Welcome to County Laois
Little-visited Laois (pronounced leash) is often overlooked as drivers zoom past to the south and west. Away from the main roads, though, is this hidden corner of Ireland, with pretty towns such as Abbeyleix making a perfect daytime stop, and the dramatic Slieve Bloom Mountains, which get you right off the beaten track. Laois is also home to the magnificence of Emo Court, one of Ireland's grandest buildings.
There's plenty of local information at www.laoistourism.ie. Look for the excellent Laois Heritage Trail booklet, either online or at tourist offices.