These are heady times for Longford, a county fighting back.
A county positioning itself to become a bustling and thriving tourism hub. According to CSO and Fáilte Ireland data produced in 2017, Longford had the unwanted distinction of being Ireland’s least visited county. But that is set to change dramatically in the months and years ahead.
The €233m Center Parcs Longford Forest holiday resort village will welcome its first customers on Monday, July 29 next and the official topping out ceremony took place last Friday, with An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar presiding over proceedings. Following an almost two-year construction process Center Parcs Longford Forest was delivered on schedule and within budget - so hopefully Mr Varadkar took some advice from Center Parcs CEO Martin Dalby on how major project should be delivered - the National Children’s Hospital immediately springs to mind!
During construction Center Parcs created over 750 jobs. As it now enters the operational phase, a further 1,000 permanent jobs have been created. The resort will provide a €32m annual boost to Ireland’s economy; adding an estimated €1 billion to GDP in the coming 20 years. Center Parcs Longford Forest will welcome up to 2,500 guests during each short break.
The figures are staggering!
Then on Monday morning plans for Ireland’s first ever 15-acre ‘Norman Heritage Park’ in Granard were announced. The €3.8 tourism initiative will open around the Norman Motte in Granard in 2021. Fáilte Ireland has invested €640,000 in the Norman Heritage Park project under its Grants Scheme for Large Tourism Projects 2016-2020.
This adds to the investment of almost €3 million announced for the project by the Department of Rural and Community Development earlier this year through its Rural Regeneration and Development Fund. The project has been driven by Granard Motte Community Enterprise CLG (GMCE) and Longford County Council, with support from the Office of Public Works (OPW), and huge kudos to all involved.
Then we have Ballymahon bombshell Maura Higgins living it up on Love Island and throw in the magnificent 117th County Longford Show and the brilliantly organised Longford Summer Festival which has brought the positive vibe back to the streets of the county town.
Longford certainly is having a moment and long may it continue!