County Laois (pronounced like “leash”) is the most landlocked of all the Irish counties. Located in the Midlands region, it borders no coastal counties and, as a result, is a low tourism destination. It in the Leinster province, which also includes counties Dublin, Kildare, Kilkenny, and Wicklow, among others. The main town in County Laois is Portlaoise, where a big industrial development still doesn’t sustain the population of 20,000. Many residents prefer to commute to work in other counties, some going as far as Dublin.
You can reach Portlaois by train or bus from Dublin, Limerick, Shannon or another major city, but to further explore the region you will need your own transportation.
History in County Laois began in the prehistoric era, but it was the Bronze Age inhabitants that left the largest mark. Visitors can explore the stone circle, burial mounds, and hill forts left by them. The introduction of Christianity, in the 5th century, brought on the founding of abbeys and convents across the region. These are still standing and can be accessed by car.
The county has some interesting architecture and historical attractions, but there is one major attraction in County Laois that brings in a roaring crowd each year. This is Electric Picnic, a rock festival that takes place each September at Stradbally Hall. 2016 acts included Noel Gallagher, Lana del Ray, and The Shins.
Accommodation in County Laois is centred in Portlaoise. Travellers looking for hostels should research well in advance, as there are very few in the area. Other types of accommodation include guesthouses, B&Bs, and hotels, should a hostel be full when you arrive. If you plan to attend Electric Picnic, there is camping on site which should be booked when you purchase tickets.
Once you are settled into the hostel of your choice, head out to explore the many hiking trails - 480km worth! - in the Slieve Bloom Mountains, including the oft-tramped Slieve Bloom Way. Tranquil outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy a round of golf at Abbeyleix, one of the best courses in the country, or a bog walk through the countryside. With two rivers, the Barrow and the More, fishing and canoeing are big sports in this county. Whatever you choose to do in County Laois, you will enjoy it!
Hi, I'm Jakob Lombardi,
the Hostelz.com local expert for County Laois hostels. Welcome.