County Image

County Laois

With its territory traversed by the rail and road links from Dublin to Cork and Limerick, Laois is often glimpsed only fleetingly by inter-city travellers. But as with any Irish county, it is a wonderfully rewarding place to visit as soon as you move off the main roads. For Laois is the setting for Emo Court and Heywood, two of the great gardens of Ireland at their most impressive.

And it’s a salutary place to visit, too. In the eastern part, between Stradbally and Portlaoise, there's the Rock of Dunamase, that fabulous natural fortress which many occupiers inevitably assumed to be impregnable. Dunamase's remarkably long history of fortifications and defences and sieges and eventual captures has a relevance and a resonance for all times and all peoples and all places.

But there's much more to Laois than mournful musings on the ultimate vanity of human ambitions. With its border shared with Carlow along the River Barrow, eastern Laois comfortably reflects Carlow's quiet beauty. To the northwest, we find that Offaly bids strongly to have the Slieve Bloom Mountains thought of as an Offaly hill range, but in fact there's more of the Slieve Blooms in Laois than Offaly, and lovely hills they are too. And though the River Nore may be thought of as quintessential Kilkenny, long before it gets anywhere near Kilkenny it is quietly building as it meanders across much of Laois, gathering strength from the weirdly-named Delour, Tonet, Gully, Erskina and Goul rivers on the way.

Along the upper reaches of the Nore in west Laois, the neat little village of Castletown has long been a tidy place. Castletown has for the past seventeen years climbed steadily up the rankings in the annual Tidy Towns contest. Having been the tidiest village in all Ireland in 2001, Castletown repeated the performance and then some in 2002, and at the annual awards ceremony in Dublin Castle, it was announced that Castletown was both the tidiest village, and the national overall winner in all categories. This high standard has been maintained, and the most recent National Awards ceremony saw Castletown very much in the frame.  

Local Attractions and Information

Abbeyleix Abbeyleix Heritage House +353 (0)502 31653

Abbeyleix Sensory Gardens +353 (0)502 31325

Ballinakill Heywood (Lutyens gardens) +353 (0)502 33563

Donaghmore Castletown House Open Farm +353 (0)505 46415

Donaghmore Donaghmore Workhouse Museum +353 (0)505 46212

Emo Emo Court (Gandon house & gardens) +353 (0)502 26573

Portlaois Dunamaise Theatre & Arts Centre +353 (0)502 63356

Portlaoise Tourist Information +353 (0)502 21178

Slieve Bloom Slieve Bloom Rural Development Assoc. +353 (0)509 37299

Stradbally National Steam Traction Rally (August) +353 (0)502 25444


Heywood Gardens - Ballinakill County Laois Ireland
Heywood Gardens
Abbeyleix, Co. Laois
Representing two chapters of garden history, Ballinakill is an 18th century landscaped estate laid out in the romantic manner, with a rare gem - an architectural garden designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944) - at its heart. Created in 1906 for ...


The 18th and Clubhouse
Heritage Golf Club, The
Killenard, Co. Laois
Course Type: Parkland
The Heritage a par 72 Championship course, designed by Seve Ballesteros and Jeff Howes is set in the beautiful rolling countryside of Co. Laois, just one hour from Dublin, with the Slieve Bloom Mountains as a backdrop. It provides a most enjoyabl ...

Self Catering

Roundwood House - The Forge & The Cottage
Mountrath, Co. Laois
Two self-catering units situated on the grounds of Roundwood House, an 18th century Palladian Villa, in a beautiful region of central Ireland at the foot of the unspoilt Slieve Bloom Mountains. Each building possesses immense character and is ...

What's On

There is no featured What's On in this county

Tourist Attractions

Emo Court - Emo County Laois Ireland
Emo Court
Emo, Co. Laois
Emo Court is a large neo-classical mansion, formal and symetrical in its design and with beautifully proportioned rooms that was designed by the architect James Gandon (architect of the Custom House and Kings Inns in Dublin) in 1790 for the Earls ...

Wedding Venues

Castle Durrow - Durrow County Laois - Wedding Venue
Castle Durrow
Durrow, Co. Laois
This 300-year-old mansion half way between Dublin and Cork has recently been refurbished to a very high standard and, overlooking beautiful terraced gardens to the south, and the River Erkina to the north, it makes a magnificently romantic weddin ...

There are currently no comments

Leave a comment

You must be logged in to leave a comment
Not a member? Register for your free membership now!
Or leave a comment by logging in with: