MULLINGAR TOWN - History & Time Line

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360° view of Austin Friar St Area

360° view of Market Square / Mount St Area

360° view of Dominick St Area

360° view of Pearse St / Castle St Area

360° view of Castle St / Harbour St Area

360° view of Mary St. College St. and Cathedral

Mullingar is located on the N4 between Dublin and Sligo and not far from the intersection with the main road to Galway (N6). In addition to an urban population of approximately 15,000 people and a rural population of 30,000 there is a strong catchment area taking in Offaly, Longford, Cavan and Roscommon providing a further 100,000 population. The town has a significant agricultural hinterland and an existing strong industrial and technical base which include Penn Racquet Sports, Van Nell (Douwe Egberts) and Taconic International.

In addition Mullingar is the administrative centre for Co Westmeath, the County Council Offices, a large Garda headquarters, a general hospital and two other hospitals as well as headquarters for Teagasc and Coillte (Forestry Regional Offices).

Mullingar has attracted leading retailers such as Tesco and Dunnes Stores. These thrive on the population of Westmeath which has approximately 60,000 people.

Mullingar is located in one of the most scenic and beautiful areas close to all of the major lakes in the midlands and provides a wonderful lifestyle on your back door. In addition, all sporting activities including horse riding, golf and watersports are within only a short distance and provide excellent opportunities for rest and relaxation


Mullingar is also only 50 minutes from the M50, Dublin's "Ring Road" from which Dublin Airport, Dublin Port, Dun Laoighre, and generally any part of the capital are easily accessed


Ruth Illingworth (Contact Ruth)
Chair: Mullingar Historical and Archaeological Society

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The town of Mullingar was founded by the Normans 800 years ago. The history of human settlement in the area goes back, however, to at least the late Bronze Age 3,000 years ago. What is now Mullingar's main street was part of an east-west roadway in use since early Christian times and the oldest known surviving stone building in Mullingar urban area is a souterrain dating back to the seventh or eight centuries.

There were important early Christian monastic settlements at Lough Ennell and Lough Owel associated with Saints Colmán and Loman. The name, Mullingar, An Muileann Cearr, 'The Lefthandwise Mill" is a reference to a miracle associated with Saint Colmán. Mullingar was also close to the Royal Fort of Malachi II, High King of Ireland 1014-1022. Coins found in Lough Ennell also indicate a Viking presence in the Mullingar area 1,000 years ago.

Norman Mullingar was founded by the Petit family in the last decades of the twelfth century. The Norman settlement was a Manor and Borough with a castle, a parish church, Augustinian and Dominican monasteries, a hospital and a Frankhouse. The population of the Borough was a mixture of Gaelic Irish and French, English, Welsh, Flemish and Breton immigrants. Mullingar was 'an important resting place for travellers and traders, and the recently discovered Augustinian graveyard provides evidence that Mullingar people undertook pilgrimages to Santiago De Compostela in Spain, some 600 years ago.

In 1542, Henry VIII made Westmeath a County and Mullingar became the County Town. Henry's reign also saw the dissolution of the two Mullingar monasteries and the establishment of a Protestant community in the town. Mullingar suffered badly from Irish raids and from disease at this time. In 1575, Plague decimated the population and, in 1597, the town was completely burned by the O'Neills.

During the seventeenth century, the Cromwellian Land Settlement dispossessed many of the old English landowning families of the area and they were replaced by new English and Scottish settlers. Mullingar families were among the thousands of Irish Roman Catholics who emigrated to mainland Europe. In 1661, the Manor of Mullingar was granted to Sir Arthur Forbes, Earl of Granard, whose family would own the town for 200 years. In 1690, the Williamite army occupied Mullingar and stockpiled it with weapons and provisions for the campaign against the Jacobites.

By the eighteenth century, Mullingar was a major centre for the sale of wool and the local livestock fairs attracted buyers and sellers from all over Ireland and beyond. The town was rebuilt following a disastrous fire in 1747 and seems to have had a degree of prosperity. The majority of the population were Roman Catholic and by the 1760s, despite the Penal Laws, they had built a fine slate roofed parish chapel. There was also a substantial Church of Ireland community, and by the early 1800s, there were some Presbyterians and Methodists too.

