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Droichead Chaisleán Loiste
Rochfortbridge is located in Ireland
Location in Ireland
Coordinates: 53°24′58″N 7°17′46″W / 53.416°N 7.296°W / 53.416; -7.296Coordinates: 53°24′58″N 7°17′46″W / 53.416°N 7.296°W / 53.416; -7.296
Country Ireland
Province Leinster
County County Westmeath
 • Dáil Éireann Longford–Westmeath
 • EU Parliament North–West
Elevation 32 m (105 ft)
Population (2011)
 • Urban 1,718
 • Rural 200
Time zone WET (UTC+0)
 • Summer (DST) IST (WEST) (UTC-1)
Area code(s) +353-44-92
Irish Grid Reference N462407

Rochfortbridge (Irish: Droichead Chaisleán Loiste) is a village in County Westmeath, Ireland, with a population of 1,718. It is located at the intersection of the R400 and the N6 national primary route.

The electoral district of Castlelost in Rochfortbridge had 1,718 inhabitants at the 2011 census.


From the Reaching out website which traces genealogies of the diaspora there is an interesting account of Rochfortbridge in the 6th century it reads as follows Castlelost 'Is located in the barony of Fartullagh which is in the town of Rochford-Bridge. A population f 1909 people. It has a monastery which was founded in the village of Rathyne. A person by the name of St. Carthag had a class of 867 monks that he had gathered over a 40-year period. The monks had helped themselves encase of difficulty with their roles of work. The was very little lessons learned in the school in relation to the religions that they were going under. King Blathmac told the monks to scatter from the monastery, all that was remaining of the monastery was a saint where he tried to keep the monastery in good shape. He had died in the year 636 anno domini. Abbotts in the monastery were there till the year 783, until that period of time there were no monastery was not used by anybody and it remained dormer ever since. Its on the main Dublin to Athone road, the bog of allen lies near the parish, and it is a very big bog of 10,794 acres (4,368 ha). It is a hilly type of a country. (Pass of Kilbride) was once a stopping point on the main East-West/West-East route (an Slí Mór) across Ireland. The village evolved around a river crossing over the river Derry. Droichead Chaistleán Loiste, the Gaelic name for Rochfortbridge is Anglicised as "Castlelost Bridge". It is believed that there was a delousing station here during the Great Famine.[citation needed]

The original bridge at Rochfortbridge was called Beggars Bridge. Local oral tradition holds that the body of a beggarman was discovered on the old bridge, and that his pockets contained a sum of money — enough to rebuild the bridge. This story and others are important to local people even though there is no historical confirmation. The original bridge was a toll bridge with a toll of one farthing to cross either way.

The village proper was set out by Robert Rochfort, MP for Westmeath from 1651 to 1727, and grandfather of Robert, 1st Earl of Belvedere. The village was set out c. 1700 on receiving a grant from Queen Anne to hold a monthly market in the area.[citation needed] As part of the village building programme, Rochfort financed and built a new bridge over the river Derry. This bridge gave the village its name: Rochfort Bridge.

Following the death of Rochfort in 1727, the village and its logistics were controlled by his son George Rochfort. George died just three years later, in 1730, and the village was then under the control of his son Robert Rochfort (soon to become 1st Earl of Belvedere). On the death of the 1st Earl, the village passed to his son and heir George Augustus Rochfort, the 2nd Earl of Belvedere. George's second wife Jane, Countess Belvedere, placed her mark strongly on the village of Tyrrellspass.[citation needed]

Aerial shot of Rochfortbridge

In 1797 Lt. Col. Robert Rochfort (aka Bobby Bán; 1743–1797), son of the 1st Earl, and brother of the 2nd Earl, died and his estate at Dunboden passed to the Cooper family. The other great Rochfort Estate at Gaulstown also changed hands, with Gaulstown passing to Lord Kilmaine. It was the Cooper Family and Lord Kilmaine that in 1847 rebuilt the village to its present state, as part of a famine relief programme. Almost all of the original village dwellings were demolished during this rebuilding effort. The only remaining building of the Rochfort era that still stands in the village is the Protestant church, just off what is now the village's main street.

Mercy Convent Rochfortbridge[edit]

In 1862 the Mercy Convent was established in Rochfortbridge, and in 1872, with help from the donations of a local family, it was extended to house a school for females who had a hearing or visual disability. This institution continued until the 1940s, when the Sisters of Mercy established the secondary school.[1]

Village View in 2007

Deaf and Dumb Institute[edit]

In 1892, at the request of the Most Rev Dr Nulty, Bishop of Meath, M. M. Stanislaus opened a Deaf and Dumb School in the part of St Joseph's which had been occupied by the Sisters of Mercy before their move to the new convent in 1872.[2]

St. Joseph's Secondary School[edit]

The demand for secondary education and a lack of schools in the area lead to the establishment of a secondary school at St. Joseph’s in Rochfortbridge. Shares belonging to St. Joseph’s Deaf Mute Institute were sold to fund its construction. The Department of Education required a certified secondary teacher, so a secondary top was established. On 7 September 1948, 14 students began studying at St. Joseph’s. Education facilities were in a poor state in Ireland then, but the situation improved in 1949 when electricity was brought to the locality. In 1949 two lay teachers were appointed.[3]

