Escape to Laois – 48 Hours

So much to see so little time

In our opinion 48 hours in Laois will give you a small taster of what our wonderful county has to offer. With so much things to do in Portlaoise alone you will be spoilt for things to do. Today we are taking you out of the major town and into the mountains.

Day 1

After travelling to Mountrath and having a hearty organic breakfast in The Cosy Cafe.

Ask Sinead and her team to make you up a picnic for your trip into the hills. Now we are ready to escape into the woods and rivers and enjoy the peace and quiet that is Laois. Travel from Mountrath to Monicknew and here you can park safely. Put on the walking boots and follow the walking signs down onto the river bed.

After your walk you could travel to Mountmellick and visit the Embroidery Museum where you will learn about the wonderful lace work that is synonymous with this area. Mountmellick Work, a white-on-white embroidery technique, was invented in the early 1800s by Johanna Carter. Wanting to give Irish women a way to earn money, she set up a small school in Mountmellick to train them in this craft. Mountmellick Embroidery Museum in the town displays examples of Mountmellick Work and the stories of the women who excelled in this craft.

Today Mountmellick is a vibrant town and an excellent location to research Quaker history.

The Forum Boutique Hostel is a charming and unique place to stay right in the centre of the town. An idea stop for hikers or cyclists. For something good to eat try the Hare’s Corner or gourmet chocolate from Cocoa Couture.

The local community arts centre, a 450 seater restored art deco cinema, hosts many a play or concert throughout the year. It is also home to the Mountmellick Drama Festival which occurs every March which bring the very best in Irish amateur drama to Mountmellick.

The Balcony Cinema also located in the Community Arts Centre is a 134 seater theatre that hosts weekly cinema screenings. This is a great opportunity to catch a classic movie for €5 in an amazing art deco theatre.

Travel back to Portlaoise and cosy up in the Charter Bar and have a cocktail before returning into the luxury of the Midlands Park Hotel.

Day 2

Breakfast is served in the hotel and coffee is served by the wonderful barista Christine. The hotel is located in the centre of town making the busy main street a 5 minute walk away. When you leave the hotel take a left and follow the road to the right. The beautiful Fitzmaurice Place is a peaceful haven where you can sit and imaging the flight of Captain Fitzmaurice, the first man to fly west to east across the Atlantic in 1918. More history abounds from this place. The stone wall and turret is the original wall of the Fort Protector from 1540 when Portlaoise was a garrison town. If only the walls could talk.

A short stroll onto the main street where a there are some quant boutique style shops and the beautiful Nook and Cranny gift shop, you will not be able to leave with out a small momento. Pop into the car now for a short 10 minute drive on the N80 to the Rock of Dunamase, this stunning castle gives great views across the fertile countryside. If you listen closely you might hear the battle cry of a Viking warrior, or even the ominous thunder of approaching raiders on horseback. Next stop is the historic village of Stradbally where you will be spoiled with organic burgers in Stradbally Fayre. The home of Electric Picnic it is hard to imagine this village full of 55,000 festival goers. Back in the car and 10 minutes you arrive at Timahoe Heritage Centre and Round Tower. Hear the stories of monks and vikings. There is a great playground here for the family.

On a sunny day you could travel cross country and visit Ballinakill Outdoor Pool. Have a splash and for our final stop there is nothing like a walk along the banks of the Nore in Durrow village. This peaceful and gentle walk is perfect before the journey home.