European Delights 2009 travel blog

The drive to visit Dad's friends, the Nearny family, was interesting to say the least. And saying the least is where I will leave it. However, we did arrive to a big warm welcome at lunchtime to the most friendly happy family I have met in a long time. There was martina & Tony and their children Leisha 8, Daragh 12 and Rauri 14. We spent a little time getting to know each other before being wisked away to check into our hotel - Keenans. Oh is is soooo swish, we even had our own rooms! And how awesome they were - double bed, bath, room service and gorgeous views over the Shannon river. What luxury. This was a treat from Martin - must be our lucky year!!!! My travel budget thanked him very much!

County Longford lies in the Shannon basin and the upper catchment area of the River Erne. It’s just over an hour from Dublin and two hours from Galway.

Longford has a strong tradition in fishing angling, water sports, literary and heritage. It boasts many monastic sites including the Dolmen in Aughnacliff, the ruins of the Abbey in Abbeylara and the historic ruins of St Mel’s first Cathedral in Ardagh. I am told Longford also has a vibrant night life and is home to some of the top sports, arts and social centres in the Midlands.

It has a strong tradition in music and has many festivals throughout the year including the annual Johnny Keenan Banjo Festival. But the true beauty of Longford lies in its views - it is a quiet countryside of farmlands, bog and the occasional low hill. It really is an ideal spot for a get-away-from-it-all relaxing break.

A County steeped in history and tradition, it got its name from a chieftain called Farrell who travelled westward after the battle of Clontarf in 1014. He built a fortification at rampart in the vicinty of the present town of longford. Having established his army headquarters here, the place known as as Longford Ui Ferraill. For about 600 years Longford formed part of the ancient kingdom of Annaly, and the princes of Annaly assumed the surname of OFarrell. This is one of the most numerous surnames in Longford to the present day.

Longfords past reaches into pre-history. There are connections with the great mythological saga such as the route of the tain through the county, and standing stones, site of ancient sun-worship and Black Pigs Dyke near Granard. History is in the boglands of County Longford. Among themast significent finds in recent years, of national and indeed international importance was the Lough Kinale Shrine, found at Lough Kinale near Granard, now restored and preserved in the National Museum of Ireland.

A Cathedral town, it is the seat of the Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise. Saint Mels Cathedral and Saint Johns Church, both dating from the 19th Century, stand at the East and West entrances to the town. The visitor is well catered for in Longford with activities to suit all tastes. The town is spaciously laid out with wide streets and pleasant buildings, and recent impressive urban development. The dome of the 19th Century St. Mels Cathedral, a renaissance style building of grey limestone with a lofty steeple, may be seen from quite a long way from outside the town. There is an ecclesiastical museum, situated at the rear of this Cathedral.

Tarmonbarry within Longford and where the hotel is. It was established in 1838, is family owned presently by Barry & Annette Keenan.

Originally just a public bar, each generation leave their own impressions and stories on this establishment. The present 5th generation carry on the traditions and hospitality of their ancestors and uphold their values and standards while leaving their own stories behind to be told by the next up and coming generation.

Leaving the hotel we dropped by the families private to dock to board their 400,000€ boat that only got one sailing due to a design fault... all the options were ticked when ordered so it wasn't tested on the sea before being delivered. Rwo years later and martin is in the courts fighting for his money back.

Nice boat to, if it worked...

back to the house to eat an amzing dinner afterwhich I could not even think about food for fear of popping a button, we all sang and danced the jive, even showing a great display of skill with our air guitar to AC/DC!!

A long but very fun night!

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