“For decades, we’ve watched visitors stop off briefly in Mullingar, before travelling further west, passing through this county, unaware of its many attractions. This area has much more to offer than many other tourist counties, so the Greville Arms decided its well past time to make a change.
We want to show those who stop off in Mullingar just what they’re missing and how much Westmeath and this part of the Midlands has to offer them.”
That’s how Christy Maye described their hotel’s inaugural Royal Midhe Tour – a unique escorted tour, which takes place each Thursday from Mullingar’s oldest hotel, and which will allow those who’ve booked it with them or have booked directly, to experience many of the little known scenic and historical gems located within a relatively short distance of the Westmeath capital.
The new Royal Midhe tours will take in many of the most famous historical locations in the central midlands, as well as some of the finest scenic views of several of the lakes which have made Westmeath known far and wide as the Lake County. Few towns have as much to offer as has Mullingar, in terms of local lakes which are the stuff of the most enduring of Irish legends and historic events – like Lough Derravaragh linked so closely to the story of the Children of Lir, and Lough Ennell where the “last Ard Rí of Ireland who wore a crown” once had his home, or Lough Owel, where the infamous Norse warrior Turgesius met his fate and Lough Lene, where the same invader had his stronghold, and still has an island in the lake named after him, over a millenium later.
Or how about the famous Seven Wonders of Fore? This is the best preserved and most attractive historical location anywhere in the midlands, and then there’s Tullynally Castle, outside Castlepollard, still the lived-in home of the famous Pakenham family; and of course Belvedere House and its extraordinary folly, The Jealous Wall. You’ll also see several hidden ‘gems’, like the castle where the legendary World War 2 British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill once lived (In fact, if you have enough spare cash at your disposal, this 18th century edifice could even be yours!) or the place where famous War of Independance figure, Gen. Sean Mac Eoin was imprisoned.
The Greville Arms escorted tour is available each week from the Hotel with a special of two nights Bed and Breakfast, Dinner on one evening and Afternoon Tea on arrival, and also includes the Royal Midhe History and Scenic Tour.
The hotel itself – by far the oldest in the town – has a remarkable amount of history attached to it. The main street hotel is built on the site of the first Greville Arms, which was the home of Lord Greville and his family until the 1920s, with original hotel dating from the 1700s. The Grevilles remained landlords of Mullingar until a century ago. It was in 1868, Fulk Southwell Greville Nugent, Colonel of the Westmeath Militia, leased a right of way at Mullingar Army Barracks to the British Secretary of State for War for 10 million years – for a peppercorn! A lease recognised in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s longest lease. The Greville Arms Hotel is also one of the few surviving Irish hotels known to James Joyce and mentioned by him in his writings. The Greville Monument, a memorial to a lost soldier son, once on Mullingar’s main street, is today retained and shown in the hotel’s garden. Caldbeck was Lord Greville’s architect of choice, the man who was also responsible for the building of the nearby Mullingar Market House.
Thanks to the Christy Maye’s interest in things historic, the Greville Arms also has its own unique small museum, containing items of local historical value, but also others of national and international interest. Like the magnificent Canova Penitent Magdalene lifesize sculpture, created for the British Prime Minister in 1822, and which is displayed separately in the hotel’s lobby.
The museum area also has fossils up to 4 million years old, rare Irish coins and famous documents, and its Belvedere memorabilia include fascinating items from the Howard Bury collection and the portrait of Robert Rochfort and the famous Irish Mace.
All who book in for the Royal Midhe Tour, in addition to the spectacular views and wonderful landscapes of the north Midlands, will also learn much more about Westmeath’s numerous unique features and famous names from the tour guide. And those mentioned are just part of what the Lake county has to offer.
The new Greville Arms initiative has an important tourist dimension, highlighting the many attractions of the Westmeath area, in ancient times Royal Midhe (meaning Middle Kingdom) – the fifth ancient Irish province, where all five had their central meeting point at Ail na Mireann – the Stone of the Divisions.
The tour can be booked directly with Jay Fox Carney on +353 86 2546761 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. It starts on Thursday at the Greville Arms Hotel at 2pm and is also available at Annebrook House Hotel, Mullingar. The accommodation package can be booked through the Greville Arms Hotel, on Tel: +353 (044)9348563.