Granard

Granard Motte and Bailey

Location
Granard is a large busy town in North Longford. Steeped in history and folklore, the town as it stands today is actually the new town of Granard.  A medieval walled town ‘old Granard’, once existed  in the townland of Granardkille. The site at Granardkille is believed to be the only one of its type in Ireland. It was burnt to the ground by Edward Bruce in November 1315 after Con O’Farrell refused to submit to him and thereafter abandoned.

Name
The name Granard has many meanings – The Hill of the Sun, The Hill of the Grain or Ugly Height.

History & Info
This may in part be due to the existence of the Granard Motte and bailey which stands 534 ft above sea level and is reputed to be the highest Motte in Ireland. Its summit affords a view of five lakes, parts of nine counties and faint outline of the Sliabh Bloom Mountains. The Motte is a great flat-topped earthen mound, on top of which would have been a timber tower surrounded by a palisade. Across the base was a U-shaped bailey, an enclosure surrounded by a palisade ditch within which animals and soldiers would have been housed. It is very strongly fortified except on the southern side, which seems to have been guarded solely by the deep trench on the summit, out of which defenders fired arms and hurled stone missiles at the approaching enemy. A very ancient structure, it is believed to have been erected some time before the Danish era although possibly on a much older and pre -existing site of pagan worship.

Granard features as part of the route of the Táin Trail, made famous by the Irish epic The Táin Bo Cuailgne. Ancient annals record that Queen Maeve of Connaught and her army spent a night in Granard before continuing their journey to the Cooley Peninsula. In 1199 the Motte and bailey was occupied by Richard de Tuite as part of an initiative to extend Norman control over the country. Many myths are attached to the site, some maintain the hollow in the centre was a grain store, others say there is a castle concealed within it, while even others say it contains vast treasures of gold ! In more recent years a statue of St Patrick was erected atop the Motte to commemorate the saints visit and work in Granard after leaving St Mel as bishop in Ardagh. At the time of St Patrick Granard was one of the chief seats of pagan worship so he founded a church there and he left Guasacht, son of Melchu, in charge. Melchu was the man who bought St Patrick from the slave dealers and held him in captivity for six years. Guasacht is sometimes called St Patrick’s foster-brother. He was buried at Granard where his relics are still venerated.

Things to See & Do
Granard is best known for its Traditional Harp Festival as well as its political associations with Irelands great Military hero Michael Collins and his Fiancée Kitty Kiernan who was a native of the town. The Kiernan family owned what is now The Greville Arms Hotel in Granard town centre. Buildings of interest in the town include the Market House, built in 1785 and once owned by the Greville family, it was refurbished c1980 and is now in use as a branch library. St Marys Church, built in 1867 by John Bourke enjoys a splendid setting at the top of the towns main street, with the great Norman motte behind it while St. Patricks Church close to the Motte, was originally the site of Catholic worship in Granard. The present building is thought to have been built in the early part of the 18th century.

Granard is surrounded by several beautiful lakes such as Lough Gowna and Lough Kinale as well as being convenient to many other excellent angling locations. Derrycassin Woods, located on the shores of Lough Gowna provides some wonderful forest walks for those who wish to while away an hour or two in quiet contemplation of nature. For those with an interest in the ancient history of Ireland, there are several sites of holy wells, crannogs, standing stones and stone circles as well as the nearby ruins of Abbeylara Monastery. The town itself has plenty of public houses with live music and entertainment on weekends as well as shops and other conveniences. Granard plays host to a number of great festivals and events throughout the year as well as their own St Patricks Day Parade.

Information on the heritage sites of Granard can be found on the Explore Longford App available to download here:

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