Europe > Britain and Ireland > Ireland > East Coast and Midlands > County Longford > Longford (town)
Longford Town is the county town of County Longford. It's a quiet market town with limited attractions of its own but convenient for several prehistoric sites.
Longphort means "ship's port" yet Longford is far from the sea, and some distance from the navigable River Shannon - its tributary the Camlin flows through town but isn't suitable for anything much bigger than a kayak. The name originally applied to Viking settlements, which always had boat access, but it became adopted into Irish as the name for any large settlement. This place was sometimes distinguished as Longfort Uí Fhearghail - Longford O'Farrell, for the local rulers. The O'Farrells ruled a small state that resisted the expansion of Norman Leinster, so Longford never acquired the stout walls, bastions and abbeys of the Norman cities. It was simply a provincial market and light industrial town, growing slowly from 1855 when the railway arrived, and in 2016 it had a population of 10,008.
The Tourist Office is in Market Square, open M-F 09:30-16:30.
Trains from Dublin Connolly take just under 2 hours to Longford via Drumcondra, Maynooth and Mullingar; they continue to Dromod, Carrick-on-Shannon, Boyle, Ballymote and Sligo. There are 7 M-F, 6 Sa, 5 Sunday. A walk-up single from Dublin is €15, see Irish Rail for timetables, fares and online tckets. Longford 1 railway station is 200 m south of town centre: the ticket office is closed in 2021 but there are machines, toilets and a cafe.
Expressway Bus 22 / 23 runs six times a day from Dublin Busáras, taking 2 hours via Dublin Airport, Lucan, Maynooth and Mullingar. Bus 23 continues to Dromod, Carrick-on-Shannon, Boyle and Sligo, while Bus 22 heads west to Ballina.
Bus 65 runs once a day from Athlone to Ballymahon, Keenagh (for Corlea Trackway), Longford, Granard, Cavan, Clones and Monaghan. On Friday only it also runs from Galway to Tuam, Roscommon, Longford, Granard and Cavan.
Bus 466 runs from Athlone via Ballymahon, Keenagh and Longford, with two M-Sa and one on Sunday.
Andrew Wharton Bus 975 runs five times M-Sa from Cavan, taking 75 min.
From Dublin follow M4 to N4 past Mullingar. From Longford the N4 continues to Carrick-on-Shannon, Boyle and Sligo.
From Athlone follow N55 (for Cavan) and cut off at Ardagh onto R393.
N5 runs from Westport in County Mayo via Castlebar, Knock Airport, Tulsk and Strokestown to Longford.
From Galway it's quicker to take M6 to Athlone then N55, but you could follow N63 via Roscommon.
The town is compact but you need wheels to reach the outlying sites: they're within range of a bike.
By bus: see above for the intercity 22 / 23 from Dublin, and Bus 466 from Athlone.
Local Link buses supplement the main network: you won't find them on the Bus Éireann timetables. These are:
- LR24 Ballymahon - Keenagh - Longford, twice M-F.
- Bus 865 Granard - Ballinalee - Longford, three M-Th and six F Sa.
- 1 St Mel's Cathedral, Deanscurragh. Neoclassical RC cathedral built 1840-56 and named for St Mél of Ardagh (d 488), a nephew of St Patrick. It was destroyed by fire on 25 Dec 2009, but restored and reopened on 24 Dec 2014. Fittings include a Carrara marble altar, a silver tabernacle, a 2307-piped organ, and new stained glass windows.
- Convent of Mercy on St Joseph's Road just north of the railway station is a convent and girls' school. You may be able to look in on the Gothic Revival chapel (1870s), and the starkly simple nuns' graveyard.
- 2 Carrigglas Manor is a mansion house built 1835-50 in Tudorbethan style. It was closed to visits in 2020 / 21.
