Information Laois Ireland

Welcome To Laois!

Laois is an inland county to the south-west of County Kildare. It forms part of the central plain of Ireland, though the Slieve Bloom Mountains (Highest point Arderin, 1,734 feet) are a prominent feature in the north-west of the county.

There is much interest and beauty in the quiet by-ways of this area, away from the main roads that lead from Dublin to Limerick and Cork.

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Laois is number 24 on the list of Ireland’s 32 counties both in area and population. It is therefore a small county, but there is plenty to do in Laois, and it has a surprisingly diverse and eclectic history in terms of the origins of the people who make up its populace.

It became a shire in 1556 under Queen Mary to become called Queen's County, only to have the name Laois bestowed on it following Ireland’s break from the UK in the early 1920s. Similarly, Mary gave Offaly the name King’s County (after her husband, Philip I of Spain) during the plantation of both counties. The county town of Maryborough, meanwhile, is today called Portlaoise. English settlers were not the only inhabitants that the native populace felt uncomfortable with. The O’Moores, a native clan of the area stripped of lands during the plantation by English settlers, made attacks on the garrisons and homesteads of the new arrivals. The plantations were not a success due in part to a shortage of tenants for the new landowners. French Huguenots settled in Laois in the 1690s. The Huguenots had served William of Orange in his successful endeavours to take the British throne. The county also had a large Quaker population, settling in Mountmellick and developing the area.

Some of the architecture of Laois pre-dates the history outlined above. Among the monasteries and other medieval Christian settlements you will find the Abbey at Aghaboe. Among its residents were St. Virgilius, known as Feargal or Farrell, and also known as “The Geometer”. He led a less than cloistered life, travelling widely. He is responsible for the building of the Cathedral at Salzburg, Austria, in 774 A.D and was made a saint in 1233.

Going back even earlier, the limestone structure of the Rock of Dunamase in the east of County Laois is worth a visit. In an account by Egyptian scientist Ptolemy, he may have been referring to the manmade fortification as long ago as 2,500 years ago. The fortification itself was built on an ideal piece of elevated land in purely defensive terms, whenever it was first created.

The Slieve Bloom Mountains in County Laois rise from the grasses to heathery summits, and the view from the top is something to behold.

General information Laois

Laois is county in the province of Leinster, Ireland. Laois is very centrally located, making it an excellent base from which to explore all the wonders of Ireland.

All major car, bus and rail routes operate in Laois, making traveling easy, no matter what form of transport you are using. There are several sites of interest in the county including the Slieve Bloom Mountains, the Rock of Dunamase, Emo Court, Castle Durrow and Stradbally House, annual home of the Electric Picnic Festival.

Accommodation in Laois

Laois provides you with ample accommodation options to suit your requirement and your budget. Bed & Breakfast, Guest Houses, Hostels, Hotels .Farm Houses Ė whatever you want, Laois has it.

Hotels in Laois

There are a number of hotels in Laois, affording you comfort and convenience in the heart of Irelandís rich, green countryside. Hotels in Laois include the Heritage and Killeshin Hotels in Portlaoise Town.

Bed & Breakfast in Laois

The Bed & breakfasts of Laois provide you with a comfortable and affordable stay along with deliciously cooked breakfast to suit your budget. B&B in Laois includes names such as Ballaghmore House B&B in Borris in Ossory, Castletown House B&B in Rathdowney County Laois and Tullamoy House B&B in Stradbally.

Laois Restaurants

Laois restaurants serve traditional favourites and international dishes, many consisting of fresh sourced local produce. Popular restaurants in Laois include Kingfisher in Portlaoise and Knaptonís in Abbeyleix.

Shopping in Laois

Laois provides a range of shopping options from local, hand crafted souvenier shops scattered throughout the county to the modern conveniences available at Laois Shopping Centre

Laois Car Rental

Car rentals in Laois facilitate cars on rent for a pre defined period and according to budget allowing you to set your own course. Some of prime car rentals serving Laois include Athy Car Hire, Leixlip Car Hire, Maynooth Car Hire, Celbridge Car Hire and Naas Car Hire.

Laois Golf

Laois has plenty of parkland golf courses including the Heritage Club in Killenard, Abbeyleis and The Heath Golf Clubs.

Attractions Laois Ireland

Abbey Leix Titanic Carpets - Abbeyleix

Abbey Leix Titanic Carpets Now you can commission a rug or carpet in the only authentic designs of the once lost Abbey Leix Titanic Carpets , under the TIE~TANIC T label.

Ballaghmore Castle - Ballaghmore

Built in 1480 by the Gaelic Chieftain, MacGiollaphadraig, the castle was partially destroyed by the forces of Oliver Cromwell, during the times of the famous Laois-Offaly Plantations in 1647. In 1836 a Mr. Ely restored it, but he never lived in the castle. The castle, in its state of disuse after the death of Ely, was used as a granary. An interesting feature of the castle is the 'Sile-na-Gig' carved into one of the outside walls. It was used as a fertility symbol and also to ward off evil in Pagan times.

Ballyfin House - Mountrath

Located six miles from Mountrath, Ballyfin House is a magnificent example of the type of architecture that went into some of the greatest houses in Ireland during the 1800's. It is also said to be the finest sandstone neo-classical house to be found in Ireland dating from that period. An architect, to the name of William Morrison, was involved in the designing of the original house in the late 1700's. When Sir Charles Coote bought the house and estate in 1812 he took to redesign and rebuild the original house with the architect, Richard Morrison.

Donaghmore Museum - Portaloise

Located close to Portlaoise, Donaghmore museum is housed in a restored Workhouse originally built in the early 1850s. As a result of the great famine of 1845-1849, about 1200 people, or 10 percent of the population of the area, was forced to seek refuge here. The building acquired a new lease of life in 1924 when the Donaghmore Co-operative Society began operations. The original dormitories, a kitchen and a waiting hall are all authentically restored in the museum.

Emo Court House - Portaloise

Located close to Portlaoise, Emo Court was designed by the architect, James Gandon in 1790 for the first Earl of Portalington, and is a magnificent example of neo-classical style. Owned throughout the middle of this century by the Jesuits, it was then acquired and extensively restored by Mr Chomely Harrison in the 1960s. The house is surrounded by beautiful gardens and parkland, first laid out in formal style in the 18th century. The house and gardens were taken into State ownership in 1994.

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