Tullynally Castle has been home of the Pakenham family, Earls of Longford, since the 17th century. It is still lived in as the family home of Thomas and Valerie Pakenham. The interiors, part Georgian, part Gothic revival, have a fine collection of furniture and pictures. The guided tours also take in the splendid Victorian kitchens and laundries, complete with all their equipment.
The gardens, like the castle are on a magnificent scale, taking in nearly 12 hectares. Terraced lawns around the castle overlook superb 18th century parkland. The adjoining woodland gardens and walled gardens date largely from the early 19th century and encompass a grotto of eroded limestone from nearby Lough Derravaragh and two ornamental lakes. The present owners have added a Chinese garden, complete with pagoda and a Tibetan garden of waterfalls and streams; and a local sculptor has made fantastic woodcarvings in existing roots and trees. The walled gardens have extensive flower borders and an avenue of magnificent 200 year old Irish yews.
For children, there is also an Adventure Trail leading to the lower lake, and for those who wish to take the gardens more slowly, there is an assortment of delightful, ornamental summer houses and seats, each offering a different view.
Tullynally Castle Gardens and tearooms are open 11am-5pm, Thursday to Sunday from April to September.
As the castle itself is still a private family home, it is not open to casual visitors. Guided tours of the main rooms can usually be arranged for groups of 20 or more. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 00353 (0)44 966 1856.
There are also regular guided tours at 3pm on Sundays of the splendid Victorian kitchens and laundries giving fascinating details of Life Below Stairs in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Tickets available in tearoom.
The village of Fore is in a valley between two hills. Here you will see the ancient ruins of a Christian monastery. Fore is “the town of the springs” and was named after St. Fechin’s spring, which is beside the old church. It was St. Fechin who founded the ancient Fore Abbey around 630 A.D. By 665 A.D. (the time of the yellow plague) there were 300 monks living in the community. Between 771 and 1169 A.D. Fore was burnt 12 times. An important aspect of Fore is the “Fore Crosses” one of which is in the village of Fore. There are 18 crosses; some crosses are plain whilst others are carved. These are spread out over 10km on roadways and in fields and beared witness to religious persecution during penal times. Over looking Lough Lene is Slieveboy hill and “Gallagher’s Moteens” which are Bronze Age graves. These are Cist graves, which succeeded the Communal burial chambers of the New Stone Age.
St. Fechin is known for performing miracles, which are known as the "7 Wonders of Fore":
Fore Abbey is located near the village of Fore which is 4 km east of Castlepollard in County Westmeath.
Mullaghmeen Forest is a state forest and provides 14 miles of roadway for the walker. It leads to the highest point in Westmeath (894ft).
Mullaghmeen is an isolated area of forest rising above the farm land of north Westmeath. Mullaghmeen Forest is the largest planted beech forest in Ireland. Along with beech, within its 400 ha of forest, it also has Sitka spruce, Scots pine and noble fir and a very interesting native tree collection.
The summit of Mullaghmeen provides magnificent views north across Lough Sheelin and into the neighbouring county of Cavan.
The forest, once an out farm belonging to a Lord Gradwell of Dowth Hall, Co. Meath, has many examples of mans former impacts on the landscape. Following the White Trail one passes sad reminders of famine times with relic walls of famine fields. A Booley Hut, a summer grazing shelter is just off the Red Walk / Mullaghmeen Summit Trail, while the Flax Pits show that this important crop for the linen industry was once harvested and cured in this area.
The underlying Geology is Limestone Rock and in the south eastern corner more of its geology is revealed where one can see turloughs – disappearing lakes that fill and empty with no apparent in or outflow.
Come in spring for the best displays of woodland flowers notably bluebells. The area is populated with grey squirrels, jays, badgers, foxes, pheasant, rabbit & hares as well as a large selection of song birds.
The area has an extensive network of way marked trails for varying levels of fitness.