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An Longfort
St Mel's Cathedral, Longford
St Mel's Cathedral, Longford
Longford is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Country Ireland
Province Leinster
County County Longford
72 m (236 ft)
 • Rank 46th
 • Urban
Time zone UTC±0 (WET)
 • Summer (DST) UTC+1 (IST)
Eircode routing key
Telephone area code +353(0)43
Irish Grid Reference N135750

Longford (Irish: An Longfort) is the county town of County Longford in Ireland. It has a population of 10,008 according to the 2016 census. It is the biggest town in the county and about one third of the county's population lives there. Longford lies at the meeting of Ireland's N4 and N5 National Primary Route roads, which means that traffic traveling between Dublin and County Mayo, or north County Roscommon passes around the town. Longford railway station, on the Dublin-Sligo line, is used heavily by commuters.


The town is built on the banks of the River Camlin (from Irish: Camlinn, meaning "crooked pool"), which is a tributary of the River Shannon. The name Longford is an anglicisation of the Irish Longphort, from long (meaning "ship") and port (meaning "port" or "dock"). This name was applied to many Irish settlements of Viking origin and eventually came to mean fort or camp in the Irish language, and so Longfort the modern Irish spelling, is the name of this town, which was one of the only Gaelic Irish market towns to arise without first being founded by Vikings or Normans.

The area came under the sway of the local clan which controlled the south and middle of the County of Longford (historically called Anghaile or Annaly) and hence, the town is sometimes called Longfort Uí Fhearghail (fort/stronghold of O'Farrell).

A Dominican priory was founded there in 1400.

Places of interest

The Corlea Trackway Visitor Centre is located near to Longford, in Keenagh. The Centre houses an Iron Age bog road which was built in 148 BC across the boglands in proximity to the River Shannon. The oak road is the largest of its kind to have been uncovered in Europe and was excavated over the years by Professor Barry Raftery of University College Dublin. Inside the building, an 18-metre stretch of preserved road is on permanent display in a specially designed hall with humidifiers to prevent the ancient wood from cracking in the heat. Bord na Mona and the Heritage Service have carried out conservation work on the surrounding bog to ensure that it remains wet and that the buried road is preserved. There are other historical artefacts and some exhibits at the centre.

Longford Railway Station - - 919117
Longford Railway Station

St. Mel's Cathedral in the town features several stained glass windows by Harry Clarke studios. These include one of his earliest works The consecration of St. Mel as Bishop of Longford which was exhibited at the RDS Annual Art Industries Exhibition in 1910, where it received second prize. It was also exhibited at The Arts and Crafts Society of Ireland fourth exhibition in the same year. The Cathedral was extensively damaged in a fire on Christmas Day 2009. St. Mel's Cathedral remained closed for exactly five years following the fire while it was the centre of one of the largest restoration projects undertaken in Europe. It reopened for services at midnight mass on Christmas Eve 2014 and has since become a significant tourist attraction. The two most intricated stained-glass windows in the transepts of the Cathedral have been faithfully restored – these depict St Anne and the Resurrection.

Longford town boasts a state-of-the-art 212-seat theatre called Backstage Theatre just outside of the town, and a four-screen multiplex cinema, with restaurants. The mix and quality of housing is extensive and the Rural Renewal Hi Scheme (1999–2006) has ensured that a steady supply of residential development has come about. Longford town has a decentralised government department which employs approximately 300 people and a further 130 are employed at the Irish Prison Service's headquarters in the Lisamuck area of the town. The Prison Service HQ boasts a sculpture by renowned artist Remco de Fou which, apart from the Spire in Dublin is the largest piece of sculpture in Ireland. Connolly Barracks once employed approximately 180 soldiers, many of whom were involved in UN peace-keeping duties, until the barracks closed in January 2009.

The town serves as the cathedral town of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise. St Mel's Cathedral, dedicated to Saint Mel, the founder of the diocese of Ardagh, was designed by architect John Benjamin Keane, who also designed St. Francis Xavier's Church on Gardiner Street in Dublin.

There are a number of portal dolmens located around Longford.

