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County Laois ( "leash" – ) is one of the traditional counties of Ireland and is located within the province of Leinster. Its name was formerly spelt as Laoighis and Leix.

Laois is the 24th largest of Ireland’s 32 counties in area and 24th largest in terms of population. It is the seventh largest of Leinster’s 12 counties in size and tenth largest in terms of population.


Shired in 1556 by Queen Mary as Queen's County, Laois received its present Irish language name following the Irish War of Independence. Laois was also sometimes spelt "Leix". Portlaoisemarker (previously Maryborough) is the county town. Laois was the subject of two Plantations or colonisations by English settlers. The first occurred in 1556, when the Earl of Sussex dispossessed the O'Moore clan and attempted to replace them with English settlers. However, this only led to a long drawn out guerilla war in the county and left a small English community clustered around garrisons. There was a more successful plantation in the county in the 17th century, which expanded the existing English settlement with more landowners and tenants from England. Neither plantation was fully successful due to a lack of tenants and because of continuous raids and attacks by the O' Moores.

Later, the county became home to a community of French Huguenots in the 1690s, who were settled in Ireland after their service to William of Orange in the Williamite war in Ireland. In addition to this, large numbers of Quakers settled in Mountmellickmarker and developed the area.

Despite the change of the county's name in 1922, when land is sold in the county the relevant title deeds are still updated as being in Queen's County.


The county is landlocked and, uniquely amongst Irish counties it does not border any other counties with a sea coast. It is therefore considered to be "the most landlocked county in Ireland"

Towns and villages

Countryside south of Portlaoise


A new weather station broadcasts from Durrow providing real time data. Click Here for Current Data The station was set up in May 2008. It is a Davis ProVantage 2 station and monitors temperature, rain, wind, wind direction, humidity and atmospheric pressure.


The population of County Laois is expanding rapidly, given its easy commute to the employment centres of Kildare and Dublin, and affordable housing in pleasant surroundings. Laois’s population growth during the period 2002-2006 (14%) has been stronger than the National average (8.2%), as follows:
  • 2002 ... 58,774
  • 2006 ... 67,012 ... +14.01%


Agricultural activities occupy approximately 70 % of the land area of the county ( ). However agriculture's share of income in the BMW region of which Laois is a part has declined sharply in the past decade, and represented only approximately 3.9% of annual income (GVA) in 2005 Central Statistics Office. The county is home to over 230,000 cattle, four cows for every person. The remaining area includes considerable stretches of raised bog, and the Slieve Bloom mountains, which are partially covered by coniferous forest.

The county has a small industrial base, with industrial parks at Portlaoise, Portarlington and Mountmellick. Over 1500 people work in the industrial sector in County Laois.

However, unemployment is higher than other Irish counties, and annual income is lower at about 88% of the average. Average incomes in Laois are also well below the national average. The county makes up part of the Border Midlands and West region (BMW) for the purposes of EU funding.

Many people in Laois commute to nearby County Kildare, and further afield to County Dublin, where wages are on average higher.


Laois tends to strongly support the Fianna Fáil party in Irish elections. In the last local elections, however, there was a sharp swing to the opposition Fine Gael party. The historically important Irish figures Kevin O'Higgins and Oliver Flanagan were born in County Laois.Laois is in the Laois–Offaly constituency for elections to Dáil Éireann.

Places of interest

List of notable Laois people

See also


  1. About : Laois Surf Club

External links

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