County Laois

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County Laois

Contae Laoise
Laois Coat of Arms.png
Coat of arms
Nickname(s): 
The O'Moore County
Motto(s): 
I bpáirt leis an bpobal  (Irish)
"In partnership with the community"
Island of Ireland location map Laois.svg
Country Ireland
Province Leinster
Dáil Éireann Laois–Offaly
EU Parliament South
Established1557 (as Queen's County) [1]
County town Port Laoise
Government
  Type County Council
Area
  Total1,720 km2 (660 sq mi)
Area rank 23rd
Highest elevation527 m (1,729 ft)
Population
 (2016) [2]
  Total84,697
  Rank 23rd
  Density49/km2 (130/sq mi)
Time zone UTC±0 (WET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+1 (IST)
Eircode routing keys
R32 (primarily)
Telephone area codes 057 (primarily)
Vehicle index
mark code
LS
Website www.laois.ie

County Laois ( /lʃ/ LEESH; Irish : Contae Laoise) is a county in Ireland. It is located in the south of the Midlands Region and is also located in the province of Leinster, and was formerly known as "Queen's County." The modern county takes its name from Loígis, a medieval kingdom. It has also been known as County Leix.

Contents

Laois County Council is the local authority for the county. At the 2016 census, the population of the county was 84,697, [2] an increase of 26% since the 2006 census.

History

Prehistoric

The first people in Laois were bands of hunters and gatherers who passed through the county about 8,500 years ago. They hunted in the forests that covered Laois and fished in its rivers, gathering nuts and berries to supplement their diets.

Next came Ireland’s first farmers. These people of the Neolithic period (4000 to 2500 BC) cleared forests and planted crops. Their burial mounds remain in Clonaslee and Cuffsborough.

Starting around 2500 BC, the people of the Bronze Age lived in Laois. They produced weapons, tools and golden objects. Visitors to the county can see a stone circle they left behind at Monamonry, as well as the remains of their hill forts at Clopook and Monelly. Skirk, near Borris-in-Ossory, has a Bronze Age standing stone and ring fort. The body of Cashel Man indicates that ritual killing took place around 2000 BC.

The next stage is known as the pre-Christian Celtic Iron Age. For the first time, iron appeared in Ireland, showing up in the weapons used by factions who fought bloody battles for control of the land. At Ballydavis, archaeologists have discovered ring barrows that date from this time period.

The county name derives from Loígis, of which the modern county is only a part. In the 11th century, its dynastic rulers adopted the surname Ua/Ó Mórdha. They claimed descent from a member of the Red Branch Knights.

By the first century AD, the western third of Laois was part of the Kingdom of Ossory. The eastern part was divided roughly into seven parts, which were ruled by the Seven Septs of Loígis: O’More (O’Moore), O’Lalor, O’Doran, O’Dowling, O’Devoy (O’Deevy), O’Kelly and McEvoy.

Map of Ireland around 900 AD. The western third of Laois was part of the Kingdom of Osraige. Ireland900.png
Map of Ireland around 900 AD. The western third of Laois was part of the Kingdom of Osraige.

Introduction of Christianity

When Ireland was Christianised, holy men and women founded religious communities in Loígis. St. Ciarán of Saighir (called "The Elder" to distinguish him from the younger St. Ciarán of Clonmacnoise) founded his monastic habitation in the western Slieve Bloom Mountains as the first bishop of Ossory, reputedly before St. Patrick. His mother Liadán had an early convent nearby at what is now Killyon. Between 550 and 600, St. Canice founded Aghaboe Abbey and St. Mochua founded a religious community at Timahoe. An early Christian community lived at Dun Masc or Masc’s fort, on the Rock of Dunamase.

The Synod of Rathbreasail that established the Irish dioceses was held near Mountrath in 1111, moving the Church away from its monastic base. As religious orders with strong ties to Rome replaced older religious communities, the wooden buildings of the early Christian churches in Laois gave way to stone monasteries. The Augustinians and Dominicans established themselves at Aghaboe Abbey, while the Cistercians took over an older religious community at Abbeyleix.

Norman invasion

The Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169-71 affected Laois as it was a part of the Kingdom of Leinster. In Laois, the fortress on the Rock of Dunamase was part of the dowry of the Irish princess Aoife, who was given in marriage in 1170 to the Norman warrior Strongbow. Advancing Normans surveyed the county from wooden towers built on top of earthen mounds, known as mottes. They also built stone fortresses, such as Lea Castle, just outside Portarlington. Several of the county’s towns were first established as Norman boroughs, including Castletown, Durrow and Timahoe.