- 3 Corlea Trackway (Danes Road), Cartron Rd, Keenagh N39 XT18 (15 km south of town on R397), ☏ . Apr-mid Nov daily 10:00-18:00. In 1985 oak timbers were found in a peat-digging site; they dated to 148 BC - Iron Age - and were part of a 1 km togher, a causeway across a bog. The track, suitable for carts, crossed to a small island then another section continued for 1 km to the other side. But it doesn't seem to have been a transport route, rather an aisle into the bog for some ritual purpose. It was only used for a few years then sank, and the bog conditions preserved the timber. An 18 metre stretch of it is displayed in a humid, climate-controlled hall, while the rest has been left submerged, and the bog stabilised. Free.
- 4 Aughnacliffe 25 km north of Longford is a tiny village with a striking dolmen: it looks like giant play-bricks have been balanced on each other. It's in a field 200 m east of the lane through the village. Cleenrath is another dolmen 700 m north. There are 7 ringforts around the village, the best is Sonnagh Fort 1.5 km south. "Sonnagh" means palisade and the ringforts were probably more like fortified farms.
- What's on? Listen to Shannonside FM on 104.1 MHz, or read the Longford Leader, published Wednesday.
- Cinema: the Omniplex is on Bridge St in town centre.
- Backstage is a theatre and arts centre off Park Rd, 500 m south of the railway station.
- Gaelic football: the County GAA team play at Pearse Park, capacity 8000, 1 km north of town centre. The stadium doesn't have a resident club team.
- The Mall is the sports and leisure complex, with pool, gym and fitness classes. It's on the riverbank 500 m northeast of town centre off Templemichael Terrace.
- Longford Canal is a spur of the Royal Canal. The main canal is navigable all the way from Dublin to the Shannon, but the spur is disused, just a reedy ditch. It has pleasant trails alongside for walking and cycling. In 2020 the government announced funding to re-open the spur.
- Golf: County Longford Golf Club is 1 km southeast of town off Dublin Rd. It's a parkland course of 6075 m, par 72.
- Longford Agricultural Show is probably next held on 4 July 2021, tbc.
- The shopping centre is a block east of Main St. It has a big Tesco, open M-Sa 08:00-22:00, Su 10:00-20:00.
- Vocella's at 4 Main St is a friendly Italian bistro, open Su W Th 13:00-20:00, F Sa 13:00-21:00.
- Mekong at 46 Main Street is Asian street food, good flavour and filling portions, open M-W 12:00-22:00, Th-Su 12:00-23:00.
- Take 2 on Earl St is open M-Sa 12:00-21:00, Su 10:00-22:00. They also have rooms.
- Viewmount offers the best food in town, see Sleep.
- Keenan's: see Sleep for this bistro and hotel 5 km west on the riverside.
- In town centre are Corner House (formerly Anvil Bar), Milo's, The Greyhound, Doyles, Valentines and Lyons.
- Lough Ree Distillery is at Lanesborough, 10 km southwest on the boundary with County Roscommon. They produce gin, vodka and whiskey; no tours.
- 1 Longford Arms Hotel, 25 Main St N39 X4H6, ☏ . 3-star hotel in town centre. Most have a comfy stay, good food, but some rooms need redecorating, and the front rooms suffer from street noise.
- 2 Viewmount House, Dublin Rd N39 N2X6 (1 km southeast of town), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Excellent upscale hotel in 17th century mansion with restaurant open to non-residents. No children under 10, no dogs. B&B double from €170.
- Cathedral View Apartments are spacious self-catering apartments near the railway station.
- 3 Augherea House, Aghareagh (1 km west of town), ☏ . Stylish B&B in a 1775 coaching inn along N5. B&B double from €100.
- 4 Keenan's Hotel, Main St, Termonbarry N39 W968 (5 km west of Longford), ☏ . Pleasant riverside hotel with good bistro and bar. As it's on the west bank of the Shannon, it's in County Roscommon. B&B double from €100.
As of Jan 2021, Longford has 5G from Eir and Three, and 4G from Vodafone.
- Carrick-on-Shannon is the main base for exploring the upper Shannon and County Leitrim.
- Roscommon has a Norman castle and friary, and several prehistoric sites.