Month: December 2017

The History of Mount Street – Ruth Illingworth

Mount Street is one of the oldest and most historic streets in Mullingar. It was part of the original streetscape of the town when Mullingar was founded by the Normans more than 800 years ago.  The Norman Lord of Mullingar, William Petit, built his castle just south of Mount Street where the County Buildings now stand. The name “Mount” actually refers to the castle-which was  called “Petit’s Castle; the “Great Castle or “the Mount.”The castle stood for more than five centuries and housed the first military base and the first church in the history of the town.

The Courthouse at the southern end of Mount Street dates back to 1824.As well as housing the courts, the building also served as a meeting place for Mullingar Town Commission and for Westmeath County Council in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The very first meeting of the Town Commission was held there in 1856 and the County Council held meetings there until the County Buildings opened in 1912. Election results were announced from the Courthouse for many years. In 1857 there was a major riot on Mount Street between supporters of rival election candidates.There was another riot in 1899 when Nationalist politicians decided to defy British authority and raise the  Irish flag on the Courthouse. Those tried in the Courthouse for political offences included Westmeath MPLarry Ginnell in 1918, Westmeath Ladies Land League President, Mary  O Connor, in 1882, and Land League founder member and Westmeath MP, Tim Harrington in 1883.

The first police station in Mullingar was in Mount Street. The Royal Irish Constabulary Barracks was located on the west side of the street across from the courthouse from the 1830s to the 1850s.

The novelist James Joyce came to Mullingar in 1900 with his father, who was doing work for the County Council. Joyce and his father worked in the Courthouse and may have stayed in lodgings on Mount Street. They had meals in a pub called Connellan’s, which stood where Caffreys’ Bar is now. Joyce probably posted letters in the post box on the wall of what is now Wallaces’ pub. The post box there dates back to Victorian times. Joyce returned to Mullingar with his father in 1901. He never forgot the town-which features in nearly all his writings. Connellans’ Bar used to have large advertisements for “Teas, Teas, Teas!”. In “Ulysses”, Joyce simply transposed the advertisement to the window of a Dublin shop. Joyce would have walked up and down Mount Street every day he was in Mullingar.

The cultural organisation, Comhalthas Ceolteoiri Eireann was founded at a meeting in the Midland Hotel in Mount Street in 1951. The first All Ireland Fleadh was held in Mullingar later that year and Mount Street was one of the venues for events during the Fleadh Ceoil na hEireann of 1963, which was held in Mullingar. The Midlands Regional Headquarters of Comhalthas opened in part of the County Buildings at the southern end of Mount Street in 2010.

The Norman Castle was demolished in the eighteenth century and replaced by the County Jail, which opened in 1789 and closed in 1900. Up until 1868, when public executions were stopped, crowds would gather weekly in Mount Street to get a good view of the hangings carried out in the jail. On one occasion, ten men were hanged in one week. A tunnel under the road connected the jail and the courthouse. The 19th-century novelist, William Carleton, who worked as a teacher in Mullingar between 1822 and 1824, was briefly imprisoned for debt in the jail in 1824.

A ghost is said to appear at the window of a building on the west side of Mount Street. Tradition says that the ghost is that of a person who was watching a hanging from the window when the window sash fell down and killed him.

Among those hanged in the jail was Bryan Seery, a tenant farmer from Castletown Geoghegan, who was executed in 1846 for the attempted murder of his former landlord, Sir Francis Hopkins. There were strong doubts about Seery’s guilt and those who called for him to be reprieved included Charles Dickens and Daniel O Connell. In 1920, Mullingar Town Commission re-named Mount Street “Seery Street” in his memory. In Irish, the street is “Sraid Seery.”

Part of Mount Street was also once known as Sterne Street-named after a relative of the 18th-century Irish novelist Lawrence Sterne, who lived in Mullingar for a short time as a boy.

The jail was demolished in 1910 and the new County Buildings and County Hall opened in 1913. Numerous stars of theatre and music have appeared in the Mullingar Arts Centre – which was known until 1998 as the County Hall. Among those to appear on the stage were Cyril Cusack, Maureen Potter, Joe Dolan, Ray McAnally and the Nobel Prize-winning playwright, Harold Pinter. New County Buildings opened in 2009 behind the original buildings. Some parts of the old jail still survive-including the Governor’s House and parts of the walls. The first vocational or technical school in Mullingar was situated in the Governor’s House. In 1915, it was proudly announced that the school now had a typewriter.

Many of the shops on Mount Street have been in business for forty years or more.These include Frayne’s, the Roma Cafe, Topic Newsagents and Caffreys’ Bar. In the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties, “Larry Caffrey’s Singing Lounge”, was one of the major entertainment venues in Mullingar. Mick Foster of Foster & Allen played there early on in his career. What is now Chambers Bar is the latest in a long line of pubs located in that building going back to at least 1911.

Christmas Magic at the Mullingar Christmas Market

Christmas Market Mullingar

The Mullingar Chamber in conjunction with the Westmeath County Council were delighted to host the annual Christmas Market last weekend.

