The Belvedere Trail
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Mullingar Tourist Office, Mullingar, Westmeath,
The starting point for the Belvedere Trail is Mullingar Town.
The starting point for the Belvedere Trail is Mullingar Town. Mullingar is a town associated with agriculture and noted as a prime cattle rearing area. The area has a strong farming history and yet it is a vibrant and thriving commercial town. The town itself is easily accessible due to its location on the N4 and its railway station (which opened in 1845) and frequent bus services.
Mullingar is a good shopping and entertainment area with a choice of shops, restaurants, a 6 screen cinema, greyhound stadium and arts centre. It has a good range of activities and facilities. The Mullingar bronze and pewter factory, which is situated outside Mullingar on the N4, is known worldwide.
Mullingar is also noted for its interesting buildings, to mention a few, the railway station, Columb Barracks, Masonic Hall, the old infirmary, Clonard House, and the Market House where the tourist information office is housed. Another fine building is the Cathedral of Christ the King. The town is surrounded by the Royal Canal and due to its proximity to many lakes, it is aptly named “the capital of the Lakeland’s” and is an angler's dream.
From Mullingar take the N52, the Tullamore road where you will pass Mullingar Golf Club, the Bloomfield House Hotel and Belvedere House Gardens and Park. Belvedere, situated on the shores of Lough Ennell is connected with a wealth of stories about the Anglo Irish gentry and the imprisonment of Mary Molesworth by her husband. Visitors to Belvedere can do a tour of the house which was designed in the 1740’s as fishing and hunting lodge for Robert Rochfort and see a glimpse of the upstairs down stairs life of the mid 18th Century. See the jealous wall and follies such as the Gothic arch, octagonal gazebo and icehouse. Visit the walled garden and explore 160 acres of parkland. Children will enjoy the Belvedere tram, children’s play area and animal sanctuary. Refreshments are available at the Courtyard Café. Belvedere has many interesting surprises in store.
From Belvedere on the N52 there is access to Lough Ennell down a side road on your right hand side, which is signposted. You can also access Lilliput by a side road to your right, which is well signposted. Lilliput was named after Jonathan Swift, who published Gulliver’s Travels in 1726. Mr. Swift was the Dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin and was a regular visitor to Westmeath. He stayed with the Rochfort family at Gaulstown house, which was located on the Milltownpass/ Rochfortbridge road close to Belvedere. Jonathan Swift looked across the expanse of Lough Ennell one day and saw people on the other side of the lake. It is said this is what inspired him to write about the Lilliputians in Gulliver’s travels. There is also an early Christian association with Lilliput. St. Patrick’s sister, Lupita is also known to the Lilliput area, which may recall her name.