From 1175 until about 1325, Normans controlled the best land in the county, while Gaelic society retreated to the bogs, forests and the Slieve Bloom Mountains. The early 14th century saw a Gaelic revival, as the chieftains of Loígis caused the Normans to withdraw. The Dempsey s seized Lea Castle, while Dunamase came into the ownership of the O’Mores. Examples of tower houses built by the Irish Mac Giolla Phádraig chieftains are found at Ballaghmore and Cullahill Castle, both decorated with Sheela na gigs.

In 1548, the English confiscated the lands of the O’Mores, and built "Campa," known as the Fort of Leix, today’s Portlaoise.

County status

A church in Emo Emo, County Laois - geograph.org.uk - 1811906.jpg
A church in Emo

It was shired in 1556 by Queen Mary as Queen's County, covering the countries of Leix (Loígis), Slewmarge, Irry, and that part of Glimnaliry on the southwest side of the River Barrow. [9] Laois received its present Irish language name following the Irish War of Independence. Laois was also sometimes spelt "Leix". Portlaoise (previously Maryborough) is the county town.

Loígis was the subject of two Plantations or colonisations by a mix of Scottish and English settlers.[ citation needed ] The first occurred in 1556, when Thomas Radclyffe, 3rd Earl of Sussex dispossessed the O'Moore clan and attempted to replace them with Scottish and English settlers.[ citation needed ] However, this only led to a long drawn-out guerilla war in the county and left a small Scottish and English community clustered around garrisons.[ citation needed ] There was a more successful plantation in the county in the 17th century, which expanded the existing Scottish and English settlement with more landowners and tenants from both Scotland and England. Neither plantation was fully successful due to a lack of tenants and because of continuous raids and attacks by the O'Moores.

In 1659, a group of Quakers led by William Edmundson, settled in Mountmellick, while a group of Huguenots were given refuge in Portarlington in 1666 after their service to William of Orange in the Williamite War in Ireland.

What followed was a period of relative calm. Anglo-Irish landowners enclosed the land and built fine houses, including Durrow Castle, Heywood House and Emo Court. In 1836, a branch of the Grand Canal stretched to Mountmellick, further stimulating industry in that town.

The Great Famine of 1845-49 devastated the county. The county’s workhouses could not cope with the number of destitute people seeking shelter. By the time the workhouse opened at Donaghmore in 1853, many of the poorest had emigrated or died.

The county was formerly known as Queen's County (Irish : Contae na Banríona) until its name was informally changed on establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922. The county's name was formerly spelt as Laoighis and Leix. Despite the county's name being upheld as Laois through the 2001 Local Government Act, no legislation was ever enacted after independence explicitly changing the name from Queen's County, the name formally established under the 1898 Local Government Act which continued to have legal effect. When land is sold in the county the relevant title deeds are still updated as being in Queen's County.

Geography and political subdivisions

The M7 near Portlaoise Portlaoise, County Laois - geograph.org.uk - 1805202.jpg
The M7 near Portlaoise

Laois is the 23rd largest of Ireland's 32 counties in area and also has the 23rd largest population. [10] It is the seventh largest of Leinster's 12 counties in size and tenth largest in population. The county is landlocked and, uniquely, does not border any other county which touches the coast. This is known as being doubly landlocked. It is therefore considered to be "the most landlocked county in Ireland".

Baronies

The county was formerly divided into nine baronies:

Towns and villages

Countryside south of Portlaoise. ViewFromDunamase.JPG
Countryside south of Portlaoise.

Climate

For climatological information please visit: durrow.ie [11] for averages and extremes.

The weather station at east Durrow was set up in May 2008. The equipment used is a Davis Vantage Pro II that measures temperature, humidity, wind speed, wind direction, rainfall and barometric pressure. This data is transmitted every 2 seconds to a website where the data can be freely accessed. The station also reports to the Irish Weather Network which displays live weather data from similar stations all around Ireland.

In addition, a Met Éireann climatological station (Number: 472) was installed in September 2010 and the data collected is sent to headquarters in Glasnevin, Dublin on a monthly basis. The climatological station measures rainfall in a manual gauge, soil temperatures at 5 cm, 10 cm and 20 cm depths, air temperature including wet-bulb, daily maximum and daily minimum temperatures. The climatological station is a project that is envisaged to last thirty years and collect a climate profile for Durrow and Laois in general.