The event which is now the largest Christmas market in the Midlands took place once again on Mount Street and saw crowds attend from all around the area. The market brought Christmas cheer to the town with lots of fun festive activities for the whole family, a fabulous of array of over 80 food and craft stalls, Santa and Mrs Claus, vintage children’s attractions and the indoor cinema.

We have had tremendous support locally for the event and would like to thank all our volunteers, Civil Defence, Order of Malta, Mullingar Tidy Towns, Mount Street Traders and local schools.

The staff of Westmeath County Council who braved the wintery weather conditions clearing streets and paths to ensure the safety of the public over the four days.

This community effort thrives on the collaboration of the town’s retail and business community working alongside Westmeath County Council. A huge thank you to the Mullingar Men’s Shed who built Santa a wonderful new home for his time in Mullingar.

Over the four days, we have had a fantastic array of local school choirs, musical groups and musicians who took centre stage on Market Square and provided a magical welcoming atmosphere to all our visitors.

We would like to thank all our sponsors including Lidl Ireland, Mc Namee Tyres, Permanent TSB, Apache Pizza, Marlinstown Business Park, Forest Park Business Park, Kelbuild, Buckley’s SuperValu, Mileage Tyres, The Greville Arms Hotel, Bloomfield House Hotel, C & D Foods, Mc Donald’s Mullingar, Quality Tractor Parts, Bank of Ireland.

We would also like to thank specific local businesses who provided direct assistance The Annebrook Hotel, The Mullingar Park Hotel, The Planning Partnership, CL Skip Hire, Harbour Place Shopping Centre, Keyguard Security, IDASO, Matthews Audio Visual, O Sullivan Safety, Cookie Web, Lift Hire, ORS, The Chambers Bar, Columbia Bar, Skyfab, SJF Productions and Aras An Mhuilinn.

The event received some fantastic media coverage from Midlands 103 and TG4 and we would like to congratulate our two local Irish speakers who represented the town, Matt Nolan and Caroline Robinson.

Chamber President, Tom Hyland said that we are looking forward to next years event already and have some fantastic ideas to make the event bigger and better for the town. We would welcome any suggestions on how to continuously improve the event.

Santa’s Grotto

Santa's Grotto

Santa and Mrs Clause will be leaving the Mullingar Park Hotel at 11.30am this morning, courtesy of Flynn Fuels, and they are due to arrive at Santa’s Grotto at 12 noon.

The Mullingar Men’s Shed has done a fantastic job of building the Grotto which will be a regular attraction in Market Square for years to come.

Santa and Mrs Clause will in the Grotto from 12 noon to 6pm every day of this year’s Christmas Market.

The cost of visiting Santa’s Grotto is:

santa's Grotto Price List



Timetable for our Choirs, Singers and Bands

Jolly Hollies singing at Mullingar Christmas Market

We are delighted to have a wide range of 20 choirs, bands and singers performing in Market Square every day of our 4-day Christmas Market between 12 noon – 4pm:


Timetable for Choirs

Thursday 7th December
12.00pm St Finians College
12.30pm St Finians College
1.00pm Lee Brady
1.30pm Presentation Senior School
2.00pm Loreto College Olivia Toman
2.30pm Charlie James Walker:
3.00pm Charlie James Walker:
3.30pm Charlie James Walker:
Friday 8th December
12.00pm Gaelscoil An Mhuillean
12.30pm Educate Together
1.00pm CBS Secondary Mary
1.30pm St Brigid’s School
2.00pm Mullingar Community College
2.30pm Sweet Tunes
3.00pm To Be Confirmed
3.30pm Mullingar Musical Allsorts
Saturday 9th December
12.00pm Mullingar Gospel Choir
12.30pm Mullingar Town Band
1.00pm Mullingar Town Band
1.30pm Mullingar Town Band
2.00pm All Saints Senior Choir
2.30pm Junior Ukulele Group / Fusion Of Lir Choir
3.00pm Lir Ukulele Band
3.30pm Jolly Hollies
Sunday 10th December
12.00pm To Be Confirmed
12.30pm Mullingar Town Band
1.00pm Mullingar Town Band
1.30pm Mullingar Town Band
2.00pm AIRC Midlands Mullingar
2.30pm AIRC Midlands Mullingar
3.00pm Megan Bates
3.30pm Jolly Hollies

This Year’s Vintage Children’s Attractions

vintage children's carousel

This year we have 2 vintage children’s attraction provided by the Vintage Carousel Company.

Last year’s carousel was, in fact, an adult one and some mothers were concerned that it was too fast. So this year we have a vintage children’s hobby horse carousel (pictured below).

Vintage children's carousel

We also have a children’s chairoplane (pictured below).

vintage children's carousel

Children’s Indoor Christmas Cinema

Aras an Mhullian

Why not take a break on Sunday to catch up with the kids and watch some festive films at this year’s Children’s Christmas Cinema. This year’s cinema is located in Áras an Mhuilinn (pictured above), which is located just past the roundabout at the bottom of Mount Street.

This year’s films are:

  • 1.30pm: Arthur Christmas
  • 3.30pm: Jack Frost

Admission is FREE.