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One of the smallest of the Irish counties, and centrally-located, Longford lies in the basin of the River Shannon, with Lough Ree forming much of the western border of the county. Generally low-lying, with just the occasional hill, Longford is a landscape of pasture, wetland and bog, with some picturesque lakeland aspects and quiet expanses of farmland.
Things to do in County Longford
Meanwhile, the ancient Corea Trackway is, perhaps, one of the hidden historical gems of Ireland. In contrast to the natural geological wonder of the Giant's Causeway to the north in County Antrim (which is a registered World Heritage Site), Longford's Corea Trackway is a most amazing man made landmark. Thought to have been built to assist access to the surrounding bogland, this Iron Age trackway is known variously by locals as the 'Danes Road' and the 'Old Bog Road', and is thought to have been constructed of oak, hazel, birch and alder planks, packed lengthways to create an ancient roadway for carts. At least a kilometre in length, and largely well preserved when it sank into the bog, Corea is the largest track of its kind to have been uncovered anywhere in Europe to date. An 18 metre section of the trackway has recently been preserved within a new indoor visitors centre.
Longford – On the main route between Dublin and Sligo, on the banks of the River Camlin, Longford town is ideally placed for visitors who wish to explore the delights of this fine county. The town courthouse is the oldest and most historic building in Longford, whilst the large Renaissance dome and the grey limestone walls of the 19th century St Mels Cathedral are visible well beyond the town limits. Once the location for an annual banjo festival, plans are now afoot to reinstate the once-popular Summer carnival. A weekly farmers market is held in the Market Square every Friday.
Ardagh – This designated heritage village was constructed in the 1860s to a Swiss design, and is featured in Oliver Goldsmith's 18th century play, 'She Stoops to Conquer'. The area is particularly proud of its links with storytelling and bookish pursuits, listing Maria Edgeworth and Sir Walter Scott as other notable local literary associations.
Granard – Enjoying an elevated position over the surrounding countryside, and close to beautiful lakes and fine forests, including Lough Gowna and the Derrycassin Woods, Granard is the second largest town in the county. It is also the location of the biggest Norman earthworks in Ireland, which dominate the town and were once the site of the late 12th century castle built by Richard Tuite. Located between three rivers, the town is a popular centre for both trout and coarse fishing.
Abbeylara – This pretty rural settlement takes its name from a 13th century Cistercian monastery, the ruins of which are still visible on the edge of the village. Nearby Lough Kinale and Lough Derragh offer excellent trout, bream, tench and pike fishing, and both the river and the lakes are popular with leisure boat enthusiasts.
Newtowncashel – A pretty village close to the shores of Lough Ree, Newtowncashel is noted for its well maintained stone walls and numerous bog art sculptures. Approached via a causeway, Saints Island is just a short walk from the village, with the remains of an Augustinian monastery and its own ancient graveyard. The ruins of Elfeet castle are also still visible nearby. Meanwhile, the fine cut-stone of Barley Harbour offers safe mooring and pretty picnic spots on the edge of Lough Ree.
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