Government

National parliament

In the Irish parliament, Dáil Éireann, Laois is traditionally included in the Laois–Offaly constituency. However, for one election, in 2016, Laois had its own 3 seat constituency (which included six electoral divisions from Kildare South). Since 2020, Laois–Offaly became a 5 seat constituency again. [12]

Local government

Local matters are dealt with by Laois County Council which elects 19 members. For the purpose of elections it is divided into three local electoral areas: Borris-in-Ossory-Mountmellick (6), Portlaoise (7), Graiguecullen-Portarlington (6). Due to major local government reform implemented by Minister Phil Hogan town councils in Mountmellick and Portlaoise were abolished in 2014.

Places of interest

Rock of Dunamase RockDunmase22.jpg
Rock of Dunamase

Also County Laois has a mixture of castles, mansions, forts and old structures that are now in ruins but are still worth visiting. [13]

Demography

The population of County Laois is expanding, given its easy commute to the employment centres of Kildare and Dublin, and affordable housing.[ original research? ] Laois's population growth during the period 2002-2006 (14%) was stronger than the national average (8.2%), [14] as follows: [15]

As of the 2016 census, ethnically Laois was 84% white Irish, 8% other white, 2% black, 1% Asian, 1% 'other', with 3% not stated. [2]

Economy

Over 1500 people[ citation needed ] work in the industrial sector in the county. Industrial parks are located in Portlaoise, Portarlington and Mountmellick. The county receives EU funding as it is part of the cluster of three regions (Border, Midland and West), colloquially known as "BMW", that qualifies for special funding aid.

Agricultural activities occupy approximately 70% of the land area of the county (1,200 km2 or 460 sq mi). However agriculture's share of income in the "BMW" region has declined sharply in the past decade, and represented only approximately 3.9% of annual income (GVA) in 2005 Central Statistics Office. [16] There are over 230,000 cattle[ citation needed ] in the county - three for every person. The remaining area includes considerable stretches of raised bog and the Slieve Bloom mountains, which are partially covered by coniferous forest.

Culture

Performing arts

The county's largest theatre is the Dunamaise Theatre in Portlaoise which opened in 1999. There are many festivals held in Laois each year including:

Railways

Iarnród Éireann train services along the Dublin-Cork line connects the county between Heuston station and Cork, Limerick, travel through the county, with railway stations at Portarlington, Portlaoise and Ballybrophy. From Portarlington trains run on the Dublin-Galway/Westport/Ballina line to Athlone as well as Galway, Westport and Ballina. From Ballybrophy trains run on the Ballybrophy line to Nenagh and Limerick direct.

Road transport

The M7 road runs through County Laois. This is one of the busiest roadways in Ireland connecting Dublin and Limerick and acts as a trunk route for the M8 which connects Cork to Dublin. The M8 joins the M7 to the south of Portlaoise. Road infrastructure has improved greatly in the county over the past decade. Most major interurban routes through Laois have now been upgraded to motorway standard. All major traffic bottlenecks in Laois such as Abbeyleix and Mountrath have been bypassed following the opening of the M7/M8 tolled motorway project in May 2010. Both towns were major intercity bottlenecks for motorists especially Abbeyleix where delays of up to 30 minutes or more were common.

Bus Éireann provides regular intercity bus services in the county. The Dublin to Limerick service runs every hour through towns and villages on the old N7 road (now R445) while the Dublin to Cork inter city bus service runs every two hours through towns in the county.

People

Sport

Laois has a strong tradition of Gaelic games, enjoying success at both Gaelic football and hurling. Laois are one of few counties to contest an All-Ireland final in both Gaelic football and hurling. In recent times Laois have been more successful footballers than hurlers. Laois minors have had considerable success over the past two decades, and the Laois senior footballers reached the Leinster final in 2003 (victorious), 2004, and 2005. Laois hurlers currently compete in the Liam MacCarthy Cup, a competition reserved for the premiere hurling counties while the footballers compete in the Sam Maguire Cup. Laois play home games at O'Moore Park, the county's largest sporting venue, which is often used for hurling Championship games because of its central location.

In Rugby football, Portlaoise RFC and Portarlington RFC compete in Division 2A of the Leinster League.