Historical population
Year Pop. ±%
1813 3,062 —    
1821 3,783 +23.5%
1831 4,516 +19.4%
1841 4,966 +10.0%
1851 4,467 −10.0%
1861 4,819 +7.9%
1871 4,375 −9.2%
1881 4,380 +0.1%
1891 3,827 −12.6%
1901 3,747 −2.1%
1911 3,760 +0.3%
1926 3,685 −2.0%
1936 3,807 +3.3%
1946 4,020 +5.6%
1951 3,845 −4.4%
1956 4,167 +8.4%
1961 4,073 −2.3%
1966 4,129 +1.4%
1971 4,791 +16.0%
1981 6,548 +36.7%
1986 6,835 +4.4%
1991 6,824 −0.2%
1996 6,984 +2.3%
2002 7,557 +8.2%
2006 8,836 +16.9%
2011 9,601 +8.7%
2016 10,310 +7.4%



Longford is at the point of divergence of the N5 road to Castlebar/Westport/Ireland West Airport Knock and the N4 road which continues onwards to Sligo.

The N5 originally started in the town centre, causing occasional traffic congestion. The town's bypass opened on 3 August 2012.

The N4 Sligo road has a bypass around the town, which consists of single carriageway with hard shoulders and four roundabouts. It was opened on 2 June 1995.


Longford is about 91 kilometres (57 mi) from Sligo and 122 km (76 mi) from Dublin. It lies on the Dublin-Sligo line of the Irish railway network, and is served by Sligo-Dublin intercity services. Despite its distance from Dublin, the town also has a regular, well-utilised commuter service to Dublin. Journeys to Dublin Connolly by rail generally take about an hour and three-quarters. Longford railway station opened on 8 November 1855.


The Royal Canal reopened in October 2010 after years of being derelict and overgrown. Navigation is now possible from Spencer Dock, in Dublin, to the Shannon, in Clondra.


There are a number of bus services to Dublin and other towns both outside and inside the county provided by both the state (Bus Éireann) and private bus companies (Kane's, Donnelly's and Farrelly's.) Third level colleges are also served by the private companies during the academic year.

Donnelly's Pioneer Bus Service, a local bus company based in Granard, operate a route from Longford to Granard via Ballinalee. There are three journeys each way daily (no Sunday service).

Whartons Travel, which is also a local bus service, operate a route from Longford railway station and Longford to Cavan via Drumlish, Arvagh and Crossdoney. As of 2014, this service is funded by the National Transport Authority.


Longford's main air transport centre is located south-east of the town, at Abbeyshrule. Abbeyshrule Aerodrome receives a regular influx of small general aviation aircraft, including the Cessna 182 and 150. The airport also has two flight training centres; one for general aviation fixed wing aircraft training (Aeroclub 2000) and one for microlight aircraft flight training (Ultraflight).


  • Willie Browne, (1936–2004), Republic of Ireland international footballer.
  • Frank Butler, (1847–1926), a.k.a. Francis E. Butler, famed rifleshot who toured the US (1876–1884), and husband-manager of American sharpshooter Annie Oakley.
  • James Dooley, Australian politician, Premier of New South Wales, born Longford 1877
  • Pádraic Colum,(1881–1972), Poet.
  • Ray Flynn, Irish mile record holder, grew up in Longford.
  • Michael Gomez, champion professional boxer was born in an Irish Traveller family in Longford.
  • Eddie Macken, Irish equestrian show jumper (Granard).
  • Brendan O'Reilly, (Gaelic: Bréanainn Ó Raghailligh)(1929–2001), Irish broadcaster & athlete (Granard).


Climate in this area has mild differences between highs and lows, and there is adequate rainfall year-round. The Köppen Climate Classification subtype for this climate is "Cfb" (Marine West Coast Climate/Oceanic climate).

Climate data for Longford
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °C (°F) 6.7
Average low °C (°F) 0.6
Precipitation mm (inches) 79
Source: Weatherbase


Longford Chamber of Commerce
Homebase and Argos outlets in the town (2007)

Longford's main industries are food production, sawmills, steelworking, generator retailing, cable making and the production of medical diagnostics. It is the major services centre for the county as well as the location of the Department of Social Welfare and the Irish Prison Service. The town is also a local commercial centre, with a number of retail outlets including multiples such as Tesco, and Argos, German discount retailers, Aldi and Lidl and Irish retail outlets such as Dunnes Stores and Penneys. A retail park, the N4 Axis Centre, opened in Longford in January 2006.

