North Longford Tour

North Longford Lake View.

Newtownforbes: The driving route for the Northern part of County Longford begins by taking the N4 to Newtownforbes, a lively village, and an ideal spot for tourist, visitor or friend. Between the village and Lough Forbes lies the beautiful demesne of Castleforbes, a fine Castellated Mansion dating from the 17th century and once the seat of the Earls of Granard. Unfortunately there is currently no public access to the Castle or the grounds which are strictly private. Other buildings of interest in the village are both the Catholic Church in the centre of the village, and St Pauls Church of Ireland Church which stands at the end of the village. Newtown Convent is another historical building in the village, originally the site of Nazareth House which was given to the sisters of Mercy c1896 by Lord Granard.

Drumlish:  From Newtownforbes you connect with the R198 in the direction of Drumlish, another lively and historical village. Heritage sites and items of interest in Drumlish include the Drumlish Mill and the Landwar Monument. The old Kilmahon graveyard is also located in this area, just outside the village, en route to Ballinamuck. Access to Corn Hill (Cairn Hill), Longfords highest point is possible from the village and is usually climbed by the locals on the first Sunday in June.

Ballinamuck: The next stop is the village of Ballinamuck. This is the site of the famous battle of Ballinamuck which took place in 1798. An exhibition is housed in the historic RIC Barracks and visits to the various battle sites are possible. Toberpatrick Cemetary and Holy Well is located outside the village near Lough Nabelwy. The fabulous views of the many lakes along the Longford/Leitrim border, make this a beautiful drive on a good day. Edenmore Bog Walk is also located in this area.

Moyne & Arvagh: Further North are the villages of Moyne and Arvagh which is located on the Longford/Cavan border. There are several crannogs on the lakes in the area of Moyne as well as the site of a megalithic tomb. Gulladoo Lough provides a scenic setting for picnics and swimming during the summer months. Those with a love of Angling flock to this part of the county due to the many excellent fishing  lakes. An excellent example of a traditional thatched cottage can be seen in this area and is the site for monthly ceili dances.

Aughnacliff & Lough Gowna: Aughnacliff is the next small village en route and is the location of the Aughnacliff and Cleenrath Portal Dolmens. The Aughnacliff tomb,known locally as ‘Leaba Diarmada agus Gràinne’, is according to folklore, one of the many beds upon which Diarmuid and Gràinne slept while fleeing  Fionn mac Cumhaill. Dernafest is a scenic area on Lough Gowna which is used by locals during the summer months for swimming, boating and taking picnics. There are nice places for walking along the shores of Lough Gowna and many excellent sites for angling. The busy village of Loch Gowna is surrounded by lakes and small islands providing a beautiful backdrop for local summer weddings.

Mullanalaghta &Dring:  These are the villages en route to the larger town of  Granard. There are lots of wonderful views of the countryside in these townlands. Derrycasson Woods, a beautiful woodland forest, is located in Dring, on the banks of Lough Gowna.  There is also an impressive Ringfort or ‘rath’ dating from the 7th -9th century. Wonderful views of Inchmore, upon which the ruins of an ancient Priory and Church stand, can be seen from the mainland.

Granard: Granard itself has several heritage  buildings of interest, including the Town Hall, Library and Market House. The Greville Arms Hotel in also of interest as it was once the home of Kitty Kiernan, fiancé of the famous political hero Michael Collins.  Granard is also the site of a large Norman Motte and Bailey, the highest of its type in Ireland. The town has a fascinating and varied history and the area is particularly rich in standing stones, holy wells and stone circles, the most impressive being in Cartronbore.

Abbeylara: A short detour out of Granrd takes the driver to the village of Abbeylara on the shores of Lough Kinale and Derragh Lough. This is the site of Abbeylara Cistercian Abbey, founded in 1214 by Sir Richar Tuite. The site may be much older and have been the site chosen for an ecclesiastical foundation by Saint Patrick when he visited the locality in 460AD. It is the location of a very ancient ‘Sheela na Gig’, symbol of the Divine Hag of the Celts, source of life, death and regeneration. Derragh Lough is the site of a Crannóg dated to approx. 1000AD and nearby Lough Kinale is a Mesolithic site. Both sites, as well as nearby Ballywillan Crannóg have given up treasures now housed in the National Museum of Ireland. The Lough Kinale Shrine, chalice and other ecclesiastical objects date to the 6th,7th 8th and early 9th and indicate that these sites were of an ecclesiastical nature.

Ballinalee: Leaving Abbeylara and driving via Granard on the R194 takes one to the village of Ballinalee. En route visit the Clonfin Memorial erected at the site of the Clonfin Ambush which took place during the War of Independence. Ballinalee is famous as the birthplace of General Sean Mac Eoin, who led the ambush at Clonfin. He was the leader of the IRA’s North Longford Flying Column. A statue of Mc Eoin has recently been unveiled by the Taoiseach of Ireland in the village of Ballinalee.  Rose Cottage, the site of Mc Eoins headquarters during the War of Independence can also be seen at the crossroads of the village. Bullys Acre in the centre of the village is the point at which Irish  rebels were executed by the British after the Battle of Ballinamuck in 1798. There are several lakes in the vicinity which are excellent for fishing as well as providing scenic spots for picnicking during the summer, Gorteen  and Currygrane are favourites. Acres Pitch and Putt course is scenically located on the shores of Gurteen Lough.

Corn Hill (Cairn Hill): Corn Hill, ( Carn Clonhugh, Cairn Hill ) standing 278m, is the highest point in County Longford, Ireland. It  lies between Drumlish and Ballinalee, in the parish of Killoe. There are two cairns/passage tombs atop the hill. Legend suggests that one of those is the burial place of Queen Meaves nephew Furbuidhe Ferbend who was slain here by her followers after he killed her while she bathed in the waters of Inchcleraun Island on Lough Ree. The larger cairn is reputed to be called (Carn Caille) after an ancient hag/witch who dropped stones from her apron as she flew over the hill. In times gone by locals made an annual pilgrimage to the summit of the hill on the first Sunday in June. While the walk to the summit is pleasant,  views of the countryside can be somewhat obstructed by the wooded part of the hill.

Ennybegs/Killoe: The village of Ennybegs in the parish of Killoe is home to The James Farrell Titanic Monument and  Garden. Unveiled on the 15th April 2012, the monument is a memorial to the valiant deeds of Killoe native James Farrell who was a passenger aboard the doomed maiden voyage of The Titanic in 1912. The anchor for the monument was donated by Belfast Harbour Commissioners while the engraved stone was taken from the ruined walls of the Farrell homestead in clonee, Killoe. The last section of the Northern driving route passes Carriglass Demesne which is also located in the parish of Killoe. Carrigglas Manor, a beautiful Gothic revival style manor house was built by Thomas Lefroy in 1837. The romantically castellated and turreted house was designed by the prominent Irish architect, Daniel Robertson of Kilkenny. Chief Justice Thomas Lefroy, who built the house, was a youthful inamorato of the novelist Jane Austin. It is frequently suggested that the character Darcy in Pride and Prejudice was modelled on him. The Manor House and grounds are currently non access

Information on the tours and trails of County Longford can be accessed on The ‘Explore Longford’ App available to download for both Apple iOS and Android Devices
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County Longford Tourism Office Market Square, Longford, Ireland    Phone: +353 (0)43 33 42577 +353 (0)85 8888876    Email: info@longfordtourism.ie