The late eighteenth century saw the building of many 'big houses' for the local Protestant Gentry around Mullingar. The finest of these residences was Belvedere.

The nineteenth century brought a transport revolution to the town with the arrival of the Royal Canal in 1806 and the railway in 1848. Mullingar was also an important coach stop.

The rise of a Roman Catholic middle class and an active Clergy led to the building of a Cathedral in 1836 and the founding of schools by the Presentation and Loreto Sisters and the Christian Brothers. There was also a Church of Ireland National School.

Nineteenth century Mullingar was an important military centre and many British army regiments were stationed in the town. Many of the soldiers married local women and settled in town. The army also supplied a source of employment for locals and men from Mullingar served all over the British Empire.

In 1858, Lord Greville purchased the town and his family remained Landlords until the 1920s. In 1868, Lord Greville leased a Right of Way to the War Minister for 10,000,000 years - the longest lease in the world.

As well as a Cathedral, a military barracks, a railway station and the canal, Mullingar in the 1800s also had an infirmary, a workhouse, a jail, a courthouse, a market house, a post office and a police barracks. There was also a racecourse. The town was lit by gas from 1859 and a telegraph office opened in 1853. Mullingar Town Commissioners were founded in 1856. A District Dispensary opened in the 1850s,as did St. Loman's Mental Hospital. Sports played in the town included Rugby, Cricket and Gaelic games. Confraternities, Temperance Clubs, Freemasonry and the Foresters provided a social life and welfare.

Poverty was also a feature of 19th century Mullingar. There was much poor housing and periodic outbreaks of Cholera and other disease. A lack of sufficient employment and the ravages of the Great Famine led to an upsurge of emigration to Britain, America, Australia, Canada and Argentina. Changing agricultural practices, recession and unjust land laws led to many evictions and much violence in parts of the rural hinterland during the 1860s and 1870s.

The twentieth century began with the arrival of the first motorcars and electric light in Mullingar. James Joyce visited the town in 1900 and recorded his impressions of Mullingar in his novels, 'Stephen Hero', and 'Ulysses'.

During the First World War, scores of Mullingar men served in the armed forces and many were killed or injured. The town was also a major military training depot.

During the 'troubled times' of 1916-1921, many people from Mullingar, a largely Nationalist town, took part in the struggle for Irish Self Government. Sean McEoin was shot and wounded while trying to escape arrest in Mullingar in 1921.

Early in 1922, the British Army left Mullingar and the Irish Army took over the barracks. Mullingar would remain an important garrison for the rest of the century. The first Gardaí arrived at the end of 1922. Mullingar escaped the worst of the Civil War, although there were a number of deaths and other serious incidents.

A number of historically significant buildings were erected in Mullingar during the first half of the twentieth century. Most notable was the Cathedral of Christ the King, built between 1932 and 1936. The County Hall (now Arts Centre) and County Council buildings were built between 1910 and 1913 on the site of the old jail. St. Finian's College opened in 1908 and the County Hospital in 1936.

The second half of the century witnessed Mullingar's increasing prosperity. The town remained an important market town, but it also acquired a strong industrial and technology base for the first time. New schools, churches and businesses were built and the town expanded dramatically in all directions. The last two decades of the twentieth century saw Mullingar's population almost treble and improved transport links made it almost a suburb of greater Dublin.

As Mullingar saw out the old Millennium and welcomed in the new, the town was more prosperous than at any time in its history.

Ruth Illingworth (Contact Ruth)
Chair: Mullingar Historical and Archaeological Society

|| Top of Page || Mullingar History || Mullingar Timeline ||



Bronze Age Settlement in Mullingar area.

550 - 800 CE

Early Monastic Settlements at Lynn and Portloman. Many raths, souterrains and roadways in Mullingar area.