Soon the secondary top was discontinued to set up a proper school with Sr. Magdalene as principal. For two years state exams were held in Loreto, Mullingar for the Rochfortbridge students, and in 1952 some of the Sisters visited No. 1 Hume Street to secure a centre for exams. In 1953 a Leaving Certificate Centre was established in the school and gradually the enrolment increased with 65 boarders registered in 1957.[3]

In 1963 the Bishop announced the extension of St. Joseph’s to accommodate the boys of the district. The subjects were expanded to include woodwork, metalwork and science. The increasing enrolment urged to merge the school with a house and land adjoining it. This expansion involved a significant fundraising and resulted in the opening of a new school in 1983. It continued into the purchasing of the Parochial House and gardens in 1987 and opening of a new sports hall in 1990. The enrolment numbers kept increasing and new classrooms and a science lab were opened in 1992.[3]

The present principal of the school is Eileen Alford, who grew up in the village.[3]

Archaeological sites in Rochfortbridge[edit]

Other historical sites in the village area include Castlelost Castle, moat and graveyard. There is also a fine example of a ring fort in the middle of the village which is preserved along with the Convent of Mercy.

There are also many Megalithic and Neolithic sites plus many notable buildings in the area.

Present day[edit]

The new M6 outside Rochfortbridge

The village has recently been bypassed by a new Motorway, the M6, which replaces the old N6 National Primarary Road that runs through the centre of the village. The village has two primary and one secondary school within the village with two further primary schools in the parish.

The village of Rochfortbridge was rural agricultural up to the 1980s but this has changed and at present there are 23 males and 1 female engaged in agriculture, forestry or fishing.

Social class[edit]

Demographic changes have seen the establishment of Rochfortbridge as a commuter location with those employed generally of working-class background, 862 persons are of social class D E or F these corresponding to Non manual,manual skilled or semi skilled.Further breakdown of the socio economic status of households show that 33 are higher professionals ( solicitors,doctors etc. ) and 191 are lower professionals such as teachers,nurses, social care workers etc. Data provided by the 2006 census showed 45 farmers in the village with 33 farm workers representing a significant decline in 5 years. There are 560 persons working in the town out of a population of 1718, with 187 forcibly unemployed, 156 students,151 persons homemaking, 146 retired persons and 62 people claiming to be unable to work due to permanent illness or disability. 1565 persons describe themselves as White Irish and 1564 describing themselves as Catholic . Taking on an intercultural aspect, of those usually resident on the night of the 2011 census there were 13 poles, 4 Lithuanian, 50 persons from outside of the EU and 27 who were born in the United Kingdom .There are 6 members of the Travelling community, 37 Black Irish and 19 Asian or Asian Irish. Family units generally consist of 4 persons living in a house with 5 or 6 rooms, there are 85 family units where a person is parenting alone and 257 with two people parenting.There are 499 single males and 448 single females, 319 married males and 320 females who are married, 15 separated males and 34 separated females, 9 men divorced and 10 females and 64 widowed persons

The socio-economic data provided by the 2001 census show that there are 45 farmers in the village with 33 farm workers. This compares to 226 professional workers, including teachers, social workers, nurses, Gardaí etc. (positions that would normally require at least a diploma qualification but more usually a degree or a degree and a professional postgraduate qualification ), and 826 workers who range from skilled manual (carpenters, electricians, etc.) to unskilled labourers. There are a further 179 persons who refer to themselves as employer managers. Rochfortbridge is disadvantaged area.[citation needed]


Educational data derived from the 2006 census for Rochfortbridge show that attainment in higher education is below the national average (which is approximately 18.5%).This has improved in the 2011 results, 83 persons are now educated to level 7 or 8 holding a degree, diploma or equivalent, 29 are postgraduates holding a level 8 or 9 qualification ( in 2006 there were 1 male and 3 females holding a master's degree) There are no holders of doctorates or above in Rochfortbridge.


Pre 1919 there were 15 households in Rochfortbridge with 34 persons, the most significant rises in population occur in the period 1846-1860 when the 85 new units, the population rising to 225, this coinciding with the development of Bord na Mona and the construction of housing for its employees.The next big rise took place during the 'Celtic Tiger' and between 1991 to 2000 there was 200 houses built, in 2001 to 2005 there was a further 118 units built bringing another 376 persons into the town.At present there are 563 households with a population of 1743.

Nearly 50% of the population live in a house where there is a mortgage, 171 households have no mortgage, 51 households are renting privately with the majority in receipt of rent allowance, 49 are renting from the local authority and 1 household is renting from a voluntary body . The housing estates within the village (in order of construction) are: 1950s

  • Derrygreenagh Park – Built in the 1950s by the state agency Bord na Móna as housing for its employees, Derrygreenagh Park was one of a small number of housing estates built to a particular design. The estate has won an award for its tidiness, and has the added attraction of a pitch-and-putt course.
  • Ahona –


Church in Rochfortbridge
  • Castle Park
  • Brookfield
  • Castlelost Vale
  • Rahanine Manor
  • Stonebridge Park
  • The Sycamores
  • The Crescent

There are two public houses in Rochfortbridge:

  • Bagnalls Pub – Built in the early 2000s as part of a small retail development now owned by NAMA
  • Lysters Bar – Also on the main street of the village, now ran by the Kenny family

Local businesses in the village are varied and include a supermarket, pizza shop, hair salons, Chinese takeaway, bookmakers', café, takeaway, garage service station, estate agent, pharmacy, Centra (taken over by NAMA), a Post Office, and an aluminium/PVC fabrication factory.

See also[edit]


External links[edit]