Longford, the seat of County Longford and a typical, small, market-town community, is rich in literary associations, though after Oliver Goldsmith, the names in the county's pantheon of writers may draw a blank from all but the most dedicated Irish literature enthusiasts. Longford town provides a good base for exploring the countryside surrounding it. A day trip to the pretty heritage village of Ardagh (10 km [7 miles] southeast of Longford town), with its quaint houses and village green, is a popular option. Tours of the village may be booked through Ardagh Heritage Centre (086/302–7602). The talk of the county, however, has been the opening of the glitzy new Center Parcs near Ballymahon, which has turned a forest into a playground and has the potential to revolutionize tourism in this quiet backwater.
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One of the most elegant small towns in Ireland, Abbeyleix has retained its Georgian feel and its broad main street, which is lined with well-appointed...
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