Last Friday was a red letter day for Edgeworthstown in its efforts to promote the area’s important historical and literary culture.
The first coach load of tourists from South County Dublin to sample the new literary trail, arrived in the mid Longford town last Friday to much anticipation. They were led by librarian Breda Bollard.
The 40 or so visitors were welcomed to Edgeworthstown by Matt Farrell - a man who has been instrumental in bringing the project to fruition in the first instance - and Donall Mac An Bheatha Chief Planning Officer at Longford County Council.
Mr Mac An Bheatha was the man tasked with the responsibility of developing and promoting tourism in this county.
Ciaran MacGonigal brought with him a wide range of knowledge in the field of Arts, heritage and culture to proceedings as did Carmel Noone who oversees all of Edgeworthstown Development Association’s any and varied activities.
“The visitors started their day with morning tea and coffee, and a variety of home baking in the Park House Hotel and were then led on the trail which started at St Mary’s church,” said Mr Farrell, adding the church held an interesting history.
“We then continued to Edgeworthstown House and walled gardens - the ancestral home of the famous Edgeworth family Richard Lovell, Maria, William and Michael Pakenam to name but a few. The trail then proceeded to the historic St John’s Rectory birthplace of ‘The Abbe Edgeworth’ confessor to Louis XVI of France.”
The Rectory was also the house in which Isola Wilde - sister to Oscar Wilde - tragically died at the tender age of nine while on a visit to her aunt Margaret Noble.
Local history tells us that Oscar Wilde paid many visits to her grave in St John’s and composed his famous poem Requiescat in Isola’s memory.
“Visitors found the recital of the poem very moving, indeed some commented that they felt the spirit of Isola in the room at the rectory,” continued Mr Farrell.
“The group then proceeded to St John’s Church and graveyard where they saw the Edgeworth family tomb and the memorial to Isola Wilde, as well as many interesting headstones and the graves of many eminent churchmen.”
The final leg of the trail took in the beautiful stone cut St John’s school and ended at the Edgeworth Schoolhouse on the Ballymahon Road which was built in 1840 just nine years before the death of Maria Edgeworth.
“Breda Bollard was very impressed with the visit and told us that we had a wonderful story to tell here in Edgeworthstown,” added Mr Farrell.
“It was a proud moment for me and I hope that it will be just the first of many visiting groups to this historic town. Everyone is working so hard and together to promote the town in a positive light.”