Mullingar: The place behind the play

John Patrick Shanley’s romantic comedy Outside Mullingar derives its setting in the county of Westmeath, Ireland and the real town of Mullingar. The administrative, business, and cultural center of the county, the town was visited by Shanley as he was writing the play. Here are a few quick facts about the history of Mullingar:


Photo by Finn Mac Ginty

• With a current population of 20,000 inhabitants, Mullingar is roughly equal in size to South Lake Tahoe, CA.

• The town was first founded by the Normans over 800 years ago. In 1575, Mullingar was decimated by the Black Plague and was later burned to the ground by the O’Neills in 1597.


The Hill of Tara in Meath, Ireland


  • It was the seat of the ancient kingdom of Meath, and is now the administrative and business center of present day County Westmeath.


• The town is approximately 80 km (or 50 miles) outside of Dublin and can be reached easily by train, car, or bus.


Lough Owel

• Mullingar is located in the heart of Ireland’s lake country with five major lakes (or loughs) in close proximity attracting tourists throughout the year: Lough Ennell, Lough Owel, Lough Derraverragh, Lough Lene, and Lough Iron.


Statue of James Joyce and Irish musical icon Joe Dolan in Mullingar

• James Joyce spent time in Mullingar in 1900. The town is referenced in his novels Stephen Hero and Ulysses.

• The most recognizable landmark in the town is the Cathedral of Christ the King. Opened in 1936 and consecrated in 1939, it was the first cathedral to be dedicated to Christ the King.


Photo by Finn Mac Ginty

•  During the annual Kilbeggan races, the town transforms itself into a festival of sporting and vibrant social activities. First held in 1940, these horse races occur throughout the year and includes live music, children’s entertainment, and the Best-Dressed Lady Competition.


  • A famous expression heard in County Westmeath is “Beef to the heels of a Mullingar heifer,” complimenting the quality of Mullingar cattle.

• Mullingar is also the hometown of both Irish singer-songwriter Joe Nolan and One Direction’s Niall Wilson.

Reserve your seats for Outside Mullingar today!

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