Laois

Laois

One of Ireland's midland counties, Laois is the only county in Ireland not bordered by a county with a coast and much of the county is covered by blanket bog.

County Laois was established in 1588 by the Queen of England Mary I and was originally titled Queens County. The county town of Portlaoise was originally called Maryborough, when the county was first planted by English settlers under the Earl of Sussex. The county was further taken over by the English Protestants who served Cromwell in the 17th Century and later by French Protestant Huguenots who served William of Orange, many of their houses can still be seen in the town of Portarlington. When Ireland gained independence in 1921, Queen's County became County Laois.

Stretching across much of County Laois is the Bog of Allen, which has been heavily harvested over the past 50 years for its valuable source of peat fuel. To the north west of the county along the border with Offaly are the Slieve Bloom Mountains, a small rocky range, of peaks no taller than 528m.

One of the most prominent sights in County Laois is the Rock of Dunamase once a hill top fortress that resisted all attempts at siege from Vikings and Normans until Cromwell's troops sacked it in the 17th Century and left Dunamase to ruin. The view from the Rock across the flat plain is stunning.

Famous people from Laois include William Russell Grace, the first Catholic Mayor of New York, also known as the Pirate of Peru.

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