Portlaoise Tourist Attractions
Portlaoise (Port Laoise, "Fort of Laois"; pronounced Portleesh) lies in southeastern central Ireland on the railroad line from Dublin to Cork. It is an important road junction (the N7, N8, N80).The town was destroyed in the 17th century and no buildings of that period remain. The Court House and the town are both early 19th century.
Portlaoise Jazz Festival
This annual four-day festival takes place in early June.
The surroundings of Portlaoise are worth visiting.
In Emo, a village on the N80 about 8mi/13km from Portlaoise, stands Emo House, a late 18th C. mansion designed by James Gandon. The park, with its yew-lined avenues, its extensive lawns and rare plants and shrubs, is ideal for walking.The house and gardens were taken into State ownership in 1994.
Opening hours: Jun 15 to Sep 15: 10:30am-5pm; Closed: Mon
Entrance fee in EUR: Family €7.00, Adult €2.75, Senior €2.00, Group discounts €2.00, Child €1.25
Useful tips: Garden open all year, daily during daylight hours. Hours apply to house. Last admission 45 minutes before closing. Access by guided tour only.
Disability Access: Partial facilities for persons with disabilities.
Guides: Guided tour included with admission.
Rock of Dunamase
From Portlaoise the N80 runs eastwards passing in 3mi/5km the Rock of Dunamase, an imposing 200ft/60m high crag with the ruins of a large and forbidding castle (10th-17th C.): a rectangular keep, bastioned and turreted walls, a gatehouse, curtain walls and a moat. Fine panoramic views.
8mi/13km southwest of Timahoe on minor roads is Abbeyleix, an attractive little planned town laid out by an 18th century Viscount de Vesci on the site of an old monastery.Abbeyleix has a number of historical structures that are still standing such as ancient ring forts, burial grounds, early monastic buildings, Norman and medieval castles, and colonial estate houses.
Slieve Bloom Mountains
To the west of Portlaoise the Slieve Bloom Mountains rise to 1,700ft/520m, with beautiful valleys which are best reached on attractive minor roads, from Mountrath. The rivers offer both game and coarse fishing.
7mi/11km northwest of Portlaoise is Mountmellick, almost completely encircled by the River Owenass (trout fishing). Here the Quakers opened their first school in Ireland in 1677; and at Rosenallis, 4.5mi/7km northwest at the foot of the Slieve Bloom Mountains, they established their first large cemetery. At Mountmellick, and also to the north of Portlaoise, are swarms of drumlins (whale-backed mounds of boulder clay, of glacial origin).
French Festival, Portarlington
The annual Portarlington French Festival takes place in mid-July, mixing traditional Irish entertainment with French culture. Jazz sessions, snail eating competitions, art exhibitions, concerts and dance recitals are only among the many events offered during this event.
The gardens were completed in 1912 with woodland, lakes and architectural features. It has transferred to State ownership in November 1993. Re-planting program is currently underway.