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Longford County, Ireland

LONGFORD COUNTY, IRELAND, a county of Ireland in the province of Leinster, bounded N.W. by Leitrim, N.E. by Cavan, E. and S. by Westmeath and W. by Lough Ree and Roscommon. With the exception of Carlow, Louth and Dublin, it is the smallest county in Ireland, the area being 269,408 acres, or about 421 sq. m. The general level surface is broken occasionally by low hills, which cover a considerable area at its northern angle. The principal rivers are the Camlin, which rises near Granard and flows past Longford to the Shannon, and the Inny, which entering the county from Westmeath crosses its southern corner and falls into Lough Ree. Lough Ree is partly included in Longford, and the other principal lakes are Lough Gowna, Derrylough, Lough Drum and Lough Bannow.

The Silurian axis of Newry reaches the north of this county, where Lough Gowna lies upon it. The rest of the county, but for anticlinals which bring up Old Red Sandstone at Longford town and Ardagh, belongs to the Carboniferous Limestone plain, in which Lough Ree forms a very characteristic lake, with signs of extension by solution along its shores. Marble of fine quality has been raised. In the north indications of iron are abundant, and there are also some traces of lead.

The climate is somewhat moist and cold, and there is a large extent of marsh and bog. The soil in the southern districts resting on the limestone is a deep loam well adapted for pasture, but in the north it is often poor. The proportion of tillage to pasture is roughly as I to 2. Oats and potatoes, in decreasing quantities, are the principal crops. The numbers of cattle, sheep, pigs and poultry are well maintained. The population is almost wholly rural, but the principal industry of agriculture is supplemented by a slight manufacture of coarse woollens and linen. The Midland Great Western line from Mullingar to Sligo crosses the centre of the county by way of the county town of Longford ; and the Cavan branch touches the extreme east. The Royal Canal enters the county in the south at Abbeyshrule, and joins the Shannon near Cloondara.

The population (52,647 in 1891 ; 46,672 in 1901) decreases seriously, owing to emigration. About 90 % of the total are Roman Catholics. The only towns of any importance are Longford (the county town, pop. 3747) and Granard (1622). The county includes six baronies. Assizes are held at Longford, and quarter sessions at Ballymahon, Granard and Longford. The county is in the Protestant diocese of Ardagh, and the Roman Catholic dioceses of Ardagh and Meath. It is divided into two parliamentary divisions, north and south, each returning one member.

The early name of Longford was Annaly or Anale, and it was a principality of the O'Farrels. Along with the province of Meath, in which it was then included, it was granted by Henry II. to Hugh de Lacy, who planted an English colony. On the division of Meath into two counties in 1543, Annaly was included in Westmeath, but under a statute of 1569, for the shiring of countries not already shired, it was made shire ground under the name of Longford.

Among antiquarian remains the chief ruin is the rath called the Moat of Granard, at the end of the main street of that town. There are monastic remains at Ardagh, a former bishopric, Longford, Moydow and on several of the islands of Lough Ree. The principal old castles are those of Rathcline near Lanesborough, and Ballymahon on the Inny. The principal modern seats are those of Carrickglass on the Camlin, and Castle Forbes, the seat of the earls of Granard. Oliver Goldsmith was born at Pallas, a village near Ballymahon, in this county; and at Edgeworthstown the family of Edgeworth, of which the famous novelist Maria Edgeworth was a member, established themselves in the 16th century.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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