County Laois coat of arms
Not to be confused with a Southeast Asian country, Co. Laois, which sounds like "leash", is Ireland's most landlocked county, bordering on no other coastal counties. Mostly pastoral countryside and bogs, Laois brings in relatively few visitors, save for the first weekend in September, when hordes of musos and fanboys pour in for the Electric Picnic rock festival at Stradbally Hall.
Co. Laois, credit: laoistourism.ie
Formerly known as "Queen's County", Laois got its current name after the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922. The county town, Portlaoise, has seen a fair bit of industrial development over the past decade, but many Laoise residents opt to commute to Kildare or as far afield as Dublin for high-tech jobs.
Heywood Gardens, Co. Laois
The Slieve Bloom Mountains cover a huge portion of the northwest part of Laois, spilling over into Co. Offaly and providing some 480 km of walking trails, including the well-trodden Slieve Bloom Way.
Slieve Bloom Walking Festival, co. Laois
Historically, Laois goes back thousands of years. A preserved Bronze Age stone circle at Monamonry and several hill forts at Clopook, Monelly and, especially, Skirk, offer a view to the county's ancient past. Early Christian remains culminate in the Rock of Dunamase, a 9th-century monastic fort that was partially blown up by Oliver Cromwell's invading armies in the 17th century.
Rock of Dunamase, Co. Laois
The impressive Emo Court House and Gardens in Portlaoise were built in the 1790s for an English earl and strongly resemble the austere, neoclassical style of architect James Gandon, who also designed the Four Courts and Custom House in Dublin.
Emo Court House and Gardens, Portlaois, Co. Laois
Interestingly and perhaps surprisingly, Laois became the first place in Ireland with an African mayor, when in 2009, Portlaoise elected Nigerian-born Rotimi Adebari to office. Other notable Laois people include the first Roman Catholic mayor of New York City, William Russell Grace, as well as beloved Irish celebrity chef, Darina Allen, who was born in Portlaoise.
Our team of researchers and genealogists at has put together the following '101-Must-Visit' locations and trips for you for Laois. We only pick the best locations to visit, dine in or stay at, and the best ancestral research resources we can find in that area. Enjoy!
I've been tracing my family history for the last two years. I live in upstate, New York in the U.S., but my paternal great-grandfather, who migrated to the U.S., along with his sister, in the early 1850s, was from County Laois. I don't have many Irish records of him or his sister, but I did find a marriage record and property rental record that reference two places in County Laois; Crissard and Cropard. I have managed to find Crissard, which I believe is (or perhaps was?) a Townland in the County, just a bit north/northwest of Wolfhill. I can find no other references to a place called Cropard in County Laois, however. Is there such a place in the County? Perhaps it is a place name that is no longer in use? I also realize that it could have simply been a recording error. Thank you for your time.
...Electric Picnic is hugely popular...it has something for everyone and is one of the best festivals in the world...if you can get a ticket!
Hi Carol - we are launching a new 'missing ancestors' database, and a wider genealogists team soon. Both will help you, so watch this space.
How can I find information on Thomas Flanagan born 1822 in Laois, Ireland. Father Jno Flanagan, mother My Phelan? Thank you for your cooperation.
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