Portlaoise, Co. Laois
Port Laoise is the county town of County Laois in the midlands. The name is Irish for "Fort of Laois", however, a partially anglicised pronunciation as "Port Laois" (say 'Port Leash') is common.
Portlaoise was originally established as the Fort of Maryborough in 1556 under the reign of Queen Mary, and many elements of its garrison past are still evident throughout the town. The town now has a large and growing commuter population availing of the rail and motorway connections to Dublin.
The old jail in Portlaoise town centre has been recently restored to create a multi-purpose arts centre, which regularly hosts a variety of cultural delights.
Just outside Portlaoise lies the Rock of Dunamaise, an ancient Celtic fortification that is reputed to have been mapped by Ptolemy in the 8th century. The view from the summit is spectacular and well worth the climb.