We took part in a new walking tour over the summer in County Longford. The St. Mary’s to St. John’s & Beyond walking tour is a historical and literary trail based in the town of Edgeworthstown.
The walking tour tells the history of the town and of the Edgeworth family and other famous literary figures connected with the family in County Longford, including the head of the family, Richard Lovell Edgeworth, who was an inventor, (find out what he invented here) and also about his daughter, the novelist Maria Edgeworth.
Maria Edgeworth was born on the 1st of January 1767 near Oxford in Great Britain but spent most of her life in Ireland. Her novels include Castle Rackrent and The Absentee, which were novels about Irish tenants and the Landlord classes. Castle Rackrent was the first novel to give the ordinary Irish peasant a voice.
The tour starts from the gothic style St Mary’s Church, which is just off the N4 road in the town, we got an introduction to the Edgeworth family and a short history about the church. The guide that day was Matt Farrell, he has a nice pleasant manner and is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic, which really helps to bring the stories and sites we visited to life.
We left the church and walked across the road into the grounds of the Manor nursing home which, was the ancestral home of the Edgeworth’s family. We got to see the house and grounds where they lived and also the walled garden’s.
As this is private property, it was great to view this site in particular on the tour. We then moved onto the Main Street and found out about a few of the buildings in the town, this was very interesting as having passed through the town for many years, it was great to find out the background, one, in particular, was the connection to Charles Bianconi.
The tour then moved onto the Rectory and to St John’s Church and graveyard, where the Edgeworth family are buried. We heard lots of interesting stories and history along the way connected to the Edgeworth’s and visitors to Edgeworthstown over the years, you can check, out the tour to hear all about them.
We were lucky to attend the walking tour during the Maria Edgeworth Literary festival, and when we arrived, at the Rectory there was a short presentation by the artist Bernard Canavan as he presented a painting of the Edgeworth’s to the town, I really liked this painting it reminded me of Jack B Yeats work. We also got to attend an interesting lecture on Maria Edgeworth given by Dr Derek Hand in St John’s Church.
The tour is a great idea and is run by the Edgeworth Society and is a great boost to tourism in the county, I recommend doing the tour, and afterwards, you can visit nearby Ardagh village. This quaint village is synonymous with the poet Oliver Goldsmith. (read about Ardagh here).