Rochfortbridge (Irish: Droichead Chaisleán Loiste) is located at the intersection of the R400 and the new N6 from Kinnegad to Athlone. The village has two primary and one secondary school within the village with two further primary schools in the parish.
Rochfortbridge 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
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. 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. 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.
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.
Archaeological sites in Rochfortbridge
Historical sites in the village area include “Castlelost” castle, moat and graveyard. There is also a fine example of a ringfort in the middle of the village which is preserved along with the Convent of Mercy.