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County Laois is located in central Ireland, with counties Offaly and Kildare to the north, County Tipperary to the east, and counties Kilkenny and Carlow to the southwest. The area is also known as “Queen’s County,” and was historically called County Leix. As of the 2016 census, there are approximately 84,697 people living within the borders of the region, with about 84% of the population being white. The first people to inhabit the region were hunters and gatherers over 8,000 years ago. In 1556, County Laois became known as “Queen’s County,” when Queen Mary sired the county, which was previously multiple counties known as Leix, Slewmarge, Irry, and parts of Glimnary. [1] The topography of the region features the upper Nore and Barrow Rivers, as well as the Slieve Bloom Mountains and the Castlecomer Plateau. The largest town in the county is Portlaoise, while most inhabitants of the region live in relatively smaller villages and towns. Many of these people live on farms that range from 70 to 80 acres each.[2] Throughout the year, the temperature ranges from 35 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. The best reported time to visit the area is from late June to late August, based on warmer weather that is characteristic of those months. [4]

What Laois is known for

County Laois, sometimes spelled Laoighis, is situated in Ireland, surrounded by counties Carlow and Kilkenny to the southwest, Offaly and Kildare to the north, and Tipperary to the east. The land-locked county is central in the country, just east of being in the middle of the country. Per the 2016 census, the population of the region is 84,697. Throughout the year, there are at least 20 festivals held in the borders of the county, including the Half Door Club Music and Set Dance Festival, Heartlands Rally, Stradbally National Steam Rally, and the Laois International Golf Challenge.[1] The Rose of Tralee festival, in particular, is celebrated in various counties across the country and is inspired by the Mary Ballad, which was written in the 19th century. Women from across Ireland enter a contest to win the honor of being the Rose for the year and travel to each county for their Rose festival.[7]

The name of the county came from a medieval kingdom that was in the area, Loigis. For many years the nickname of the county was “Queen’s County,” and it has also been called “O’Moore County,” in the past. Portlaoise, the largest town within the destination, is named after the county and was originally owned by the O’Moore family, hence the nickname of O’Moore County. Across the landscape of the area can be found castles, forts, and towers still intact from when they were originally built as far back as the 1600s.[6]

Attractions found within the destination mainly consist of natural areas and historic sites. The Rock of Dunamse, a fortress, is located in Aghnahily. Experts believe the fortress was built between the 12th and 13th centuries, although some evidence found within the fortress may date back to the 9th century, leading some to believe that it was a fortification built by Viking settlers. Brittas Lake is also located within the county and is surrounded by forests and woodlands. Activities at the lake include picnics, trail walking, and observing nature. In Portlaoise, the Dunmaise Art Centre is open to tourists hoping to view new, local, and established performances of theatre, music, dance, art, and film. The program changes frequently, and more information about what is currently available can be found online.[3]

The demographics of those living within County Laois are predominantly white, with 84% of the population identifying as “white Irish,” in the 2016 census, followed by 8% as white (non-Irish), and 2% as black. Since 2002, the population of the county has been steadily increasing, with the population reportedly being 58,774 in 2002 and rising to 84,697 in 2016. The most notable increase was between 2002 to 2006, when the population increased by 14% in four years.[1] Over one-third of the total population of County Laois resides in towns and villages, the largest of which is Port Laoise. Many of the residents in the county work on farmlands. Each farm is generally 70-80 acres, and the total amount of farmland in the county accounts for approximately four-fifths of the total land in the county.[2]


Based on the weather, the reported best time to visit County Laois is from late June through late August. The summer months have clearer skies generally, with the high being around 63 degrees Fahrenheit. The hottest month of the year for the region is July, with average temperatures ranging from 52 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. The reported coldest month to visit the county is January, with highs in the low 40s daily. If tourists are looking for a dry time of year to visit the area, the best time is from February to October. April has the least number of rainy days, with there being only eight to nine days of rainfall reported annually.[4]

Laois is the 23rd largest county both in terms of population and the physical area encompassed. A notable aspect about the country is that not only is it landlocked—not touching the ocean on any side—it is double landlocked, meaning that each of the counties that border the region is also landlocked, making County Laois at least two counties away from the ocean on each side.[1] Most of the region is farmland, with a fifth of the land being bogs, one-fifth being cropland, and the other three-fifths being permanent pasture land for various animals. Some of the main crops grown in the county consist of wheat, barley, turnips, and sugar beets. Most of the pastureland is for dairy cows, pigs, and beef cattle.[2]

County Laois has a variety of flora and fauna native to the region which those visiting the area may be able to see during their trip. A diverse range of birds call the area home, such as the Eurasian blackbird, great cormorant, tufted duck, and meadow pipit. In addition to fowl, there is a range of flowers and foliage that inhabit the region. Some common flowers in County Laois are scarlet pimpernel, Himalayan honeysuckle, cuckooflower, and bog asphodel. Wall rue, deer fern, and rustyback are types of foliage that can be found in the region as well. [5]


The earliest known inhabitants of County Laois are believed to have been in the area as far back as the Neolithic Period, sometime between 4000 BC and 2500 BC. These people lived in the forested areas of the region, cleared the trees, and began farming the land. By 2500 BC, it is believed that most of the population of Ireland was living in, what is today known as, County Laois. Various forts that were erected during this time are presently available for people to visit such as Skirk, Clapook, and Monelly. In 1169, the Normans invaded Ireland and took control of the area. Castles from this time period are still around today, such as the Rock of Dunamase.[7]

As well as the aforementioned historical sites that tourists can visit in the county, visitors can see the Emo Court, which was designed in the 1790s for the Earl of Portarlington. The gardens and park that surround the edifice are free to the public and open throughout the year. There is a manmade lake on the grounds as well as a mile of sequoia trees leading to the building. Additionally, the Old Fort of Maryborough is a historical site for those looking to learn more about the history of the area. Located in Portlaoise, the fort was originally a 16th-century settlement and was the scene of many battles between English settlers and Gaelic chieftains. [8]