Where it all Began

Edgeworthstown takes its name from the Edgeworth family who were settled here in County Longford in 1619 on lands granted by James I of England. 

They were members of the landlord class and in the initial stages – certainly for several decades -they were mainly absentee landlords. 

It was not until the early 1700’s when Richard Edgeworth inherited the estate, that life began to change in Edgeworthstown. He cleared the estate of all its encumbrance and built the Manor House which still stands to this day and now serves the community as a residential home for older people.

Richard Edgeworth had a son who was christened Richard Lovell. He inherited the estate in 1782 and was very much a reforming landlord who had a particular interest in education. 

He married four times and had twenty-two off spring. His eldest daughter was the famous novelist, children’s writer and educationalist Maria Edgeworth. 

The family continued to live and prosper in Edgeworthstown and they improved the living and working conditions of their tenants until 1935 when the estate was sold.

Painting of Edgeworthstown House

During this period the family were well respected by tenants but, by the same token they were also considered “occupiers”. Indeed, the great Irish Place Name scholar John O’Donovan, while reporting back to his masters in Dublin in 1837 wrote – “I find no authority for calling this place Edgeworthstown. We must adopt the name Mostrim if we do not wish to be laughed at, the name of Edgeworth will soon be forgotten”.

In the 1960’s a new manager Mr. Mc Elderry was appointed to the local branch of the Ulster Bank. His wife Myra who had a great interest in history could not understand how the community would not celebrate the town’s association with the Edgeworth family. She initiated the establishment of the Edgeworth Society in 1969. 

Its aims were, to develop an enlightened interest in all aspects of local history, tradition, folklore and culture in friendly association with the Longford Historical Society. The society envisaged the construction of a new library, -the courageous and ambitious group also had plans to acquire a premises to house a permanent local museum, which would honour the Edgeworth legacy and would display memorabilia and objects of local antiquity and local history.

The society thrived for a number of years, but with the transfer of the Mc Elderry’s from the town, interest in the society waned, and the group disbanded. Nevertheless, a good foundation had been laid. 

In 1995 a group of like-minded enthusiastic people came together to rekindle interest in the project that had been started by Myra Mc Elderry and from this the first Maria Edgeworth Festival of Literature was held. The aim of this group was to keep the Edgeworth name alive locally.

The group acquired an old national school which had opened in 1840 under the patronage of Maria Edgeworth.
In 2019 Failte Ireland grant aided the development of a museum and visitor centre  in the school which now houses many artefacts and memorabilia associated with the family and the area. Its’ collection of over two thousand books include many from the Edgeworth’s own collection, including a 1798 first edition of ‘Practical Education’.

Now that the Centre is established as a visitor attraction, the group intend to broaden its appeal by inviting the general public to share in this wonderful experience all year round. It is worth noting  that one of the aims of the original society was the building of a library in the town. This aim was achieved when a new state of the art library opened in the town in 2021.