Heritage Trail


Laois Heritage

The built, natural and cultural heritage of Laois is all around us. The preservation of this heritage for the education and enjoyment of present and future generations is a responsibility which we must all share. The Laois Heritage Forum advises the local authority under whose auspices Laois was one of the first counties to produce a comprehensive Heritage Plan from 2001 to 2006. A new plan to address the challenges of the next five years is now at the draft stage.

Built Heritage

Laois has a fascinating built heritage and can boast some of the finest of our Great Houses. The story of EMO Court alone could fill volumes and bring the reader through the ebb and flow of the lives of Earls of Portarlington, its use as a convent, its resurgence under the care of and intriguing man whose generosity will allow many generations to come to know this story all the better for being able to visit this stately mansion and wonderful gardens.

Natural Heritage

Our natural heritage is in our landscape, that which we can see, hear and touch and that which lies beneath. Our large tracts of unspoilt eskers our river courses our ancient mountains have evolved into the beauty which is there to behold today we have but to take the time to appreciate it. The very ancient Slieve Blooms must be the jewel in the crown but a simple change of route from the main road along a vast network of country roads is only moments away from any one of us.

Cultural Heritage

Our culture makes us what we are and to experience it is to gain an understanding of who we are and where we have come from. Our music and song is that which can make us both laugh and cry, makes us remember and helps us not to forget. There is hardly a town of village where music cannot be experienced, whether in a formal organised fashion or through the impromptu Seisiún. Our handcrafts can also be seen through new generations of craftsmen and women whose themes reflect may of the old traditions, our museums and festivals also capture the ancient skills for our young generations to see and experience

Aghaboe Abbey

Join the N7 again at Borris-in-Ossory and follow the Heritage Trail signs to Aghaboe Abbey. Founded by St. Canice in the sixth century, this Abbey has a turbulent history. Take time to stop at the Abbey and read the plaque there detailing its history.

Village of Durrow

Continue following the Heritage Trail signs to the planned estate village of Durrow. This town developed under the patronage of the Viscounts of Ashbrook and is home to a suite of interesting buildings around the village green.

Heywood Garden

Picking up the Heritage Trail signs again in Durrow, continue on to Ballinakill. An example of a seventeenth century market town, Ballinakill is home to the beautiful Heywood Garden completed in 1912 by Sir Edward Lutyens. The delightful walled enclosure consists of lawns, lakes, trees, hedges, pools and much more to surprise and enchant the visitor.

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From Ballinakill, the Heritage Trail will take you to the Heritage Town of Abbeyleix. Regarded as a fine example of a planned estate town, Abbeyleix was established under the Viscounts de Vesci. For a detailed and interesting history of the town and its surrounding area, visit the Heritage House in the old Patrician National School.


Tigh Mochua: House of Mochua.

The village community of Timahoe is beautifully situated in a broad and fertile valley, underneath Fossy Mountain on one side and Cullenagh Mountain on the other.

The river Bauteogue meanders between the Goose Green and the 7th century monastic site founded by Saint Mochua. The well preserved 12th. century Round Tower stands an impressive 96 feet high and is renowned for its carved Romanesque doorway.

Round Tower, Timahoe

From Abbeyleix the Heritage Trail takes you through Ballyroan to the hidden beauty of Timahoe village. Here you will find a twelfth century Round Tower with an impressive Romanesque doorway. The tower is all that remains of the original monastic foundation of the seventh century. Beside the Tower is the Church of Ireland,which is now used as a library.

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Rock of Dunamaise

Mapped by Ptolemy in 140 A.D., plundered by Vikings in 842 A.D., the dowry of a princess in 1169, seat of the O’ Mores of Laois in the 14th century and destroyed by Cromwell’s forces in 1650 and currently the subject of a conservation project, this magical fortress is truly the stuff of legend and is well worth a visit.

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Emo Court

On the trail again you will find yourself in the canal village of Vicarstown. The Heritage Trail then takes you along to Emo Court House and Gardens designed by the famous Sir James Gandon in 1790.
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Following on from Emo Court the trail will bring you into the town of Portarlington, which has a long established connection with the French Hugeunots. The town has Georgian, Hugeunot and Victorian architecture of exceptional quality.


Next on the trail is the town of Mountmellick. This town has its own Walking Heritage Trail and information boards are dotted throughout the town.

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“Poet ’s Cottage ”,Camross

Follow the Heritage Trail signs out of Mountmellick to Camross and enjoy this beautiful little village at the foot of the Slieve Bloom Mountains. The “Poet ’s Cottage ”here in Camross is a restored famine cottage. See the mapboard in the village for more information on the Slieve Bloom Mountains.

These are just the highlights of this wonderful county of ours. For further information on the county please contact the TOURIST OFFICE on (057 86)21178.

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