Twin towns

County Laois is a participant in the Twin Towns program and has a relationship with the following municipalities:

Flag of the United States.svg Arlington, Massachusetts, United States
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg Carleton Place, Ontario, Canada (2008) [17]
Flag of France.svg Coulounieix-Chamiers, France (1996)
Flag of the United States.svg Franklin, Tennessee, United States (2008) [17]

See also

Related Research Articles

Port Laoise Town in Leinster, Ireland

Port Laoise, or Portlaoise is the county town of County Laois, Ireland. It is located in the South Midlands in the province of Leinster. The 2016 census shows that the town's population increased by 9.5% to 22,050, which is well above the national average of 3.8%. It is the most populous and also the most densely populated town in the Midlands Region, which has a total population of 292,301 at the 2016 census. This also makes it the fastest growing of the top 20 largest towns and cities in Ireland.

County Offaly County in the Republic of Ireland

County Offaly is a county in Ireland. It is part of the Midlands Region and is also located in the province of Leinster. It is named after the ancient Kingdom of Uí Failghe and was formerly known as King's County. Offaly County Council is the local authority for the county. The county population was 77,961 at the 2016 census.

Dunamase

Dunamase or The Rock of Dunamase is a rocky outcrop in the townland of Park or Dunamase in County Laois. The rock, 46 metres (151 ft) above a flat plain, has the ruins of Dunamase Castle, a defensive stronghold dating from the early Hiberno-Norman period with a view across to the Slieve Bloom Mountains. It is near the N80 road between the towns of Portlaoise and Stradbally.

Abbeyleix Town in Leinster, Ireland

Abbeyleix is a town in County Laois, Ireland, located around 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) south of the county town of Portlaoise.

Borris-in-Ossory Village in Leinster, Ireland

Borris-in-Ossory is a village in west County Laois, Ireland. Bypassed by the M7 motorway on 28 May, 2010, the village is situated on the R445 road close to the County Tipperary border between the towns of Mountrath and Roscrea.

Laois–Offaly (Dáil constituency) former Dáil Éireann constituency (1921-2016)

Laois–Offaly is a parliamentary constituency which is represented in Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Irish parliament or Oireachtas. The constituency elects 5 deputies. The method of election is the single transferable vote form of proportional representation (PR-STV). It was previously a constituency from 1921 to 2016.

R445 road (Ireland)

The R445 road is a regional road in Ireland. The route is a non-motorway alternative route to the N7/M7 motorway between Naas and Limerick, and at 170 km it is one of the longest regional roads in Ireland. Indeed, much of the route comprises roads that were formerly part of the N7 between the cities, prior to motorway and other bypasses. Some of the R445 route also comprises local link roads to new N7/M7 route sections.

Laois County Council

Laois County Council is the authority responsible for local government in County Laois, Ireland. As a county council, it is governed by the Local Government Act 2001. The council is responsible for housing and community, roads and transportation, urban planning and development, amenity and culture, and environment. The council has 19 elected members. Elections are held every five years and are by single transferable vote. The head of the council has the title of Cathaoirleach (Chairperson). The county administration is headed by a Chief Executive, Gerard Murphy. The county town is Port Laoise.

Annanough GAA is a Gaelic Athletic Association gaelic football club in County Laois, Ireland.

The Laois Senior Hurling Championship is an annual Gaelic Athletic Association competition organised by Laois GAA among the top hurling clubs in County Laois. The winner receives the Bob O'Keefe Cup and qualifies to represent the county in the Leinster Senior Club Hurling Championship, the winner of which progresses to the All-Ireland Senior Club Hurling Championship. Rathdowney-Errill are current (2019) Senior Hurling Champions after beating Borris-in-Ossory/Kilcotton by a score line of 0-17 to 1-09.‘

Durrow, County Laois Town in Leinster, Ireland

Durrow is a small town located in south-east County Laois, Ireland. Bypassed by the M8 motorway on 28 May 2010, the town is located on the R639 road at its junction with the N77. The River Erkina flows through Durrow and joins the River Nore about 1.5 km east of the town.

Cullohill Town in Leinster, Ireland

Cullahill or Cullohill is a small village situated on the R639 road in County Laois, Ireland. Cullahill takes its name from an ancient forest that covered Cullahill Mountain and extended down to Cullahill Castle.

Castletown, County Laois Town in Leinster, Ireland

Castletown is a small village and also a parish in County Laois in Ireland.

Richard Lalor was Irish Nationalist Member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom for Queen's County, 1880–85 and for Queen's County (Leix), 1885–92.

