The Irish are great ones for wrapping an insult up in a lyrical turn of phrase. Rather than describe a woman as overweight they'll say with a wink that she's "beef to the heels, like a Mullingar heifer." Of course, the phrase also illustrates Mullingar's role as Ireland's beef capital, a town surrounded by rich countryside where cattle trading has historically been one of the chief occupations. It's also County Westmeath's major town—a busy commercial and cattle-trading center on the Royal Canal, midway between two large, attractive lakes, Lough Owel and Lough Ennel. Although best used as a base to tour the surrounding countryside, Mullingar has some sights worthy of your time.
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One of the most elegant small towns in Ireland, Abbeyleix has retained its Georgian feel and its broad main street, which is lined with well-appointed...
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