Attractions

Portal Tomb in Aughnacliff - Leaba Diarmuid agus Grainne.

Monuments & Monastic Sites
Throughout the county of Longford lie historical sites and monuments from the different phases of Longford’s history. Prehistoric monuments include portal tombs at Aughnacliffe and Cleenrath. There is the extraordinary Corlea Bog Trackway, near Kenagh, dating from 148 BC, part of which is preserved in a visitors’ interpretive centre. Early church and monastic sites include Ardagh, founded by St Patrick; Old Clonbroney, close to Ballinalee; and Ballinakill, near Killashee. The Motte and Bailey castle site at Granard is one of the finest of its type in Ireland, and an impressive reminder of the Anglo-Norman presence in the region. There were medieval monasteries at Abbeyshrule, Abbeylara, Abbeyderg and Saints Island. Longford also has the remains of Gaelic tower-houses, such as at Mornin and Castlerea in the Moydow area. There are some significant eighteenth and nineteenth century estate houses, amongst them Newcastle House and Ledwithstown House, both near Ballymahon; the former Ardagh Convent; and Castle Forbes, Newtownforbes. Throughout the county there are also many fine churches of the various denominations.

Political & Military Sites
In addition to such sites, the visitor can experience places associated with pivotal episodes in Irish history, including the villages of Granard and Ballinamuck, where there were battles fought during the 1798 Rebellion. One of Longford’s major political figures was General Seán MacEoin, ‘The Blacksmith of Ballinalee’, a leader in the War of Independence (1919-1921). His family Blacksmith Forge can be visited near the village of Ballinalee and so can Rose Cottage the site of his headquarters during the war. Another interesting place to visit is The Greville Arms Hotel in Granard which was once owned by the family of Kitty Kiernan, fiancée of Michael Collins. Collins was a frequent visitor to the area and had many good friends in Co Longford. Some interesting letters relating to Michael Collins and his activities hang on the wall in Clarkes Bar on Dublin Street in Longford town. They make for a fascinating read.

Literary Trails
Longford also has a very rich literary heritage. Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774) was born at Pallas, near Abbeyshrule. He is famous as a writer in many genres, including drama and poetry. Maria Edgeworth (1767-1849), though born in England, spent most of her life on her family’s estate at Edgeworthstown. She was a novelist with wide interests including education. Padraic Colum (1881-1972) was born in Longford Workhouse, where his father was master. He was a poet, playwright, biographer and folklorist as well as a lecturer in US colleges including Colombia University.  John Keegan Casey (1846-1870), known by his pen-name ‘Leo’, was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood or Fenians, and was a noted poet whose most famous work was the ballad ‘The Rising of the Moon’. He taught at schools in the Ballymahon, Cashel and Kenagh areas where his name lives on and is proudly spoken of. Driving tours of the county can be taken whereby one can visit the various historical villages, sites, and heritage centres.

Myth & Legends
It is however Longfords enchanting ancient Irish Mythology that captures the imagination most. The county has strong associations with the legendary Queen Maeve who, according to the epic Irish tale, An Táin Bo Cuailgne, overnighted with her armies in Granard while en route to steal the coveted ‘Brown Bull of Cooley’. It was also in County Longford that Queen Maeve met her death while bathing on the island of Inis Clothran on Lough Ree. Her nephew, and slayer, Furbaide Ferbend is reputedly buried on Cairn Hill, Longfords highest point. Much more ancient than this tale is the legend of Midhir and Étain set at the hill of Brí Leith in Ardagh. This love story, ’The Wooing of Étain’ which spans over a thousand years, is a tale of the lives and loves of the beautiful Étain. Recounted in the Yellow Book of Lecan, one of the earliest surviving manuscripts, it predates all the Irish stories of renown. It is a tale of the Tuatha De Dannan, the fairy people of Ireland who resided in the sídhe; portals to the underground world of the fairy people. It is a tale of transformation, the overcoming of obstacles, rebirth and regeneration and the endless cycle of life and death. It is a tale of beauty, of magic, myth and mirth which keeps locals and visitors pondering its meanings and searching for signs of the now elusive entrance to the world of the forever young. Perhaps you’ll be the one to find it !

Further information on County Longford can be found on the ‘Explore Longford’ App available to download for both Android and Apple Devices:
Android Store: http://bit.ly/1gMKZYY   Apple Store: http://bit.ly/1n104Kk

County Longford Tourism Office Market Square, Longford, Ireland    Phone: +353 (0)43 33 42577 +353 (0)85 8888876    Email: info@longfordtourism.ie