Longford County Council to celebrate 120 years

Longford Leader Reporter

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Longford Co Library

Longford Co Library

Longford County Library, Heritage and Archives Services will celebrate the 120th anniversary of the establishment of Longford County Council this month with an exhibition and lecture.

The exhibition will be held in Longford Library, 1-18 April. It will consist of some local authority archives, information on the first councils elected in Longford and a travelling exhibition on local elections prepared by the members of the Local Government Archivists’ and Records Managers’ group.

On Wednesday, April 10, at 7.30pm local historian Kitty Hughes will give a lecture entitled ‘The first local elections and councils in County Longford, 1899’ in Longford Library. The lecture will be of great interest to many local people because, among other things, Kitty will refer to the candidates and the first councillors.

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Previously, Kitty has spoken on the lives of Longford’s first women councillors, Françoise Edgeworth and Moya Bligh.
The elections held on April 6, 1899 followed the passing of the Local Government (Ireland) Act of 1898, which introduced democratic local government for the first time.

It set up county councils, rural district councils and urban district councils. In Longford, apart from the county council, there were three rural district councils created: Longford, Granard and Ballymahon.

They had responsibility for housing and sanitary services. They were abolished in 1925.
One of the most revolutionary aspects of the elections of 1899 was that women had the right to vote for the first time and to stand for rural district councils

The first woman to serve as a councillor in Longford was Françoise Edgeworth of Edgeworthstown House, who was returned to Granard Rural District Council in 1899. She was one of 31 women to be elected in Ireland at that time.