ST Mel's Cathedral. Photo: David Burke

Surprises in Longford

An ancient road, a modern miracle, a literary legacy in a midland county

A GALWAY person wouldn’t usually approach Longford from the east, but the road less travelled can be rewarding.

The morning after the annual general meeting in Mullingar of Local Ireland, the body that represents local newspapers, I set off towards Ballymahon.

Along the road I saw a sign for Center Parcs, and turned off into a forest — more a plantation — to see what this holiday mecca looks like.

A check-in cabin guarded by two security men was as far as I got — no casual visitors allowed. So you’ll have to rely on their own publicity for further information.

Ballymahon is a few miles further on, and I parked the car beside the River Inny, to be reminded immediately by a quote on the wall of this town’s most famous resident — Oliver Goldsmith.

Do they still read The Deserted Village in school? Sweet Auburn, loveliest village of the plain … Anyway, Goldsmith spent a lot of time here, and his likeness in bronze sits outside the handsome library in the centre of the town.

Once the market house, then a courthouse, this is now one of several fine libraries I saw on my sojourn in Longford, which is very conscious of its literary heritage.

Read the story in full in this week’s edition of The Tuam Herald, on sale in shops or buy the digital edition here