The village of Ardagh lies to the south-east of Longford Town and has given its name to the Diocese in which the greaterpart of the county is situated. It is said that Saint Patrick founded a church here in the fifth century and installed Saint Mel as bishop. The ancient ruins of Saint Mel's Cathedral are near the present Church of Ireland and Saint Mel himself is said to be buried within the walls. Ardagh is a very attractive Estate Village which was largely rebuilt by Lady Fetherston in the 1860's. The clock and houses are unique in Ireland for their Swiss design. Ardagh has featured regularly in the forefront of the National Tidy Towns Awards. Its distinctive architecture as a planned estate has led to its designation as a Heritage Village. Lady Fetherston's ancestral home was Ardagh House, now Saint Brigid's Training Centre run by the Sisters of Mercy. See Goldsmith and Ardagh Hertiage Centre. Considerable archaeological remains have been discovered in the Ardagh region, which have been excavated by the noted archaeologist Liam de Paor.
schoolhouse built in 1898 is the location of the Ardagh Heritage Centre. It
houses an exciting exhibition which outlines the history of this exquisite village.
The story of Ardagh is one of history, literature and storytelling. This
exhibition draws on the rich fabric of Ardagh life down through the ages, from
the roots of the village in Irish mythology, to its development as an important
early church and its emergence as a model estate village. Over the years,
Ardagh has played host to writers and musicians such as Oliver Goldsmith, Sir
Walter Scott, Turlough Carolan and Maria Edgeworth. Now, as one of Ireland's
tidiest villages, Ardagh presents its history and bids welcome to an ever
The love story of Midhir and Etain is one of the more touching of Irish myths. Midhir is a demi-god and dwells in a sidhe (shee). He marries a mortal, Etain. When he arrives home with Etain he incurs the wrath of his wife Fuamnach who uses magic to transform Etain into a butterfly. Etain, as butterfly, is buffeted about the world for many years. Etain is finally able to track down Etain when she is reborn nearly a thousand years after their marriage, but she has forgotten him and their marriage and is now married to Eochaidh, king of Ireland. Midhir manages to kiss Etain, restoring her memory and the two escape from the royal court when Midhir transforms them both into swans.
The wonderful sculpture below captures that moment.
For a more complete rendering of the tale of the wooing of Etain click: Wooing of Etain