Laois is a hidden gem located in the heart of Ireland, and there is no shortage of things to do in Laois during your visit. Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or an adventure seeker, there is something for everyone in Laois.
1. The Rock Of Dunmase
One of the must-see attractions in Laois is the Rock of Dunamase, a medieval fortress perched on a hilltop overlooking the surrounding lands. This historical site dates back to the 9th century and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. The Rock of Dunamase is perched atop a hill, this ancient fortress offers breathtaking views of the local area.
2. The Slieve Bloom Mountains
If you’re a fan of the great outdoors, a visit to the Slieve Bloom Mountains is a must. These rolling hills are home to a variety of walking and hiking trails that offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape. The Ridge of Capard Trail is a popular choice, offering a challenging hike with rewarding views.
3. The Mountmellick Museum
The Mountmellick Museum tells the story of this unique town through its extensive collection of artefacts, photographs, and documents. Visitors can learn about the history of the Quaker community in Mountmellick, as well as the town’s important role in the Irish linen industry.
One of the highlights of the museum is its collection of Mountmellick embroidery, a traditional style of whitework embroidery that originated in the town. This intricate and delicate form of embroidery is still practised by artisans today, and visitors can admire stunning examples of the craft at the museum.
4. The Emo Court House And Gardens
For those interested in history and heritage, a visit to the Emo Court House and Gardens is a must. This stately home boasts stunning architecture and beautiful gardens, making it a great spot for a relaxing stroll. The nearby Heywood Gardens, with its stunning landscaping and tranquil atmosphere, is also worth a visit.
4. Donaghmore Famine Workhouse Museum
Donaghmore Famine Workhouse Museum is a fascinating place to explore and learn about Ireland’s past. Located in County Laois, the museum brings visitors back in time to the era of the Great Irish Famine, telling a story of misery, suffering and death but also of resilience and strength. It offers visitors an insight into the everyday lives of the people who lived there during this tumultuous time through its collection which includes cookery equipment, maps, registers, poems and letters. Visitors can take part in guided tours around the site or enjoy displays on famine relief initiatives such as soup kitchens and workhouses. This museum is a great way to learn more about a tragic yet important part of Irish history.
5. Heywood Gardens Maze
If you’re travelling with kids, a visit to the Heywood Gardens Maze is sure to be a hit. This intricate maze will keep the little ones entertained for hours and is a great way to spend a fun afternoon with the family.
6. Traditional Irish Pubs
If you’re looking to get a taste of local culture, be sure to visit one of Laois’ many traditional Irish pubs. These cosy establishments offer great food, live music, and a friendly atmosphere that is sure to make you feel right at home.
7. The Timahoe Heritage Centre
The Timahoe Heritage Centre is a great attraction for history enthusiasts. The centre is located in the picturesque village of Timahoe and is a prime example of the Irish monastic architecture of the 8th century. The centre is a perfect destination for anyone interested in learning about the history of Ireland, particularly the monastic period.
The Heritage Centre is home to a round tower that stands over 30 meters tall and is one of the best-preserved towers in Ireland. Visitors can climb to the top and enjoy a stunning view of the surrounding countryside. The tower was used as a lookout point during times of invasion and is a fascinating testament to the rich history of the area.
8. The Abbeyleix Bog Project
The Abbeyleix Bog Project is an initiative to restore and conserve one of the country’s remaining raised bog ecosystems. This project, led by the Irish Peatland Conservation Council, aims to restore this beautiful habitat while also showcasing its cultural heritage – there’s a great deal of history surrounding this bog given its location in the middle of so many heritage sites. The project not only protects wildlife but also puts a particular emphasis on supporting rural communities in the area. Through talks and boardwalk tours around this newly rejuvenated landscape, locals can experience and learn more about their environment while enjoying its beauty at the same time.
9. Enjoy Festivals And Events
Check out the exciting festivals and events that take place in Laois throughout the year, the Stradbally Steam Rally, and the Abbeyleix Heritage Week.
One of the most popular events in Laois is the Electric Picnic, a three-day music and arts festival held in Stradbally each September. The festival attracts big-name acts from around the world, as well as thousands of music lovers who come to enjoy the party atmosphere.
For sports fans, the annual Laois GAA County Finals are not to be missed. These exciting games take place in O’Moore Park in Portlaoise and draw huge crowds from across the county. And for those who love good food, the annual Tullamore Show and AIB National Livestock Show is a must-visit event, showcasing the best of Irish agriculture and cuisine.
10. Explore Laois Towns And Villages
Discover the picturesque villages and towns that make up the heart of Laois, including the charming towns of Portlaoise, Mountmellick, and Abbeyleix. One of the most popular towns in Laois is Portlaoise, the county town. Here you’ll find a variety of shops, restaurants, and pubs, as well as a number of historic landmarks, including the ruins of the 16th-century Maryborough Castle. Another must-visit town is Abbeyleix, which is known for its beautiful gardens and Georgian architecture.
11. Heritage House
Heritage House Abbeylexis is a stunning home with plenty of history and character. Built-in 1699, this historic house has been restored to its former glory with intricate details like the original stone archways and classic Georgian windows. There are five bedrooms, each furnished with antique furniture to give it a real sense of elegance, and outdoor space for relaxing. The gardens are perfect for exploring – there’s even an old cider mill on the grounds! Inside, you’ll find charming features like fireplaces and oak beams alongside modern amenities such as free WiFi access. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or just a place to escape from it all Heritage House Abbeylexis is the perfect spot!
12. Solas Eco Garden Centre – A Sustainable Haven In Laois
Solas Eco Garden Centre is a sustainable haven located in Laois, Ireland. This unique garden centre is dedicated to promoting sustainable living and environmental awareness through its products and services.
