Newtown Forbes
an Lios Breac
Newtown Forbes

Location in Ireland

Coordinates: 53°46′05″N 7°50′01″W / 53.767938°N 7.833618°W / 53.767938; -7.833618Coordinates: 53°46′05″N 7°50′01″W / 53.767938°N 7.833618°W / 53.767938; -7.833618
Country Ireland
Province Leinster
County County Longford
Elevation 60 m (200 ft)
Population (2006)[1]
  Total 668
Irish Grid Reference N107795

Newtownforbes (Irish: an Lios Breac, meaning "the speckled ringfort") is a village in County Longford, Ireland. It was historically called Lisbrack, an anglicisation of the Irish name.[2]

The N4 National primary route passes through the Main Street of the village, which is situated 4 km northwest of Longford Town. Newtownforbes is a thriving village with its population listed at 668 in 2006.[1] The national school is Scoil Mhuire. The village has a Catholic church, St. Mary's which has been recently restored. One feature of the renovation is the new west windows, by Joe Sheridan of Kilkenny which shows Virgin Mary with Jesus and St. John and a playfriend. It also shows St. Elither, a local saint, building the first Christian church of the village. The village also has public houses, shops and other amenities to cater for the expanding village. The sports complex has a floodlit pitch and indoor basketball court.

Newtownforbes is in the parish of Clonguish; its Irish name is Cluain geis which means The Meadow of the Swans. Clonguish is bordered by four other parishes, Killashee, Templemicheal, Killoe and Drumlish. The parish also shares a common boundary with the province of Connacht in that it adjoins the parishes of Bornacoola and Gortletteragh in County Leitrim and is separated by the Shannon from Kilbarry in County Roscommon. The River Camlin flows through the south-western end of the parish. On the approach to Newtownforbes from Longford, there is an old house called Minard House on the left. It was built in the 1760s and was the base to a local radio station.

There are three pubs - one of which is Casey's Public House. This pub was the last pub in the Midlands to stop the practise of bottling Guinness for the brewery and labeling it. Michael Collins, 1916 rebel and Irish Free State Commander drank in this pub from time to time. According to local rumors, Collins was once so intoxicated on tonic wine after visiting the local nursing home he had to be brought to the midlands hospital for medical treatment. This episode is said to have led to his pro-Anglo Irish treaty stance after witnessing the favorable treatment he received.


Newtownforbes takes its name from the Forbes family, also known as the Earl of Granard, who originated in Aberdeen and were granted lands in the area around 1621, and have been resident in Castleforbes since 1691. The family was in service to the Crown and successive generations were promoted to Viscount, Baronet and eventually Earldom. The family changed the name of the village from Lisbrack to Newtownforbes around 1750. Many of the houses in the original part of the village date from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Castleforbes is situated about 5 km from Longford town and stands between Newtownforbes and the River Shannon. Built to the design of John Hargrave from Cork, Castleforbes is a 19th-century structure of cut limestone. The entrance gateway of the castle is French style which is about one mile (1.6 km) from the castle itself. There are some narrow windows in the shape of an arch as well as the remains of some English style windows.

In 1909 following the marriage of Bernard Forbes, 8th Earl of Granard to Beatrice, daughter of the wealthy Ogden Mills of Staatsburg, New York, the decoration of the castle was completed. Lady Jane structured the original building of Castleforbes in 1624. Over the years, the Castle has been added to. In 1825 the castle was partly burned. It was saved by a dog called 'Pilot' whose barking woke everyone in the castle.

1,286 acres (5.20 km2) of land was given to them in 1619. In 1854 together the castle covered 1,346 acres (5.45 km2) of land within its demesne. It was the largest demesne in Longford. In 1876 the total estate, including parts of land from around the parish, Clonguish, Drumlish, Killashee and near Mullingar, covered 14.978 acres (60,610 m2) of land. Today Lady Georgina, the present owner, owns only the land within the demesne, 1,346 acres (5.45 km2).

In 1911 the castle was the site of the introduction to Ireland of the Eastern grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), when six pairs were given as a wedding gift to Lord Forbes and some later escaped into the wild.


  1. 1 2 "Census 2006 – Volume 1 – Population Classified by Area" (PDF). Central Statistics Office Census 2006 Reports. Central Statistics Office Ireland. April 2007. Retrieved 2011-05-07.
  2. Placenames Database of Ireland (see archival records)

See also

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