Irish Name: Laoise - ""(The Men of) Lugaid Laígne"
County Town: Portlaoise
Nickname: The O'Moore County
GAA Colors: Blue and White
Famous People with Laois roots: William Russell Grace, the first Catholic Mayor of New York, also known as the Pirate of Peru; Charles Carroll who was a signatory of the American Declaration of Independence; William Bulfin who wrote the famous 'Rambles in Eirinn',; Col. Oliver North of the U.S. Army, and the internationally renowned poet Patrick Kavanagh.
An oasis of rural quietude in the middle of Ireland Laois offers a wide choice of activities and sights to see to the visitor. With more than a thousand historical sites and monuments in the country Laois is worthy place of pilgrimage for anyone with an interest in Irish history and heritage.
For centuries Laois was a battleground between the English and the native Irish. The Rock of Dunamase is one of the county's most important historical sites and was destroyed by Cromwell in 1650 as a centre of Irish resistance.
One of the more unusual attractions in Laois is the Sensory Gardens in Abbeyleix. The first of its kind in Ireland the Gardens offer a feast for the senses. Set in the walled gardens of the Brigidine Convent the sense of peace and serenity there encourages contemplation and relaxation.
The countryside is one of long, sloping hills and plains. The midlands of Ireland stretch off into the distance and every hill or rise allows the visitor to behold a new delight. The Slieve Bloom Mountains are a sight to behold and three or six day horseback tours of the Slieve Bloom Way available. It is a wondrous journey through valleys and glens and the green forests and heather strewn bogland that makes Laois' landscape so unique and so attractive.
Though a small landlocked county Laois has plenty of inland waterways and there is good fishing to be had in the Barrow and Nore rivers. Apart from the Slieve Bloom Way there are plenty of other well-marked trails for those interested in hill-walking or equestrian activities.
The major towns of the county like Portlaoise, Portarlington and Abbeyleix are rich in history and even richer in the quality of the welcome that will be given to any guest. Laois is a place almost every visitor passes through in Ireland on their way to the better known tourist areas like the West or Dublin but it has a special charm of its own that becomes rapidly evident as soon as you start to explore Laois.
Common Surnames in Laois: Ashton, Bennett, Brennan, Buggy, Butler, Byrne, Carroll, Clarke, Conroy, Delaney , Dempsey, DeVesey, Dixon, Dolan, Dooliney, Doran, Dowling, Dunn, Dunne, Ferguson, Fitzgerald, Fitzpatrick, Flynn, Galbraith, Gorman, Greenham, Harrigan, Holmes, Kavanagh, Kelly, Kennedy, Lalor, Langton, Moore, Mortimer, MacCashin, MacCostigan, MacCrossan, MacDonnell, MacEvoy, MacGilpatrick, MacGorman, Maher, Meredith, Mortimer, Murphy , O'Bracken, O'Breen, O'Brennan, O'Brogan, O'Brophy, O'Deegan, O'Delany, O'Dempsey, O'Devoy, O'Doran, O'Dowling, O'Duff, O'Dunn, O'Hourihan, O'Healy, O'Keally, O'Kelly, O'Lawlor, O'Mooney, O'More, O'Mulhall, O'Regan, O'Tracey, Perry, Phelan, Pimm/Pymm, Roberts, Ryan, Treacy/Tracey, Vousden, Whelan