Last weekend I travelled west of Dublin and visited Meath, West Meath and Offaly. These are not usually high on the list of places visited by the tourist to Ireland and the ‘Midlands’ are often seen as an annoying place that gets in the way of the trip from Dublin to Galway and the rest of the west coast. I felt I had ignored the region for too long and the main reason to visiting was to look for a specific bog where sarracenias had naturalised. As it turns out, I couldn’t find it but I did visit another bog (of which more soon).
I was very pleasantly surprised by the beauty of the area and I will definitely go again soon. The other places I wanted to see were Belvedere and Trim Castle. But, first, the beautiful Lough Ennell which was the forcus of the first day of my two-day trip. I stayed overnight near Mullingar which is at the north end of the lough but my bog visit, at Clara, Co. Offaly was at the south end so I explored the east coast of the Lough. The Lough is about 7km long and 3km across at its widest so it is not huge, but it is unusual for being very shallow – half of it is only 3m deep. It is fed by the River Brosna. At the south end, near where the first photos were taken is Lilliput. Jonathon Swift had a cottage here and it is said that he was in a boat on the lough and looked across and saw how small the people looked and it was the basis of his tale of the same name – seems a bit odd to me and reminds me of that famous episode of Father Ted.
The Lough is famous for its brown trout and the numerous small islands. There are numerous picnic spots around the Lough and small marinas used by fishermen.
I stayed at the Broomfield House Hotel which has grounds that run down to the Lough. I think this is usually quite pricey but I rang the day before and, because it was pre-season and a Sunday night it was extraordinary value and the food, service and bed were great. The photos below are taken from the grounds – after just one Guinness.
In the next few days I will post about the historic Belvedere, Clara Bog, Kilbeggan Distillery, Trim Castle and some gardening too!