800 - 1050

Viking Trading Post along River Brosna. Royal Palace of King of Ireland at Lough Ennell.

1170 - 1200

Town of Mullingar founded by Norman Petit Family.


First Mention of Mullingar Parish Church.


First Grant of Fair to Mullingar

1227 - 1237

Augustinian and Dominican Monasteries Founded

1539 - 1540

Monasteries Dissolved


Mullingar becomes County Town of Westmeath


Mullingar burned during Nine Years War by the O'Neills.

1642 - 1649

Mullingar a supply deport for Catholic Confederation.


Mullingar granted to Sir Arthur Forbes, Earl of Granard.

1690 - 1691

Williamite Army occupy the town.


Earliest Roman Catholic Parish Registers


Mullingar destroyed in accidental fire.


Roman Catholic Parish Church built.


County Infirmary built in Mullingar.


Royal Canal reaches Mullingar. Methodist Meeting House open.


Military Barracks opens.


Presbyterian Chapel opens.


Church of Ireland Parochial National School opens.

1825 - 1826

Presentation Convent and School opens.

1828 - 1829

Jail and Courthouse rebuilt


Cholera epidemic in Mullingar.


First Cathedral built.


Workhouse opens.


Daniel O'Connell visits Mullingar.

1846 - 1849

Great Famine causes hundreds of deaths in Mullingar - poor law union.


Railway reaches Mullingar.


Telegraph Office opens at railway station.


St. Loman's Hospital opens.


Christian Brothers School opens.
Mullingar Town Commissioners founded.


Lord Greville purchases town from Earls of Granard.


Market House built.


Lord Greville leases a Right of Way to the War Minister for 10,000,000 years, the world's longest lease.


Masonic Hall opens.


Loreto Convent and School founded.


Last execution in Mullingar Jail.


Church of Ireland Parochial Hall opens.


Westmeath County Council set up.


James Joyce visits Mullingar.
Electric light first used in Mullingar at railway station.
Vocational Schooling begins in Mullingar.

1901 - 1905

First motorcars and cycles registered in Mullingar


St. Finian's College opens.


Jail demolished.
County Council offices and County Hall built on the site.


County Hall opens.

1914 - 1918

Scores of Mullingar men serve in World War One.Town a training depot for Kitchener's Volunteer Army.

1919 - 1921

War of Independence brings Black and Tans to town.
Police Barracks burned.
Sean McEoin arrested in Mullingar by British and wounded as he tries to escape in 1921.

1922 - 1923

British Army withdraws from Mullingar and first Gardaí arrive in Mullingar.
Patrick Columb of National Army shot dead as Civil War begins.
Novelist and Anti-Treaty supporter, Annie MP Smithson arrested in Town. Two men executed in Army Barracks for armed robbery (last executions in Mullingar's history).

1932 - 1936

Cathedral of Christ the King built. Opened in 1936


Cusack Park and Greyhound Stadium opened.


County Hospital opened.


Cathedral consecrated.

1939 - 1945

Town serves as a major military base during World War Two. Several Mullingar people also serve in British Armed Services.


First Fleadh Cheoil held in Mullingar.


Vocational School (now Community College) opens.


Newbrook Racecourse closes after 109 years.


Northern Irish Refugees cared for in Mullingar.

1975 - 1976

Lynn Industrial Estate opens.


Bellview School opens.


St. Paul's Church opens.


Mullingar Bypass opens.


Famine Memorial erected at Dominick Place.


Mullingar Arts Centre opens.
Round Tower at Irish Memorial Peace Park, Belgium, built using stone from Mullingar Workhouse.


Mullingar celebrates Third Millennium
Statues erected of two monks to commemorate Augustinian Monastery.

Ruth Illingworth (Contact Ruth)
Chair: Mullingar Historical and Archaeological Society

|| Top of Page || Mullingar History || Mullingar Timeline ||

Ruth llingworth,
Chair Mullingar Historical
and Archaeological Society,
4 Millmount Road,
Co. Westmeath.

Local: 044 - 48597
International: +353 44 48597

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