Posted by: John McGerr | January 4, 2009

A sense of place2


One of the bishops of our Diocese, Dr. McNamee, did a history of Parishes in the Diocese which featured a history of Edgeworthstown Parish. According to this book a church was built in the area by St. Beatan in the 6th Century. This tells us that there was a thriving community here at that time, one big enough to support the building of a Church.  An Abbey existed, built sometime in the early 1400s, the only Franciscan House in Longford. But it was the granting of lands to the Edgeworths in the 16th Century that may mark the earliest years of the actual town of Edgeworthstown. The first of these Edgeworths came in 1585 and they or their extended family lived in the Parish up to the early 20th Century. Part of the family home still exists – now part of a larger structure, the Manor Nursing Home. The family Church, St. John’s is still in use and the associated Rectory is also still in use. The family contained some remarkable individuals – Richard Lovell was an inventor, educator and politician as well as the father of 22 children. His eldest daughter Maria was a noted novelist and influenced writers like Walter Scott and Turgenev. A cousin, the Abbé Edgeworth was a Catholic priest who ministered to the French Royal family at the time of the French Revolution, accompanying Louis XVI to his execution. The Abbé is buried in Latvia, in the town of Jelgava. A more recent Edgeworth was Francis Ysidro Edgeworth who made his name in the world of Economics.

Maria Edgeworth is not the only literary connection to the town. Sir Walter Scott was a visitor, Oliver Goldsmith was educated, for a time, in Edgeworthstown and Oscar Wilde’s sister Isola is buried in St. John’s Cemetery. In more recent times the Edgeworth Literary Festival, held annually promotes young writers.

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