Things to do in Laois: Attending Famous Festivals, Uncovering Historical Ruins and Loads More
Updated On: November 08, 2023 by Sara Lynch
County Laois is a landlocked county located in the midlands of Ireland, in the province of Leinster. It is best known for hosting the annual Electric Picnic Festival and for being the home of the stunning Slieve Bloom Mountains.
In this article, we’ll explore some of the best things to do in Laois, from discovering natural landscapes to uncovering historic castle ruins, there is a lot you can get up to in Laois, you only need to keep reading to find out!
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Best Things to Do in Laois
Check out our recommendations for the best things to do in Laois, from historical ruins to well-preserved estates and natural landscapes, there is something in store no matter what you fancy.
Rock of Dunamase
The Rock of Dunamase, also known as Dunamase Castle or the Dunamase Fortress, is a historic site in County Laois. The origins of Dunamase Castle can be traced back to the 9th century and throughout its time, it played a significant role in historical conflicts.
The Rock of Dunamase is not only historically significant but it also holds a place in Irish folklore. Legend has it that the castle was the stronghold of the mythological warrior Laois, who gave his name to the county.
Visiting the Rock of Dunamase offers a fascinating opportunity to explore the castle’s ruins and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. The site is accessible via a short walk uphill, and once at the top, visitors can explore the remains of the castle, including the gatehouse, defensive walls, and some interior features.
Slieve Bloom Mountains
The Slieve Bloom Mountains are a picturesque mountain range located in the midlands of Ireland, spanning across the counties of Laois and Offaly. This magnificent range is known for its natural beauty, diverse flora and fauna, and numerous outdoor recreational opportunities.
There are numerous walking trails peppered throughout the Slieve Bloom Mountains, catering to various skill levels and hiking abilities. These trails allow visitors to explore the natural beauty of the area, discover hidden waterfalls, and take in panoramic views from the mountaintops. Popular routes include the Ridge of Capard Loop, Glenbarrow Looped Walk, and the Silver River Eco Trail.
The Slieve Bloom Mountains hold a rich historical and cultural significance as well. The area is dotted with ancient sites, and you may stumble across ring forts, burial cairns, and megalithic tombs, which offer glimpses into the region’s past.
Emo Court is a magnificent 18th-century country house and estate, situated near the village of Emo. It is renowned for its stunning architecture, exquisite gardens, and picturesque surroundings.
The house was designed in the neoclassical style by the renowned architect James Gandon and is characterised by its symmetrical façade, elegant proportions, and grandeur. The surrounding gardens and parkland of Emo Court are equally impressive, covering approximately 250 acres of manicured lawns, woodland walks, and a picturesque lake.
Today, it is managed by the Office of Public Works and serves as a popular tourist attraction. Visitors can take guided tours of the house, which showcase its impressive interiors and provide insights into the history and heritage of the estate.
Festival Things to do in County Laois
County Laois is a popular destination for annual festivals, which attract thousands of attendees every year, they are definitely one of the more cool things to do in Laois. Check out the details below!
Electric Picnic is an annual music and arts festival that takes place in County Laois, typically around September time. It is one of the largest and most popular festivals in the country, attracting thousands of music lovers and festival-goers from Ireland and around the world.
The festival takes place at Stradbally Hall, a country estate located near the town of Stradbally in County Laois. The picturesque surroundings of the estate provide a beautiful backdrop for the festival’s diverse range of musical acts.
Due to its popularity, Electric Picnic tickets tend to sell out quickly. It is advisable to plan and purchase tickets well in advance if you wish to attend the festival. The event attracts people of all ages and is known for its inclusive and friendly atmosphere. Attend this festival for an unforgettable weekend that blends music, art, food, and community in a picturesque setting.
Gordon Bennett Irish Classic Car Run
The Gordon Bennett Irish Classic Car Run is an annual event that celebrates vintage and classic cars in Ireland. The event brings together car enthusiasts from Ireland and around the world to showcase their cherished automobiles and enjoy a scenic drive through the Irish countryside.
Along the route, participants make various stops, where they can socialise, admire each other’s cars, and enjoy refreshments. The event also includes optional activities and entertainment, such as car displays, live music, and awards ceremonies, adding to the festive atmosphere.
Museums to Visit in County Laois
There are various museums that you can visit in County Laois, each focusing on a unique part of Laois’s history and heritage. Check them out below.
Donaghmore Famine Workhouse Museum
This museum provides a glimpse into the harsh conditions that many Irish people endured during the Great Famine, paying homage to the victims of the Famine and remembering their tragic stories.
Irish Fly Fishing and Game Shooting Museum
This museum is dedicated to the 300-year-old history of hunting and fishing in Ireland. Here you can immerse yourself in countryside rural living and explore how the people of Ireland once lived.
This museum focuses on the Quaker heritage of the town and its unique embroidery style. Learn about how the girls in the Quaker school were taught this specific embroidery style as a way to earn a living.
Stradbally Steam Museum
This museum houses a collection of steam-driven vehicles and machinery that were once central to transport and agriculture in Ireland.
Things to see in County Laois
In addition to the above-mentioned destinations, you should also check out these other places to see and things to do in Laois.
Abbeyleix Bog is a large peatland that is home to a variety of native wildlife. It also has several walking trails to explore the countryside of Ireland.
This is a luxury hotel set in a historic mansion and surrounded by beautiful grounds. It is definitely worth visiting even if you’re not staying in the hotel.
The Barrow Way is a walking trail that follows the original towpath beside the river. It is a beautiful scenic path to admire the waterways of Ireland.
Want to See More of Ireland?
If you’re planning a trip around Ireland, check out what else you can do in surrounding counties: Things to do in Mayo | Things to do in Antrim | Things to do in Derry | Things to do in Fermanagh | Things to do in Armagh | Things to do in County Down | Things to do in Monaghan | Things to do in Roscommon | Things to do in Donegal | Things to do in Sligo | Things to do in Leitrim | Things to do in Louth | Things to do in Cavan | Things to do in Longford | Things to do in Meath | Things to do in Westmeath | Things to do in Dublin | Things to do in Offaly | Things to do in Kildare | Things to do in Wicklow