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Lough Derravaragh

County Westmeath

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Lough Derravaragh

Irish Name: an Iarmhí - "West of the middle"

County Town: Mullingar

Nickname: The Lake County

GAA Colors: Maroon and White

Famous People with Westmeath roots: John McCormack, Oliver Golsdmith, John Joe Joyce, Edmond Malone, Larry Timmons

Famous for its lakes and rivers and situated in the middle of the island the picturesque county of Westmeath is a paradise for the visit with an interest in watersports. The largest of Westmeath's many lakes is Lough Derravaragh, which is over 8km long and provides good fishing for trout, perch and especially pike. Legend has it that the Children of Lir, changed into swans by a jealous stepmother, spent 300 years on its waters.

But Derravaragh is just one of many sites for fishing, cruising and sailing along with the Shannon, Lough Ree, the Mullingar lakes and the Royal Canal. Anglers come from all over the world to fish in Ireland and the most knowledgeable about them come to the 'Lakelands County' of Westmeath.

Westmeath isn't all about angling and watersports. There are plenty of other things to see and do. The big towns of Mullingar and Athlone provide a wealth of activities and sights to see. One of Ireland's finest craft centres is the Mullingar Bronze and Pewter studio. Using traditional techniques, some of which date back 800 years skilled craftsmen create some of Mullingar's finest exports.

Athlone is the industrial and commercial capital of the midlands and an ideal touring base for a holiday in Ireland. Athlone's Left Bank sits in the shadow of King John's Castle built in 1210. Its winding streets exude and ambiance of history and colour that mirrors in its many wonderful shops, restaurants and pubs.

There's plenty of history in Westmeath as well. Ireland's international reputation for whiskey owes itself in some measure to Locke's Distillery in Kilbeggan and though the whiskey is no longer made here it is still brought to Locke's to be matured.

More ancient history can be found at Uisneagh Hill, about 11 miles from Mullingar. On this hill can be found the Catstone or "Ail Na Mearainn", said to be the meeting point of the five ancient provinces of Ireland. It was the seat of the High Kings of Ireland for 200 years prior to the coming of St. Patrick and the great pagan festival of Bealtaine was held here during that time.

Westmeath is a land rich in both heritage and beauty. The wide green plains of the midlands provide the setting for the scenic wonder of its lakes and rivers and there is a quiet confidence about the people of Westmeath that once you visit, you'll be back again and again.

Common Surnames in Westmeath: (Mc) Geoghegan, O'Growney, Brennan, O'Coffey, O'Mulleady, O'Malone, O'Daly, McAuley, McCormack

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