The centre offers a wide range of organic and eco-friendly gardening supplies, including seeds, plants, compost, fertilizers, and gardening tools. All of their products are carefully chosen to minimize environmental impact and promote sustainable living practices.
One of the unique features of Solas Eco Garden Centre is its commitment to education. They offer a variety of workshops and classes on topics such as organic gardening, permaculture, beekeeping, and composting. These workshops are designed to educate and empower people to make more sustainable choices in their own lives.
13. Hidden Gems
Here are some hidden gems in the area to check out!
Gash Gardens is a hidden gem located in the heart of County Laois, Ireland. It is a privately owned garden that is open to the public during the summer months, from May to August. This stunning garden has been lovingly created by the Gash family over the past 30 years, and it offers a unique experience for visitors.
As soon as you enter the garden, you will be struck by the incredible beauty of the surroundings. The garden is set within 20 acres of woodland, and it is home to a wide variety of plants, trees, and flowers from all over the world. The Gash family has created a series of winding paths, water features, and stone structures that weave through the garden, creating a magical and enchanting atmosphere and biodiversity. The garden centre features a range of habitats, including a woodland area, a wildflower meadow, and a pond, all of which provide a haven for local wildlife
The Fisherman’s Thatched Inn
The Fisherman’s Thatched Inn is a charming and cosy spot nestled in the heart of the countryside. Perfect for an evening getaway, this 17th-century inn serves up some surprisingly delicious food! The menu offers an eclectic mix of traditional English fare including homemade fish stew, freshly caught crab claws and cod fillet among other choices. With its low beamed ceiling, eclectic paintings and crackling log fire, diners can almost feel like they’ve stepped back in time as soon as they walk through the door. The knowledgeable staff are always on hand to help you decide between a glass of local ale or one of their exquisite wines from around the world.
14. Check Out A Few Of The Local Pubs In Laois
Laois, Ireland has many great pubs where visitors can enjoy a pint of Guinness and experience the local culture. Here are some of the best pubs in Laois:
- Kavanagh’s Pub – Located in Portlaoise, Kavanagh’s is a popular spot for live music and traditional Irish sessions. The pub has a cosy atmosphere and friendly staff.
- Morrissey’s Pub – Situated in Abbeyleix, Morrissey’s is a traditional Irish pub with a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Visitors can enjoy live music on weekends and a pint of Guinness by the fire.
- The Olde Castle Bar – This family-run pub in the heart of Durrow offers a friendly welcome and great food. Visitors can sample local craft beers and enjoy traditional music sessions.
- Phelan’s Bar – Located in Mountmellick, Phelan’s is a popular spot for a pint and a chat. The pub has a cosy and friendly atmosphere, with live music and entertainment on weekends.
- The Thatch Pub – Situated in the picturesque village of Raheen, The Thatch is a must-visit for anyone looking for an authentic Irish pub experience. Visitors can enjoy a pint by the fire or outside in the beer garden.
No matter which pub you choose, you’re sure to have a great time in Laois, Ireland.
15. The Best Things To Do With Kids
There are many fun activities and attractions that are perfect for families with kids. Here are some of the best things to do with kids in Laois:
- Castlecomer Discovery Park – Located just outside Laois in neighbouring Kilkenny, this park offers a range of activities for kids, including tree-top walks, zip-lining, boating, and archery.
- Portlaoise Leisure Centre – This modern leisure centre offers a range of activities for kids, including swimming lessons, aqua aerobics, and a water slide.
- Dunamaise Arts Centre – This arts centre in Portlaoise offers a range of family-friendly activities, including theatre performances, art workshops, and cinema screenings.
If you’re planning a trip to Laois, Ireland, here are some travel tips and practical tips to keep in mind:
Transportation: Laois is well connected by public transport, with regular bus and train services. If you’re planning to explore the countryside, it’s best to rent a car or bike.
Accommodation: Laois has a range of accommodation options, including hotels, B&Bs, and guesthouses. It’s recommended to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak travel seasons.
Currency: The currency in Ireland is the Euro. Be sure to have some cash on hand, as some places may not accept credit cards.
Safety: Laois is generally a safe destination, but it’s always a good idea to take precautions. Be aware of your surroundings and belongings, especially in crowded areas.
Weather: The weather in Laois can be unpredictable, so be prepared for rain and bring appropriate clothing. It’s also a good idea to check the weather forecast before heading out.
Local Customs: Ireland has a rich cultural heritage, and it’s important to respect local customs and traditions. Be polite and friendly to locals, and avoid excessive drinking in public.
Food and Drink: Laois has a range of traditional Irish pubs and restaurants, offering local specialities such as Irish stew and fish and chips. Be sure to try some local beers and whiskey.
Attractions: Laois has many attractions, including historic sites, museums, and natural beauty spots. Be sure to research and plan ahead to make the most of your visit.
By keeping these travel tips and practical tips in mind, you can have a safe and enjoyable trip to Laois, Ireland.
In conclusion, visiting Laois in Ireland can be a wonderful experience for those who love nature, history, and culture. Laois is a county that is rich in heritage, with many ancient sites and attractions such as the Rock of Dunamase and the Slieve Bloom Mountains. Visitors can also enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, and cycling in the county’s stunning countryside. The county is also home to vibrant towns and villages with charming pubs and restaurants, where visitors can experience the warmth of Irish hospitality. Overall, Laois is a destination that offers something for everyone and is well worth a visit.
FAQ Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is Laois, Ireland’s official language?
2. What are Laois’s top attractions?
Rock of Dunamase, Emo Court and Gardens, Heywood Gardens, Slieve Bloom Mountains, and Laois Heritage Trail.
4. What are the best hotels in Laois?
Heritage Killenard, Midlands Park Hotel, Killeshin Hotel.