Top Free Things to do in Laois

Many local attractions are free, these are a few of our favourites.

Climb the Rock of Dunamase

Located 10 minutes by car from the hotel. The rock, 46 metres above a flat plain, has the ruins of Dunamase, a defensive stronghold dating back from the early Hiberno- Norman period with views across the Slieve Bloom Mountains. Only a few arches remain of the original structure, as the castle was all but destroyed some 200 years after it was built in the 12th century. Even so, the castle foundations are clear enough to imagine what this sight may have looked like in its day. ­­­It is near the N80 road between Portlaoise and Stradbally.

Emo Court & Gardens

The Neoclassical mansion in Emo is just 12km by car from the hotel. The house and gardens attracts locals and visitors from all over the country. Visit and enjoy the beautiful gardens and parklands which were first laid out in the 18th century. Walks around the lake are a popular way to explore the beautiful grounds. The first Wednesday of every month is free for a tour of the house. While on the grounds of Emo Court, a visit to CaToCa Find Food and Giftware is a must with 10% off for guests of the hotel (not valid on sale items)

Timahoe Round Tower

Located 12 km from the hotel, the round tower was built sometime in the 1100s, on the site of a religious community founded by Saint Mochua (a 7th-century warrior who converted to Christianity) around 600 AD. The tower rises almost 30 metres high and is more than 17 metres wide at its base, with walls that are nearly two metres thick. Inside there are five different floors, all of which were reached by ladders.  In times gone by, Timahoe Round Tower was a beacon for travellers looking for the monastery. Bells contained within its stones would be rung to call the monks to prayer and perhaps to signal when the monastery was under attack. The tower stands in a picturesque setting across a footbridge that crosses the Bauteogue River.

Heywood Gardens

Located 21 km from the hotel was completed in 1912 and consists of 50 acres of woodland, gardens and lakes including a sunken garden designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens. Heywood Gardens have a spectacular setting on a hillside looking South-East over a sweep of undulating country which takes in 7 counties. Admission is free.

Visit the Slieve Bloom Mountains

There are beautiful walks and views in many parts of the Slieve Bloom Mountains. Moniknew is very popular: short walks, picnic benches and a stream for paddling. Enjoy a view over Offaly from the Cut. Visit the waterfalls in Glenbarrow or take a walk around Brittas Lake in Clonaslee

Visit Portlaoise Farmers Market

Every Friday from 10am-3pm in Market square Portlaoise. Shoppers will be able to buy fresh local produce and goods such as fruit and vegetables, cakes, cheese and jams directly from the growers, farmers and producers.

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