Newtownforbes

Newtownforbes Convent

Location
Newtownforbes village and its townlands are steeped in history, stories and tales from famine times and before. These are still recalled by local storytellers and historians. Newtownforbes is a lively rural village, beautifully maintained and is an ideal spot for tourist, visitor or friend.

Name
The village of Newtownforbes lies in the heart of Clonguish Parish (also spelt Cluan Guish) meaning -the meadow of the swans. The town was originally known as Lisbrack or Lios Breac which translates as the ‘speckled fort’. It gets its current name from the Forbes family, holders of the title Earl of Granard. Castleforbes is the family seat and the main entrance to the house in the centre of the village.

History & Info.
Between the village and Lough Forbes lies the beautiful demesne of Castleforbes,  a fine Castellated Mansion dating from the 17th century and is the seat of the Earls of Granard. The Forbes family resided in Castleforbes, which has its entrance in the centre of the village. The land around Newtownforbes was granted to the Forbes Family, during the time of the plantations, in the 1620s. The family was in service to the Crown and successive generations were promoted to Viscount, Baronet and eventually Earldom. The family changed the name of the village from Lisbrack to Newtownforbes in around 1750 but the post office stamp used today still has the Irish version ‘An Lios Breac’. The last Earl (the ninth) died several years ago and having no male heir the title passed onto his nephew who sold the castle soon afterwards. Unfortunately there is no public access to the Castle or the grounds which are strictly private.The village and its townlands are steeped in history and stories and tales form famine times and before can still be heard from local storytellers and historians.

Things to See & Do
Heritage sites and buildings of interest in the area include Newtown Convent, St Pauls Church and St Marys Church. Newtown Convent belonged to  the Sisters of Mercy who came to Newtownforbes from Longford around 1896 at the invitation of Lord Granard. He gave them Nazareth House, which stood where the convent is today. Lord Granard intended that the nuns would help combat the poverty and lack of education in what was a very depressed area after the Famine.  In 1872 they opened an orphanage catering for up to 150 orphans at any given time and later in the 1940s’ they started a secondary day school and boarding school which operated in this building for over 40 years. St Paul’s Church of Ireland stands at the end of the village. This church of unusual charm and character is of late Georgian architecture, and was built by the Forbes family. It is one of the few Regency buildings of its type in Ireland, having been rebuilt in 1820 to replace to replace an older church dating back to 1600. The interior of the church, unchanged in all these years, is striking and speaks of a bygone era. Family pews are on either side of the main aisle with separate pew for each family. There is a vault beneath the church where members of the Forbes family are buried.
The attached churchyard contains many old gravestones and a mausoleum where Countess Beatrice of Granard was buried in 1972. St Mary’s Roman Catholic Church is situated in the centre of the village. It was built in 1861 on the site of a thatched chapel, which was built in penal times. Large-scale reconstruction took place in 1973 and the church in its present form was re-dedicated in 1973. At the back of the church there is a vault, which has two caskets holding the remains of the Forbes family who, unlike the rest of the family, were Roman Catholic.

Information on the heritage sites of Newtownforbes 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