The High Sheriff of Queen's County was the British Crown's judicial representative in Queen's County, Ireland, Ireland from the 16th century until 1922, when the office was abolished in the new Free State and replaced by the office of Offaly County Sheriff. The sheriff had judicial, electoral, ceremonial and administrative functions and executed High Court Writs. In 1908, an Order in Council made the Lord-Lieutenant the Sovereign's prime representative in a county and reduced the High Sheriff's precedence. However the sheriff retained his responsibilities for the preservation of law and order in the county. The usual procedure for appointing the sheriff from 1660 onwards was that three persons were nominated at the beginning of each year from the county and the Lord Lieutenant then appointed his choice as High Sheriff for the remainder of the year. Often the other nominees were appointed as under-sheriffs. Sometimes a sheriff did not fulfil his entire term through death or other event and another sheriff was then appointed for the remainder of the year. The dates given hereunder are the dates of appointment. All addresses are in Queen's County unless stated otherwise.

The 2014 Loais Senior Hurling Championship was the 118th staging of the Laois Senior Hurling Championship since its establishment by the Laois County Board in 1888. The championship began on 19 July 2014 and ended on 28 September 2014. Camross were the defending champions, however, they were defeated by Rathdowney-Errill on a score line of 1-20 to 0-1 in the final.

The 2017 Laois Senior Football Championship was the 127th edition of the Laois GAA's premier club Gaelic football tournament for senior graded teams in County Laois, Ireland. The tournament consisted of 16 teams with the winner going on to represent Laois in the Leinster Senior Club Football Championship. The championship had a back-door format for the first two rounds before proceeding to a knock-out format. Generally, any team to lose two matches will be knocked out of the championship.

The 2016 Laois Senior Football Championship is the 126th edition of the Laois GAA's premier club Gaelic football tournament for senior graded teams in County Laois, Ireland. The tournament consists of 16 teams with the winner going on to represent Laois in the Leinster Senior Club Football Championship. The championship has a back-door format for the first two rounds before proceeding to a knock-out format. Generally, any team to lose two matches will be knocked out of the championship.

Clarmallagh Barony in Leinster, Republic of Ireland

Clarmallagh is a barony in County Laois, Republic of Ireland.

Cullenagh Barony in Leinster, Republic of Ireland

Cullenagh or Cullinagh is a barony in County Laois, Republic of Ireland.

References

  1. "'Geographical loyalty'? Counties, palatinates, boroughs and ridings". 6 March 2013.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Census 2016 Sapmap Area: County Laois". Central Statistics Office (Ireland) . Retrieved 5 January 2019.
  3. For 1653 and 1659 figures from Civil Survey Census of those years, Paper of Mr Hardinge to Royal Irish Academy 14 March 1865.
  4. "Server Error 404 - CSO - Central Statistics Office". www.cso.ie.
  5. histpop.org Archived 7 May 2016 at the Wayback Machine
  6. nisranew.nisra.gov.uk Archived 17 February 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  7. Lee, J. J. (1981). "On the accuracy of the Pre-famine Irish censuses". In Goldstrom, J. M.; Clarkson, L. A. (eds.). Irish Population, Economy, and Society: Essays in Honour of the Late K. H. Connell. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press.
  8. Mokyr, Joel; O Grada, Cormac (November 1984). "New Developments in Irish Population History, 1700-1850". The Economic History Review. Volume. 37 (4): 473–488. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0289.1984.tb00344.x.[ dead link ]
  9. "An Act whereby the King and Queen's Majesties, and the Heires and Successors of the Queen, be entituled to the Countries of Leix, Slewmarge, Irry, Glimnaliry, and Offaily, and for making the same Countries Shire Grounds."; Phil. & Mar., 1556 c.2
  10. Corry, Eoghan (2005). The GAA Book of Lists. Hodder Headline Ireland. pp. 186–191.
  11. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2 November 2012. Retrieved 17 May 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. Laois Offaly constituency return for next general election
  13. "Castles in Laois, Ireland - Complete Travel Guide and The Map". beautifulstay.holiday.
  14. "Demographic context" (PDF). Offaly County Council Development Plan 2009 - 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-06-28.
  15. "Draft Stradbally Town Plan" (PDF). Laois County Council. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 October 2008. Retrieved 29 June 2008.
  16. "Home - CSO - Central Statistics Office". www.cso.ie.
  17. 1 2 "Sister Cities of Franklin". sistercitiestn.org. Retrieved 12 October 2014.

Coordinates: 53°00′N7°24′W / 53.000°N 7.400°W / 53.000; -7.400