Representatives of 24 different sports were in attendance in the council atrium on Monday to help launch “Destination Sport - Mullingar”, a week long celebration of sport planned for June 12-20 around the town.
At the zesty and exuberant launch were street performers and dancers, with kayakers and scuba divers, and little earnest girls with pink boxing gloves. There was an Olympian, an ultra marathon runner, and a fellow who, as a terrified teenager, once faced the iconic West Indian bowler Curtly Ambrose from 22 yards.
There were all the regular locals like the GAA, rugby, soccer, fishing, equestrian, and tennis clubs in attendance, alongside martial arts, volleyball, basketball, and lawn bowling representatives.
All were there to showcase their preferred method of fitness and recreation, and to show the wider world just how much Mullingar has to offer in these pursuits.
The idea behind Destination Sport - Mullingar was born out of the success of National Bike Week last June and the sports zone that was affiliated to Discover Mullingar Day in September.
Cycling will be central to the week’s festivities, with Lakeside Wheelers, who re-instated the criterium race around Mullingar after a gap of 25 years last June, hosting the“best cyclists in the country” to race on Wednesday, June 16, while the week is to be formally closed by the arrival in Mullingar of the national cycling tour on Sunday, June 20.
The opening day begins with a parade through the town, starting at Penneys at 5pm on June 12. In the ensuing nine days there will be the first game of cricket to be played in the town in over a 100 years in St Finians (June 18 ), a bridge-to-bridge canal swim (June 13 ) and canoe race (June 20 ), as well as boccia, dance, the Community Games finals, tag rugby, inter-firm seven-a-side soccer, bowls, tennis, karate and a timetable full of over 60 other events. All details can be seen on www.westmeathsports.ie or from (044 ) 9390208.
Opening the project in the atrium this week, Cathaoirleach Fintan Cooney suggested Discover Sport - Mullingar would “showcase the large number of sports clubs in and around Mullingar”.
“It is designed to encourage public participation in a fun way and to give people a sense of what level of expertise can be attained,” he said.
“Sport makes a significant contribution to the welfare of our society and I would like this project to be an expanding platform for the promotion of sports across the social spectrum,” he added.
Having the cycling as the centrepiece of the festivities comes about after a project involving Westmeath County Council, Fáilte Ireland and Waterways Ireland last year where Mullingar was established as a national cycling hub town in line with Failte Ireland’s strategy to promote cycling tourism, aimed at attracting increased domestic and overseas tourism activity. The project also sought to renew the popularity of cycling as part of an active lifestyle and to promote the undoubted health benefits that can be gained from leisure cycling.
The week is supported by Westmeath County Council, Mullingar Town Council, Failte Ireland, Mullingar Chamber of Commerce, the Westmeath Sports Partnership Ltd., Waterways Ireland and Co Westmeath Tourism Ltd.