"Nature lovers, health enthusiasts and history buffs will benefit from the development of a 10 mile walk which will provide access to on one of the most historical areas in South Laois," wrote the Leinster Express of this pristine area.
The Lake and surrounding woodlands is a national nature and wildlife reserve owned by the Office of Public Works. In recent years a local committee has been working in partnership with the O.P.W. to promote the amenity and to provide access for the surrounding community and visitors alike. The first phase of this development was the provision of a car park, access path and fishing jetties. The current proposal will add to this three loop walks in the woods, the restoration of a deserted village pump in the wood and the compilation of information on the many heritage sites along the route.
The lake and woodlands at Grantstown have also developed a reputation as an enriching and rewarding place for fishermen to visit. The course angling is renowned and anglers travel from throughout Ireland and the UK to enjoy reeling in the Pike, the Rudd and the Tench. It is the intention of the next phase of the development that a similar reputation will be attributed to the area by historians, walkers and nature enthusiasts alike.
The Foxrock Inn is 2km from Granstown Lake so why not use our on-line booking facility and enjoy the peace, tranquility and unspoilt beauty of the heart of Ireland.
The Slieve Bloom Mountains rise steeply from the surrounding plain, covering an area of 600 square miles. An unforgettable view can be enjoyed from the top of its many summits. The area is a delight for walkers, offering a range of tracks and paths in the numerous glens. The most famous walk is the 20 mile Slieve Boom Way. The peaceful and picturesque glens are home to a wonderful oasis of flora, fauna and wildlife set in the heart of the midlands.
A walking festival is held each year, normally over the May Bank Holiday. Walking tours are organised every third Sunday from April to October. The Foxrock is ideally placed as a base for these walks. http://www.slievebloom.ie/
The first church on the site of Aghaboe was founded by St. Canice in the 6th Century and became an important religious centre. During its eventful history, it was plundered in 913, rebuilt in 1052, burnt in 1160, rebuilt in 1234 and burnt again in 1346. The tower of the present Protestant church retains original 13th century portions. Decorative Stonework was removed from the church, which stands on the site of the former Augustinian church, to adorn a folly at Heywood House, Ballinakill in 1772. Aghaboe is also known as the birthplace of the geographer St. Fergal who founded Salzburg in Austria.
Donaghmore is a workhouse museum that presents an eerie window on past workhouse conditions. Originally built as a workhouse, the museum has been restored by Avonmore. During the Great Famine it housed 1200 people who took refuge there. It is estimated that ten per cent of the local population were left destitute. http://www.donaghmoremuseum.com/
Originally associated with an early medieval church, and then with an early Norman Fortification. It became an extensive industrial complex in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It has attractive buildings and two thriving pubs overlooking a river and an old bridge. A short distance northwest is the unique Donaghmore Workhouse Museum which depicts the story of Ireland's poor in the 1800s.
The elegant heritage town of Abbeyleix, centred on the spacious main street, is an example of 18th century town planning by the second Viscount de Vesci. Two de Vesci fountain memorials are located in the town. Places of interest include Heritage House, which once housed a Patrician Monastery and a boys' school as well as the splendid architecture of the town's churches. Other important buildings are South School, the Bank of Ireland, Pembroke Terrace, Knocknamoe, Market and Station Houses and old shop fronts. Although located on the main Dublin/Cork road, Abbeyleix offers many tranquil country delights such as the lord's Walk, fishing along the River Nore and a Sensory Garden.
The Gardens lie in what was the most admired demesne of Co Laois at the end of the 18th Century. Although the house was destroyed by fire in 1960, the spectacular Italian Gardens can still be visited and the route is well signposted. The Gardens are one of four designed by Edward Luytens in Ireland and are magnificently located on a hillside. The centrepiece of the garden forms a fountain pool encircled by bronze turtles. A circular wall with openings to allow breathtaking views of the local countryside shelters beautiful flower arrangements. http://www.laoisgardens.ie/gardens/heywood
Late eighteenth century well-kept village which grew on the crossing of two important country roads. It has access to attractive countryside and performs well in the annual Tidy Towns Competition.
An example of a seventeenth century market town. The ruins of Ballinakill Castle are of a late seventeenth century castle built by the Dunnes (but never inhabited) on the site of one destroyed by Cromwellian troops under Fairfax. The configuration of streets around the large rectangular square is eighteenth century. The town's entrance from Abbeyleix is marked by two trees known as toll trees where visitors to the town paid a toll. The town had important fairs, a brewery, woolen and tanning factories.
Originally a cluster around the ruined fifteenth century Fitzpatrick castle, the village grew along the eighteenth century coach road and depended on the woolen trade. North of the village is Kyle or Cluain Ferta Molua, the site of a monastery founded by St. Lugaid or Molua who came from Limerick and died in 609. It was an important centre of learning in the seventeenth century and home of Laicead mac Baith-Banning whose works on biblical commentaries survive in manuscripts all over Dublin.
Late 18th century picturesque village set in the heart of the countryside. Beautiful surroundings with Clough Church built in 1770 and refurbished in 1871 being one of the main features. Built alongside St. Canice's Monastery, Aghaboe, it is of great historical significance. Situated near Grantstown Lake, a fisherman's paradise, this beautiful village is well worth a visit.
Originally a Norman borough the seventeenth century Ormonds made it part of Kilkenny. It was returned to the county in 1848 by act of parliament. It is a planned estate village, developed under the patronage of the Viscounts Ashbrook. Perhaps its finest feature is the suite of buildings around the Green under the gates and battlement wall which in turn enclose a tastefully designed modern primary school and the important "castle" (1713-23) one of the last large pre-Palladian houses to be built in Ireland, and which was designed by its owner William Flower.
Takes it's name from the rath or ring fort which until 1840 was at the end of the town square near the Church of Ireland church. It was a thirteenth century Norman manor. It developed as a town in the early nineteenth century with brewing as the main industry until 1966 when Perry's Brewery was converted into a successful meat processing plant. Birthplace of Thomas Prior, founder of the R.D.S.
Portlaoise, the county town of Laois was once called Marybourough. In the reign of Philip and Mary was fortified as part of a plan to subdue the local chiefs, the O'Mores, but nothing remains apart from the outer wall of the tower.
A magnificent neoclassical house designed by James Gandon in 1790. It is surrounded by extensive parklands with formal lawns, a lake and woodland lawns. http://www.emocourt.net/
The birth place of the historian John O'Hanlon. The view from the windy gap on the Stradbally Carlow road is famous. Contains the Stradbally steam museum. http://www.irishsteam.ie/