County Longford is not as much visited as other counties that have its size and/or similar attractions and this happens, unfortunately, because it hasn't enjoyed the same popularity among tourists that the others have.
Longford is an inland county, predominantly of farmland and of low round hills occasionally spread across it. Its highest point is Carn Clonhugh (916 feet) and it has pleasant lake and river views. Bordered by counties Leitrim, Cavan, Westmeath and Roscommon, it is separated in the north-west from Roscommon by the river Shannon and its lakes.
The lover of literature should have already heard about Longford in connection with Oliver Goldsmith, Maria Edgeworth, John Casey or Padroic Colum, all of them born in this area. Maria Edgeworth grew up in the town that now bears her name, Edgeworthtown (formerly Mostrim). Great writers, such as Jane Austen and Walter Scott were admirers of hers, but she was most loved by the hundreds of people whose lives she saved during the famine.
Longford attracts thousands of tourists annually primarily for fishing and for cruising on the Shannon. The botanist will find Longford interesting for the proliferation here of some rare plants, such as the stonecrop, the bedstraw, the creeping willow, or the hedge mustard.
Longford town, the capital town of the county, is a quite busy town. The castle stone walls that can still be seen belong to a castle built later on the site of the O'Farrell's Castle, the O'Farrells being the ones who changed the name of the town in 1547, from Annaly to Longford. Most of the present-day town was built in the 18th century. St. Mel's Cathedral is one of the places to visit here; its look of incongruity is due to the fact that its construction, begun in 1840, was interrupted by the famine and resumed later, thus creating the image of two halves that do not quite match with each other. Behind the Cathedral, there's a small museum housing some interesting artefacts.
Carriglass, not far away from the county's capital town, is the location of Carriglass Manor, one of the finest Victorian country houses. It used to be the seat of the Bishops of Ardagh (together with 650 acres of estate), and, since the late 18th century, was the home of the Lefoy family. A member of this family was closely connected to the writer Jane Austen, and inspired her to create the character Mr. Darcy in the novel "Pride and Prejudice".
Edward Pakenham, who became Earl of Longford in 1915, has also brought great pride to these lands, since he was involved in the survival and later development of Dublin's Gate Theatre, later founding an acting company, too, Longford Productions Limited, that has maintained strong links with the theatre. He financed the two from his own resources and even asked for public support in order to maintain a theatre for all. He became a legend in Dublin's artistic circles also as playwright, not only as a patron of the arts.
Apart from the inviting aspect of County Longford, summer festivals are an attraction as well, and one that should not be missed by Irish traditional music lovers is the Granard Harp Festival in August.