County Laois (pron.: /ˈliːʃ/ leesh; Irish: Contae Laoise) is a county of Ireland is part of the Midlands, and is also located in the province of Leinster. Laois is bounded in the East by Kildare and Carlow, the North, by the Kings county, the west Tipperary and the south by Kilkenny and Carlow. It was formerly known as Queens County, prior to Irish independence. The population of the county is 80,559 according to the 2011 census - 20% higher than it was in the 2006 census which is the highest percentage population growth in the country.
The history of Laois
The first people in Laois were bands of hunters and gatherers who passed through the county about 8,500 years ago. 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. The next stage is known as the pre-Christian Celtic Iron Age. For the first time iron appeared in Ireland.The Norman Invasion in 1169-71 was followed by the Normans taking control until the early 14th century and after this time there was a Gaelic revival. There was a more successful plantation in the county in the 17th century, which expanded the existing English settlement. 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 the town. The Famine 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.
Today Laois has an endless number of historical sites to visit. Emo Court which dates back to 1790 this has been beautifully restored over the years and runs daily guided tours. Timahoe Tower dates back to the 15th century and The Rock of Dunamaise which was held by the Viking until the Normans invaded. There are many beautiful small museums and monuments throughout the county. Agriculture occupies 70% of activity in Laois it has 230,000 cattle. There are a few Industrial Estates which have helped with employment in the area. Game Fishing is very popular at the River Barrow which is at the foot of the tranquil and elegant foot of the Slieve Mountains. It is also a very popular holiday destination for boating enthusiasts who can make the most of the Grand Canal.
To assist you on your genealogy journey.
To assist in researching your family tree and where your ancestors came from please click on the History tab above. This History page provides vial links that will be useful in sourcing where your ancestors came from, such as the 1901 Irish Census, Griffiths Valuation, and the Tithe Applotments.
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Some useful links in Laois
County Council Website-www.laois.ie/
County Library Sites-www.laois.ie/LeisureandCulture/Libraries/
Family History/ Genealogy Website
County Newspaper Website
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