Lanesborough is scenically located on the banks of the River Shannon at the northern end of Lough Ree, approximately 10 miles southwest of Longford town.
The ancient Irish name of Lanesborough was ‘Beal Atha Liag’ which translates as “Ford of the Flagstone” as it was a crossing point on the river.
History & Info
Lanesborough is divided in two by the River Shannon, the portion of the town on the western side of the River lies in County Roscommon. The eastern side of the river became known as Lanesborough following the granting of Rathcline Castle and lands, to Lord Lane on 24 August 1664 by King Charles II, in recognition of his loyalty to the crown. Lord Lane was grandson of Captain George Lane who came to Ireland during Elizabeth I reign and married the daughter of Cormac O’Farrell. In 1664, Charles II granted Lord Lane a Royal Borough and this is how the Longford side of ‘Beal Atha Liag’ became known as Lanesborough. The town has seen many battles and invasions over the centuries from the time the Vikings first started invading Ireland from the 9th century to the 11th century. The churches and monasteries were plundered and robbed several times during this period. These raids prompted the first bridge to be built in the towns defence against these raids. On the morning of the fair day in Lanesborough in February 1702, the ferry carrying 46 people and their fair day goods, capsized. Thirty five of those on board drowned. A stone bridge was then built in 1706 as a result of this tragedy. The Lane coat of arms was carved in the bridge after the Right Hon. Lord Viscount Lanesborough gave one hundred pounds towards the bridge.
Things to See & Do
Lanesborough is noted for its fine angling, most particularly at its ‘hot water stretch’, which attracts anglers from all over Europe.The River Shannon and Lough Ree offer countless opportunities for water sporting activities including cruising. In addition to the towns prime location on the River Shannon, it is also surrounded by vast stretches of raised bogland unique to the midlands of Ireland. The Commons is a rich ecological area south of Lanesborough which contains an area of mixed woodland, limestone quarry, reedbed systems grading into freshwater marsh and dense species of rich scrub/verge grassland. It provides a wonderful setting for a tranquil walk amongst nature. Lanesboro/Ballyleague is a thriving community which hosts a number of annual events including the renowned Lough Ree Environmental Summer School, an aquathon, a triathlon and an International Harp Festival by Windsong Music School. The town has several public houses with live music and entertainment at weekends. There are also shops, restaurants and every modern convenience a town requires.
Heritage sites and buildings of interest in the town and its environs include St Johns Church of Ireland, which dates back to the 5th Century, and is one of the oldest buildings in Lanesboro. It was plundered during the Cromwellian and Williamite wars but was finally rebuilt in 1861. The church which lies on the outskirts of the town and is still in use, is a limestone building with large windows and gothic arches. In nearby Rathcline stand the ruins of Rathcline Castle. Situated 2km from the town of Lanesborough, overlooking Lough Ree, it was built around the 9th Century by the O’Quinn clan. Later it was fought for and taken by the O’Farrell clan and subsequently taken over by the Normans around the beginning of the 12th Century. Most interesting about this structure is the inclusion of a Sile na Gig on the Northern splay. This ancient representation of female sexuality, rebirth and regeneration is the best of two to be seen in the county, the other being located at Abbeylara Monastery.
For more information on the heritage sites of Lanesborough visit the Explore Longford App available to download here: