From giant tapestries that bring Irish legends to life and elaborate wooden carvings of mythological figures, to storytelling, prose and poetry matinees and Pagan-inspired festivals, there is something to suit every cultural taste.
Among the most striking of Westmeath’s, and indeed Castlepollard’s cultural attractions is the breath-taking sculpture in Castlepollard’s main square depicting a scene from the Children of Lir. The setting for this Irish legend is in fact the nearby Lough Derravaragh; known for its abundance of wild swans, no cultural trip to Westmeath is complete without a visit to the sculpture and Lough Derravaragh’s shores.