Located in the heart of Ireland’s most beautiful landscapes, County Laois is easily accessible to most places in the country. A county of rich contrast, Laois is a place for people who want a different experience of Ireland. In Laois, the oldest mountain range in Europe looks out over lush gardens, great houses and the true heart of Ireland.
Things to do
Laois is an unspoiled natural beauty with an old soul Home to the Slieve Bloom, Europe’s oldest mountain range, the county’s history can be traced right back; through the Historic houses, the ruins and the myths, to the channels carved into the mountains by retreating glaciers,15000 years ago.
The Slieve Bloom is beautifully untouched, a set piece from mythology. It’s where the Irish hero Finn McCool was raised and where you get the sense that no one has been there since, once you start to explore.
The summit of Arderin provides the unique vantage point from which you can see more of Ireland than from any other location.
Framed in the beauty of that landscape is Emo Court, once the seat of the Earls of Ross, now open to the public and a beautiful lesson in history and architecture.
Just down the road, perched on it’s own lofty seat, is the Rock of Dunnamaise. Ideally situated as a defensive position, the outcropping of rock was first settled in the 9th century and now stands guard over the M7 motorway.
Laois is also home to many fabulous gardens that are open to the public. One of those is Heywood Garden. Located in Ballinakill, it was designed by Edwin Luytens, who has been described as “the Greatest British architect. It is a stunning intersection between natural and man made beauty and a must see.
The heritage towns of Abbeyleix and Durrow are two other reasons visit Laois. Fantastically preserved Georgian towns set a few miles apart, these are towns with a sense of fun, playing host to several festivals celebrating books, beer and scarecrows, to name a few.
Hidden Ireland Historic Country Guest Houses
Bed and Breakfast
Built in 1730, Roundwood House retains all of her original architectural features and invites you on a journey back in time. A dramatic two story entrance hall greets you, while antique furniture and paintings, an extensive library, and a menagerie of farm animals all form the backdrop for a relaxing stay in the unspoiled Irish countryside. Food is a very important part of the Roundwood experience, so if you enjoy good food we should get along fine. Roundwood is a perfect base for exploring the midlands and is only one hour and fifteen minutes from Dublin. While you’re here, there’s plenty to keep you occupied. The Slieve Bloom is the oldest mountain range in Europe and it’s right on our doorstep. There is an extensive system of trails for all levels of walkers, as well as cycling and horse riding nearby to explore the untouched countryside. Within easy driving distance there’s fishing, several golf courses and Lough Boora Parklands, which features one of the world’s most innovative environmental sculpture parks. Actually, I’m not aware of any other environmental sculpture parks, but it’s a pretty amazing place. If you’d prefer civilization to wilderness, we are close to some of Ireland’s most charming towns. Birr, Cahir and Kilkenny (each with their own castle) are all within a 45 minute drive, and the rock of Cashel and the Unesco World Heritage site of Clonmacnoise aren’t much further. For those of you feeling a little less energetic, there’s a spot waiting for you in front of the fire, some great wines to choose from and several books that you’ve been meaning to read. If, on the other hand, you’re one of those who prefers their Kindle, we have wi-fi so you can download while you unload. ”…This is the old school of Irish hospitality – understated, loquacious, arranged by people who have the time to talk to you and to take care of you. The result of their patient, gracious care is that everyone feels special when staying here…” Bridgestone Guide: Top 100 Places to Stay in Ireland
The Old Forge & The Cottage
Hidden away in the woods on the grounds of Roundwood House is the Cottage, originally the gardener’s dwelling.