Population 91, 657 (Census 2022)
County Laois ( leesh – Irish Contae Laoise) is located in the south of the Midlands taking its name from Loígis, a medieval kingdom. Even though it is considered to be“the most landlocked county in Ireland” there is plenty of panoramic views and stunning sights to see. From old forts, to medieval castles, walkers need look no further.
The Slieve Bloom mountains are an ideal spot for walking, biking, angling, horse-riding and bird-watching. Dotted around the county are early Christian forts and remnants of old stone fortresses for eg. Rock of Dunamase to old Abbeys, the best standing example is St. Mochua’s Abbey in Timahoe which dates from 550 AD.
The Slieve Blooms feature both looped trails and specific eco walks designed for those interested in exploring the fauna and flora of the region. Some popular trails include the Glenbarrow Eco Walk and waterfall and panoramic views from the Ridge of Capard. Access to the mountains is easiest by taking Exit 18 off the M7 for Mountmellick and following the R422 for Rosenallis, Clonaslee, Cadamstown, and Kinnitty. From Clonaslee here it is very easy to follow the mountain road over ‘the Cut’ towards Mountrath. The Slieve Bloom, along with the Massif central in France, are one of the oldest mountain ranges in Europe; and on a clear day, you can see the high points of the four ancient provinces of Ireland. A recent addition to the outdoor activities in the Slieve Bloom Mountains is the Slieve Bloom Mountain Biking trails. The trails can be accessed from 2 trailheads, one at Kinnitty Village and the second at Baunreagh near Mountrath.
Laois is also home to some charming towns and villages, including the heritage town of Abbeyleix. Make sure to visit Abbeyleix Bog and discover a rich diversity of habitats and wildlife. A safe 3.5km boardwalk also allows visitors to traverse raised bogland with 500 acres of diverse habitats www.abbeyleixbog.ie
Laois is well known for it’s festivals especially The Electric Picnic. Described as ‘Ireland’s Glastonbury’, It was voted as the Best European Festival in 2010. It all began in 2004 in Stradbally hall as a relaxing boutique festival with anything from silent discos to Yoga, comedy, family areas and of course international music acts. For a festival that started off as a one day event with 10,000 people attending, now it is a 3 day event with 70,000 capacity, making it one of the biggest ever festivals held in Ireland with acts like Billie Eilish, Kraftwerk and Fontaines D.C.
Discover more about Laois on https://laoistourism.ie/