Mullingar (from the Irish: an Muileann Gearr/gCearr meaning "the short/left-handed mill") is the administrative centre of County Westmeath, Ireland and the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Meath. Local government affairs are administered for the county from the town and county council buildings. The Counties of Meath and Westmeath Act ( Henry VIII 34 ) of 1542, proclaimed Westmeath (which then included Longford which separated in 1586) a county, separating it from Meath. Mullingar became the administrative centre for County Westmeath. The town was originally named Maelblatha, and takes its modern name from a mill noted in the legend of Colman of Mullingar.

Mullingar now possesses amenities such as libraries, secondary schools, gymnasiums, snooker halls, internet-cafes, an Arts Centre, and railway station. The town had a tradition of cattle-trading up until 2003, when its cattle market was finally closed for development of a mixed commercial and residential scheme called the Market Point. Mullingar is famous for the neighbouring lakes, Lough Owel and Lough Ennell, which attract many anglers, as well as Lough Derravaragh.

Lough Derravaragh is best known for its connection with the Irish legend of the Children of Lir. Having being turned into swans, the four children of King Lir spent three hundred years on Lough Derravaragh before moving to other locations around Ireland. Lough Lene has a reputation for its clear water, historic ringforts, and wind-surfing.

In recent times one of Mullingar's major exports has become the items of pewterware produced by the firm of Mullingar Pewter located near the town. Genesis fine art is also produced locally and sold worldwide - one of its sculptures of the "Pilgrims" dominates the dispensary house at Austin Friars St where once there was an Augustinian Friary. The town is the second largest town in the Irish Midlands, second only to Athlone.

The town, as of 2006, is however, officially the most populated town in the midlands List of towns in the Republic of Ireland by population due in part to its increasing popularity as a commuter town. A statue of Joe Dolan has been erected on market square as a tribute.

The town has three newspapers serving the community: The Mullingar Advertiser, The Westmeath Topic, and The Westmeath Examiner. Mullingar forms part of the Midlands Gateway,[10] in association with Athlone and Tullamore.


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