Longford often describes itself as a hidden gem, meaning most people don’t know about it. However if you are seeking a high quality of Life, Longford has a lot to offer.
Property is cheap
Your money goes a long way in Longford. Whether it’s buying or renting, prices are still recovering from the economic crash and Longford is one of the most affordable locations in the country. A large country house can be purchased for the price of a ‘shoe box’ townhouse elsewhere in the country. Prices are rising quickly but there are still amazing opportunities. Your dream home is possible in Longford.
Longford Town & Rural living
The county is principally a rural area with Longford town being the main urban centre with a population of over 10,000. There are a lot of vibrant villages throughout the county including three former tidy towns’ winners, all within a maximum of 20 mins drive from Longford Town. A lack of traffic congestion means a morning commute is short & stress free.
Jobs … yes really
The recession hit provincial Ireland hard. Construction came to a halt and in Longford unemployment soared. However, Longford is fortunately home to a number of very prominent businesses such as Abbot Laboratories, Green Isle foods, Finesse Medical, Tool & Plastic all competing for third level graduates. The Irish prison service is headquartered in Longford and the department of social welfare has substantial offices here. Centre Parcs are starting construction of a holiday resort just outside Ballymahon in spring 2017, which will employ 1000 when fully operational. A lot of speculatively built commercial property built in the boom year’s means setting up a business is much cheaper in Longford with modern office space and industrial units and low retail rents giving easy opportunities to expand.
It’s an education
When raising a family one of the greatest concerns is getting children into good schools. While third level courses are more restricted in the county with most students travelling to nearby Athlone IT. Longford is blessed with a number of great national schools including a Gaelscoil, where waiting lists are not a massive issue. There are 10 secondary schools in the county all with excellent academic reputations.
Despite the downturn and a number of vacant retail shops in the town, Longford has somehow remained a great shopping destination with a number of unique local award winning shops & boutiques. The quality of coffee shops has improved dramatically in recent years and the car parking is amongst the cheapest in the region. All the major supermarkets are represented and the current trend is for more multiple retailers opening in the town.
Eating, Drinking, Culture & Dancing
During the economic boom Longford did not have the variety of restaurants it does now. The Aubergine bistro, Indian Spice, Mekong & Rising Sun Chinese restaurants in the town have all thrived in recent years. Viewmount house with celebrity chef Gary O’ Hanlon has brought some high acclaimed fine dining to the town. In Ballymahon, Nine Arches is a new welcome addition. Crossing the Shannon into Tarmonbarry Keenan’s Pub & the Purple Onion add to the variety and are just 5-10 mins drive from Longford town. Afterwards you might want to hit the Pubs, which creates a dilemma, the village local or into the town. Catch a film in the Omniplex or up to the Backstage for a play, I hear the St. Mel’s Musical Society’s latest one is hilarious. Either way, you will probably still end up in the Spiral Tree Night club or Luigi’s for the chips at the end of the night.
Living in Longford you will probably not be celebrating Leinster GAA titles a lot… but what is seldom is beautiful and our Club sides often punch well above their weight in the Leinster championship. Twice holders of the FAI cup Longford town got relegated from the premier division last year but intend making a swift return. Longford’s Rugby club is the envy of all provincial towns with top class facilities and the popular Sin bin bar & restaurant. These three most popular sports have a huge youth aspect with high quality coaching. The mall sports complex hosts five a side on Astro & indoor and has a 25 meter six lane swimming pool & Gym. Longford Cycling & Tri clubs are very active and growing fast. Longford Golf club is a parkland golf course close to the town centre and within 30 mile radius there are championship courses such as Mullingar, Glasson and Sliabh Russell. The Tennis club features fine savannah courts and has a popular mixed doubles night on a Friday. Due to the Shannon and lakes around Longford water skiing, wakeboarding & Canoeing / kayaking are common pursuits.
While we are on the subject, the River Shannon runs all along the western border of the county where Leinster, Ulster and Connaught all converge. This is intersected by the Royal Canal at Clondra which now features a cycle & walkway path all the way into Longford Town. The River Inny also flows into the Shannon and this is particularly renowned for the short rapids just North of Ballymahon that make it an ideal white water canoeing spot. Longford’s St. Mels Cathedral is a modern day phoenix rising from the ashes, dominating the town skyline it was almost completely destroyed by fire Christmas morning 2009 rebuilt & restored within 5 years the modern interpretation and craftsmanship is fascinating. The north of the county is dominated by Cairn Hill (a torture spot for the enthusiastic cyclist) and the beautiful countryside around the Lough Gowna system of lakes. This is a popular area for fishing and Derrycassin Woods hosts one of Ireland’s finest old estate walkways. The south of the county is dominated by Lough Ree and the Bogs, in which the Corlea trackway visitor centre shows off the Iron Age trackway dating back to 148 bc. Also coming out of the Bog are the amazingly beautiful bog oak sculptures created by Michael & Kevin Casey which operate out of a studio in picturesque Barley Harbour in Newtowncashel. But then again there are ‘Hidden gems, throughout the county. The Granard Motte with commanding views of the surrounding countryside, the ‘hot water stretch’ in Lanesboro is renowned amongst fisherman throughout Europe. The heritage & tidy town winners of Ardagh Village, Newtowncashel & Abbeyshrule (also known for its airfield). All a bit boring for you? Time to go to Edgeworthstown for Go-Karting on a championship track or paintballing. This section is getting too long…. too many to mention!
In the heart of Ireland
Situated along the N4 Dublin – Sligo Road & N5 Dublin Castlebar Road, Longford is just c. 90 km from the Dublin M50, or an hours’ drive. My friends often joke with me ‘Longford, convenient to other places’, but it is true. Commuters and businesses are finding that getting to Dublin is pretty easy Monday to Friday there are 10 rail services with commuter and intercity trains to Dublin along the Dublin-Sligo line and 9 return services starting as early as 5:40am. Sligo on the Wild Atlantic way is just an hour’s drive. Did I put Surfing in the sporting section? From this north Midlands location whether it’s getting to Cavan and across the border, west to Mayo or Galway, south to Athlone. These areas are all within easy reach.
You will be welcomed
Longford is a very welcoming place, being a smaller county it easy to get to know people and make friends. In selling houses its notable the number of people not originally from the county, but spent time here due to work or relationships, that end up returning settling in a place they felt at home.
You won’t be made feel like a ‘blow in’ in Longford, we’re just happy you decided to live here.
This is naturally the biased view of a local estate agent who grew up in Longford. For an alternative view, have a read of a blog post by Rachel Masterson who inspired this article with Reasons To Love Longford Life