Located in County Laois which was constituted in 1556 by Queen Mary, Portlaoise is today has the dubious distinction of being home to Ireland's biggest maximum security prison. The town itself is modern and is quite interesting and it can also be a good base to explore the surrounding countryside. While in town, take the time to visit Maryborough Fort which was built in 1548. You can visit the Rampart Tower and the remains of the walls.

You could also visit the courthouse that was built in 1782. A World War I monument was erected in memory of the men of the 4th Battalion (Leinster) Queens County Regiment who fell in battle. Portlaoise is also home to what is reputed to be one of the best equestrian centres in the country. Accommodation could be organised at the centre.

About 4 miles east of the town is the impressive Rock of Dunamase. The rock was easy to defend due to its slippery slopes and there have been fortifications on it since the Iron Age .

Eight miles North of the town is Emo Court. The house was commissioned by the Earl of Portarlington in 1790. This monumental Neo-classical mansion has a splendid facade.

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