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Discover Multyfarnham

A delightful old-world village in the centre of the wonderful Westmeath lakelands, Multyfarnham’s greatest claim to fame is its Franciscan friary, founded seven hundred years ago and still providing its visitors with a quiet retreat. The friary of Multyfarnham was founded in 1236 and became a renowned centre of learning. In the 15th century the friars rebuilt their church and its tower and substantial parts of the walls survived the removal of its roof and other damage in the 17th century. In spite of centuries of persecution, generations of friars stayed nearby until 1839 when a new friary was built, centred on the ruins of the ancient church, with its ancient tower, and the community became fully established once more. Two features in particular make Multyfarnham Friary a very special place. The first is the beautiful, secluded garden, shaded by old trees in which there are outdoor Stations of the Cross. The second is the brilliant modern stained glass by Richard King. Its central figures are four swans, with silver chains around their necks. This commemorates the ancient legend of the Children of Lir. They were transformed to swans by their wicked stepmother and endured the enchantment for a period of nine hundred years, of which they spent the first three hundred on Lough Derravaragh, just two miles from the friary. The shape of the lake is very much the same as the shape of a swan in flight. The story ends when they were rescued and cared for by St. Mochaomhog. They became human once more, but in the form of old and decrepit people and they died soon afterwards – but not before they had been baptised by him so that they could be buried as Christians. The village to-day provides self-catering holiday cottages, good food and drink, with music in some of the pubs. Derravargh is a narrow lake almost 8 km in length. The northern part is broad and shallow while the long neck towards Crookedwood is narrow and deep. Fly fishing for trout can be worthwhile, especially during the mayfly hatch. It is an exceptionally good pike lake and there are also large stocks of roach and bream. Bathing, boating and fishing are the obvious things to do at Lough Derravaragh, which has a harbour close to Multyfarnham.

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