Belvedere House – surprise in the heartlands

The ruin is deceptive. In fact, it is a “folly”, an ornamental structure to embellish the park – who would have thought it? I’ll show you the real Belvedere House in this article…

Folly wall at Belvedere House
Folly wall at Belvedere House (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)


Have you ever heard of Mullingar? Neither had we before. The small town is located in the centre of Ireland, in the Heartlands. If you’re driving on the motorway from Dublin to Galway, you’ll pass it.

And if you drive from the north-west to the south-east through the middle of the country, there’s a good chance you’ll pass through Mullingar. That’s how it was for us. On the way back from Donegal to South Wicklow, where we have our second home, we passed through Mullingar.

Belvedere House
Belvedere House (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

It was late lunchtime, we were hungry and wanted to stretch our legs. A look at Google Maps revealed Belvedere House & Gardens, a manor house with gardens and park on Lough Ennell, south of Mullingar. This was to be our stopover.

The small town of Mullingar looked lively, colourful and typically Irish as we drove through – very nice, we could have stopped here too. But the views of the gardens, park and lake were too inviting.

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Some background to Belvedere House

We had already visited other House & Garden. County Wicklow, where we live and nearby, has several of them and most of them are quite large and magnificent. Belvedere House seemed a lot less grand at first glance, definitely smaller.

The house is old and beautiful, but could perhaps do with a renovation, that was our impression at the time. And it will indeed be renovated in 2024. We visited the house, which is beautiful and interesting, but not grandiose. The garden is very nice, but also not grandiose. However, we really enjoyed the walk in the park. Is this a princely estate?

A highlight in the park is the Folly Wall, a ruin that is actually just a decorative wall. Behind it is a nice little shop with a café-restaurant. Well done!

Dining room at Belvedere House
Dining room at Belvedere House (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

And I actually have to revise my first impression right after the visit: Because we had a very nice two hours at Belvedere House! My expectations were perhaps just a little “misaligned” from other houses (castles) that we had already visited.

We are not fans of pompous luxury, we much prefer rural charm! The small garden is an enchanted green, not a show garden – very nice! The faux ruin is cool to see, jutting out between the trees, the park is great and we had a delicious lunch in the café-restaurant. Everything was great! Can I recommend Belvedere House? Yes, definitely!

Lion sculpture at Belvedere House
Lion sculpture at Belvedere House (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

Some background about Belvedere House

In 1740, Robert Rochfort, the 1st Earl of Belvedere, had Belvedere House built as a country residence and hunting lodge. The style is reminiscent of Palladianism and the semi-circular windows on the upper floor and the terraced garden are particularly noteworthy.

The folly wall, or false ruin, is the largest in Ireland. There are others, because in its day many aristocrats thought it chic to have a ruin in their garden.

Sitting room at Belvedere House
Sitting room at Belvedere House (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

The wall is also known as the jealous wall, because Robert had it built to avoid having to see his brother’s neighbouring estate. He had fallen out with his brother and put him and his own wife in prison because he suspected an affair.

The house itself is not overly large, but the estate is an impressive 64 hectares. It includes several gardens and acres of woodland and borders Lough Ennell.

Bathing water nymph at Belvedere House
Bathing water nymph at Belvedere House (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

Visiting Belvedere House

Belvedere House is located in the centre of Ireland, in the Heartlands, near Mullingar. You practically pass by here if you are travelling from Dublin to Galway or vice versa. It’s a great place for a stopover, a lunch break or simply to stretch your legs for an hour or two, as the Woodlands Trails are very inviting for a walk.

Garden at Belvedere House
Garden at Belvedere House (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

Take a look inside the house, explore the pretty “enchanted” walled garden and the folly wall and walk through the forest down to the lake.

Behind the folly wall, you’ll find a restaurant where you can enjoy a bite to eat and a small shop where you can browse.

You can find more information here:

King Malachy`s Throne, wooden sculpture at Belvedere House
King Malachy`s Throne, wooden sculpture at Belvedere House (photo: Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg)

What else there is to see in the area

Mullingar is a typical small town in the centre of the Heartlands. It has a colourful shopping street in the centre and is very lively. If you don’t want to eat at Belvedere House, here are some alternatives.

Birr Castle is a little south-west of Mullingar or south of Athlone. It is a very beautiful castle with a marvellous garden. See:

The monastery of Clonmacnoise is located directly on the River Shannon, south-west of Mullingar or south of Athlone. It dates back to the Middle Ages and is beautifully situated and very interesting to visit. See my article:

Athlone is located in the geographical centre of Ireland, directly on the River Shannon and is virtually the centre of the Heartlands, i.e. the Irish interior. See my article:

If you like Irish whiskey, you will recognise the name Tullamore Dew. In the town of Tuallmore, not far from Mullingar, you can take a distillery tour. See:


You can also experience nice surprises in the Irish interior. That’s what happened to us with Mullingar and Belvedere House, where we stopped by chance.

If you want to experience a typically Irish, colourful and lively little town, Mullingar is the place for you. And if you want to be surprised by a fake ruin, a Palladian hunting lodge, enchanted gardens and beautiful forest paths by the lake, then Belvedere House is also the place for you.

Have fun in the heart of Ireland!

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Picture credits cover picture: Folly ruin wall at Belvedere House, photo by Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg (

Uli Written by:

Hello and welcome to my blog. Originating from Germany, my family and I now live in Ireland (at least part time). We have travelled this amazing isle many times and know many parts of it very well. In this blog, I would like to share valuabe tips and information for your next trip to Ireland with you. Enjoy the content, yours, Ulrich Knüppel-Gertberg