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County Laois Ireland | Things to See and Do

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County Laois  Ireland | Things to See and Do

County Laois is a county in Ireland. It is located in the south of the Midlands Region and in the province of Leinster. It was formerly known as Queen's County. The modern county takes its name from Loígis, a medieval kingdom. Historically, it has also been known as County Leix. Wikipedia   

The Rock of Dunamase 

Aghaboe Abbey

Brittas Lake 

Emo Court

Arderin

Ballaghmore Castle

The Fisherman’s Thatched Inn 

Dunamaise Arts Centre

Donaghmore Famine Workhouse Museum

Heywood Gardens

The Rock of Dunamase

From the top of a large limestone outcrop in county Laois, the imposing fortress at the Rock of Dunamase dominates the surrounding landscape.  It is strategically located, overlooking an important route between counties Carlow and Laois, and as result the castle played an important role in the early Anglo-Norman expansion in Leinster. Today most of the surviving ruins at the site date from the late 12th and early 13th centuries AD, but evidence for earlier activity also exists.

The Irish name for the castle (Dún Másc) translates as Masc’s fort and the rock appears to have been defended since at least the 9th century AD.  Some evidence for this earlier fort was identified during archaeological excavations carried out in the 1990s (Hodkinson 1995 & link). These revealed at least two enclosing drystone walls and an earthen bank which pre-dated the Anglo-Norman castle. In addition,  two copper-alloy decorative pieces of 9th century date were uncovered along with a silver Anglo-Saxon penny (Ecgberht of Wessex, 802-839 AD). This ties in with the historical record, as the first reference to Dunamase occurs in 843 AD when it was attacked by the Vikings (Annals of Four Masters).

It is not exactly certain who built the subsequent Anglo-Norman castle, but it may have been Meilyr FitzHenry, or possibly William Marshall, Lord of Leinster. Construction began sometime in the late 12th century and an impressive fortification was soon erected that cleverly utilised the rocks natural defensive features. It contained at least four lines of defence, including an outer and inner barbican, a curtain wall and a substantial inner keep.

From: https://lovetovisitireland.com/place/rock-of-dunamase/

Aghaboe Abbey

This fine abbey dates back to the 6th century. Its a lovely spot to take some time off. There is a big car par beside it and lots of places to sit and reflect on life. The site itself goes back to an earlier monastery that was burned in 1234.

Brittas Lake 

Clonaslee county Laois, Ireland. A small village in the center of Ireland, at the foot of the Sleibh Bloom. About half a mile from Clonaslee is a small lake, Brittas Lake, which has lovely walk around it. 

Emo Court

Emo Court House is an Irish historic house near Emo Village in County Laois. A long and colourful history has seen the house adapted and renovated many times. Emo Court House attracts visitors from all over the country and beyond. Designed by noted architect James Gandon, it features magnificent gardens and is located just 2.5 km from Emo village. Designed in 1790 for the Earls of Portarlington, Emo Court House is a magnificent example of the neo-classical style. After some periods of lying empty, it was acquired by the Jesuits in the middle of the 20th century. Functional renovations were made to the estate before it was sold to Major Cholmeley Harrison, a former London stockbroker, in the 1960s. In 1994 Cholmeley Harrison presented Emo Court House to the people of Ireland, continuing to live there in private apartments until his death in 2008. Staff of the Office of Public Works (OPW) now care for the estate and preserve its stately elegance for visitors.

Ballaghmore Castle

This is a tour of Ballaghmore Castle, Ireland which we rented for a week while we were there. Built in the 1480s, this was a proper castle!

Dunamaise Arts Centre

Donaghmore Famine Workhouse Museum

The story of Donaghmore Workhouse, in County Laois, Ireland.

Heywood Gardens

This virtual tour shows off the best of Heywood Gardens, Ballinakill Co Laois, designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and renowned landscaper Gertrude Jekyll.

Heritage Week 2020 - we can't meet up like we usually do, so lets connect virtually! Virtual tours of the top heritage sites in Laois, brought to you by locals.

The entrancing eighteenth-century landscape consists of formal gardens, lakes, woodland and architectural features. The park is set into a sweeping hillside. The vista to the south-east takes in seven counties.

The architect Sir Edwin Lutyens designed the formal gardens, which are the centrepiece of the property. It is likely that renowned designer Gertrude Jekyll landscaped them.

The gardens are composed of elements linked by a terrace that originally ran along the front of the house. (Sadly, the house is no more.) One of the site’s most unusual features is a sunken garden containing an elongated pool, at whose centre stands a grand fountain.

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