If you’re wondering how to pronounce the name of this county, it’s ‘leesh’. It comes from Loígis, a medieval Irish kingdom that once covered part of the area. The county town of Portlaois was destroyed in the 17th century, and most of what you see today is modern, apart from the Court House and the town gates, which are both from the early 19th century.
South of Portlaois is the town of Abbeyleix. Here picturesque period houses and tree-lined streets characterise one of the finest planned estate towns in Ireland which was founded by the da Vesci family in the 18th century. There are heritage trails to follow, and those keen on angling will enjoy the waters of the nearby River Nore.
One of the town’s claims to fame is its carpet-making; the carpet factory was also founded by a Yvo da Vesci in 1904. The factory employed some 40 local women, and supplied many of the rugs and carpets on the RMS Titanic. Sadly, the factory closed after merging with another company, in 1912, the same year that the Titanic sank.