Linked Gateway of Athlone, Tullamore and Mullingar
Athlone, Tullamore and Mullingar have been designated by the Irish government as a linked gateway in the National Spatial Strategy (NSS). This builds on their strategic, central location in ‘heart’ of Ireland and as the principal urban centre of the Midland Region. This linked gateway is the focus for economic development in the Midlands.
The linked gateway currently has an urban population of 50,791 with some 450,000 residing within a 60 km radius. Regional transport connectivity has been enhanced considerably in recent years with the completion of the M4 (Dublin-Sligo) and the M6 (Dublin- Galway) inter-urban routes. The linked gateway is connected by motorway to Dublin and Dublin International Airport, and has connectivity to the main railway routes of, Dublin – Galway and the Dublin - Sligo routes.
Athlone is located on the River Shannon and Lough Ree and has a population of 15,488. Leisure activities include water sports, horse riding and racing, hunting, tennis, rugby, soccer and Gaelic football. A variety of gyms/leisure centres and spas are all available in the town. The Dean Crowe Memorial Hall, home to the All Ireland Drama Festival is located in Athlone. There are a number of quality restaurants and hotels with conference facilities in the town also. Athlone presents excellent residential options including top end corporate housing to apartments and starter homes for both sale and rent.
In addition to a range of schooling options, Athlone is home to the Athlone Institute of Technology, the Midlands Region’s third level college with a student population of 6,000 (full and part time) producing c. 1,800 graduates per annum. Athlone is also home to the regional office of FAS (The National Training Agency) – with an output of c.3,000 trainees per annum.
Multinational companies operating in Athlone include: Ericsson (telecommunications software), Elan Corporation (pharmaceutical); Covidien (medical products); KCI (medical products); Teleflex (European HQ); AXA Assistance (24 hour customer support centre) and Georgia Tech Ireland (Research Centre).
Tullamore is situated on the Silver River and has a population of 14,409. The Grand Canal, historically the transport system that linked the town to Dublin, flows through Tullamore and is an attractive amenity for tourists and boating enthusiasts. The canal is linked to the River Shannon.
Tullamore has extensive schooling options and is the Administrative Headquarters of the Midlands Health Services Executive and is home to the new state of the art, 300 bed Midland Regional Hospital.
Tullamore is a major sporting town with athletics, football, hurling, rugby, soccer, tennis, rowing and swimming clubs. Other activities catered for include fishing, boating, mountaineering, horse trekking and hunting. Indoor activities include gyms, sports complex, drama/musical society, badminton and squash. The town has a choice of quality hotels with conference facilities, restaurants and choice of golf courses.
The town functions as an important business centre involving manufacturing and services, overseas companies with significant operations in Tullamore include Covidien (medical devices), Sennheiser Ireland (Sound Systems and Centre of Excellence for Acoustic Transducer Technology), Isotron Ireland (ETO sterilisation), Integra LifeSciences (surgical instruments) and GeneMedix (biogeneric pharmaceutical products).
Mullingar is located on the river Brosna, is surrounded by numerous lakes and has a population of 19,794. In addition to providing ideal locations for anglers, the lakes are suitable for water sports, with windsurfing, sub-aqua, sailing facilities and clubs all very active. The historic Belvedere House and Gardens on the shores of Lough Ennell, just 5 km (4 miles) from Mullingar is the number one tourist attraction of the Midland Region. The town has an 18-hole championship golf course and hosts the annual Internationally-renowned Mullingar Scratch Cup. Mullingar is well catered for by excellent Hotels & Country Houses. Mullingar greyhound racing stadium is a popular tourist attraction.
Mullingar has a wide range of primary and secondary (high school) options and also is home to both the Mullingar General Hospital and St Francis Private Hospital.
In addition to its base of Irish owned companies, Mullingar is a proven location for overseas companies across a number of sectors. The towns manufacturing base of overseas companies includes Taconic International (teflon coated fabrics), Capmark Services Ireland Ltd (commercial mortgage admin centre), Oakley Optical Ireland (prescription eyewear) and Patterson Pumps (fire pumps).
Gateway Implementation Forum
Following the publication of the National Spatial Strategy and the designation of Athlone, Tullamore and Mullingar as the linked gateway, Offaly and Westmeath Local Authorities jointly commissioned Indecon International Economic Consultants and Keith Simpson Associates to prepare a Strategic Development Framework for the Midlands Gateway, which was published in November 2006. The Gateway Implementation Forum was established on an inter agency basis to implement the recommendations of the Indecon Report. The Gateway Implementation Forum comprises of Offaly and Westmeath Local Authorities, Midland Regional Authority, IDA Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, the Midland Gateway Chamber of Commerce, Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Health Service Executive, Athlone Institute of Technology, Failte Ireland and FAS.