Longford town has a decentralized government department which employs approximately 300 people, and a further 130 are employed at the Irish Prison Service's headquarters in the town. Connolly Barracks once employed approximately 180 soldiers, many of whom were involved in UN peace-keeping duties, until the barracks closed in January 2009.

While construction was formerly a major local employer, following the post-2008 Irish economic downturn, there were job losses in the construction industry and an increase in unemployment in the region.


The town has a number of sports clubs and facilities, including the Gaelic Athletic Association, rugby and tennis clubs, a League of Ireland soccer club, two indoor swimming pools, a gym and an 18-hole golf course. A swimming pool was opened in Longford in 2007.

Gaelic football and hurling

The sport with most support in County Longford is Gaelic football. The headquarters of the Longford Gaelic Athletic Association is located in Pearse Park in Longford Town, with a ground capacity of around 11,000. The Longford Gaelic football team won a Leinster title at Senior level in 1968 and a National League title in 1966. The minor (under-18) Longford county team won the Leinster title in 2002 and 2010. The major boys' secondary school in Longford town, St. Mel's College, also has a tradition in secondary schools' football (known as Colleges A), winning 29 Leinster and 4 All-Ireland titles (in the Hogan Cup). The main local GAA club is Longford Slashers, based in Longford town, who have won more Longford Senior Football Championship titles (16) than any other team in the county, including a win in 2013.


Longford town itself has a strong tradition in soccer, the game being introduced in the late 19th century. The town was a military base garrison when Ireland was a part of the United Kingdom. Longford Town football club was founded in 1924 and was elected to the League of Ireland in 1984. In the 1950s and 60s, Longford was home to players such as Willie Browne (UCD and Bohemian FC; who won 3 full international Republic of Ireland caps and captained Bohemian FC for 3 consecutive seasons), Lal Donlon (Longford town and Arsenal), Mel 'Garrincha' Mulligan, John 'Hooky' O'Connor and Billy Clarke. The Longford Town football club ground is at City Calling Stadium, in the townland of Mullolagher, to the west of the town, on the Strokestown Road. Previously, the club was based in the north of Abbeycarton town. The Longford Town football club has twice won the FAI Cup, in 2003 and 2004, and has competed in the UEFA Cup as a result.

Other sports

Longford has a parkland golf course.

Longford is represented in basketball by two clubs. Torpedo's were formed in 1973 and have competed in the Meath, Cavan, Mid-lands and National leagues. They now play in the Shannon Side League in Men's and North East League in Ladies'. Ladies and Men's teams play home games in Edgeworthstown. They hold an annual tournament at the end September start of October each season with 16 teams from all over Ireland and the UK entering. The second club which was a break away unit of the Torpedo's are Longford Falcons. The club has had a number of Leinster and national titles won at the junior level. The club is based at the Mall Sports Complex, in the east of the town.

Longford town also hosts a rugby club, Longford RFC, whose grounds are located at Demesne, in the north of the town, and who participate in the Leinster League.

Longford's largest sports complex/amenity, known locally as The Mall, contains a swimming pool, gym, both indoor and outdoor football and basketball grounds. There is also outdoor gym equipment around the complex. The Mall itself is a walking spot in the town, a lap of which is approximately 2 km.


Longford town has a number of primary schools (for ages 4–12) and three secondary schools (for ages 12–19): two single-sex schools, St. Mel's College (a Catholic boys' school), and Scoil Mhuire (a Catholic girls' school run by the Sisters of Mercy), as well as a mixed school, (Templemichael College, formerly known as Longford Vocational School). Primary schools in Longford include a Gaelscoil and St. Joseph's. There is also an adult education centre in Longford.

St. Mel's College is the oldest of these schools, being founded in the 1860s by the Roman Catholic Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois as a diocesan seminary to train students for the priesthood. While the school only briefly functioned as a seminary, it served for many years as a boarding school, while also admitting day students. The boarding school was discontinued after 2000 and the school is now only a day school, with the largest student enrolment in County Longford.

See also

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