County Longford Welcomes Visitors

Traditional cottage in the village of Ardagh
Eoin Clarke/Getty Images

Visiting County Longford? This part of the Irish Province of Leinster has a number of attractions you will not want to miss. Plus some interesting sights that are slightly off the beaten path. So, why not take your time and spend a day or two in Longford when visiting Ireland?

Here are some ideas to make it worth your while... from the literary connections of Edgeworthstown to the windows of Harry Clarke.

  • 01 of 06

    County Longford has not made its name by providing a whole lot of exciting things, but it should not be neglected. Here are some facts that you may find interesting:

    • The Irish name of County Longford is Contae an Longfort (note the minor spelling variant) - this name derives from the Viking word for a safe harbor, a "Stronghold" or "Fortified House".
    • Car registrations issued in County Longford bear the letters LD on the numberplate.
    • The county town is Longford Town, other towns of regional importance are Ballymahon, Edgeworthstown, and Granard.
    • The size of County Longford is given as 1,034 square kilometers in surveys.
    • County Longford's number of inhabitants was counted as 39,000 in the census of 2011. There is room for more, Longford has a high number of "Ghost Estates".
    • A common nickname for County Longford is "O’Farrell County" - identifying the local big-wigs of old.
    • Players from Longford are known as "the Slashers" in GAA circles - denoting successful, if rather messy technique on the playing field.
  • 02 of 06

    St. Mel's Cathedral in Longford Town is a massive, architecturally interesting creation - not too beautiful, but also not a complete eyesore (that is just my personal opinion). What makes it interesting is the view not from, but of its windows. Some fine stained glass works by Irish artist Harry Clarke grace the cathedral. Unfortunately, the building went up in flames on Christmas 2009, but the windows survived and restoration work is ongoing.

  • 03 of 06

    Edgeworthstown has a picturesque main street and a bypass ... which is graced by a fine statue of Maria Edgeworth, selecting some reading material from a bookshelf. The writer was born here and held court for the literary luminaries of her time. None less than Sir Walter Scott and William Wordsworth followed her call into the Longford backwater. Today, Edgeworthstown does not seem to exploit the connection to Maria Edgeworth quite as much as it maybe could. Oliver Goldsmith (born in the Longford village of Pallas) is a more obvious presence, with signposts in the vicinity highlighting parts of "Goldsmith County", extending through parts of Longford.

  • 04 of 06

    The Corlea Trackway is an Iron Age trackway (in Irish “together”) that seems to cross a bog in County Longford near the village of Kenagh, west of Edgeworthstown. Also known locally as the “Danes' Road”, it has no connection to Danish Vikings and no real connection to a discernible road network. It remains mysterious enough to encourage speculation despite the very good visitor center. While working on the Corlea Bog, archaeologists discovered no less than 108 “ toghers”. Another 76 were identified on (or in) the Derryoghil bog just to the north. Most were made from simple woven hurdles, easily built and allowing people on foot to cross the bog.

    When you drive through County Longford, you will see desolate, brown areas left and right of the (often raised) roads - these are ​bogs that are being exploited for turf, some with massive machinery. Have a look, if you can safely park. Mammoth tractors towing milling machines, tiny narrow-gauge railways crisscrossing the wastes. And always that dusty feeling. Jump up and down on the exposed and dry parts of the bog ... feel how it seems to spring back, cushion you. Just don't go too far, do not get lost or in the way of machinery. And never, ever use an open fire (of carelessly flick a cigarette end away) on the bog.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Just a small village, Ardagh is often ranked amongst the most picturesque small settlements in Ireland. Clustering around the small "green", the whole village was basically created as accommodation for the servants and employees of a local landowner. Who had his own ideas on building styles - instead of going native, he modeled his village on English and Cornish prototypes. Ardagh is maybe the most "English" of all Irish villages due to this quirk.

  • 06 of 06

    Visiting County Longford and stuck for something to do in the evening? Well, you could do worse than head out into a local pub (which, by default, will be an "original Irish pub") and then join a traditional Irish session. Why not give it a try?

    Most sessions start at around 9:30 pm or whenever a few musicians have gathered. Here are some reliable venues:

    Lanesboro - "Loughree Arms"

    Longford Town - "Tally Ho"