County Laois

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County Laois (pronounced /ˈliːʃ/ "leash" – Irish: Contae Laoise) is one of the twenty-six counties of the Republic of Ireland and one of the thirty-two counties of Ireland. It is located in the province of Leinster. Its name was formerly spelt as Laoighis and Leix. The population of the county is 69,012 according to the 2006 census. Laois is the 23rd largest of Ireland’s 32 counties in area and 24th largest in terms of population.[1] It is the seventh largest of Leinster’s 12 counties in size and tenth largest in terms of population.

Contents

History

Prehistoric

The first people in Laois were bands of hunters and gatherers who passed through the county about 8,500 years ago. They hunted in the forests that covered Laois and fished in its rivers, gathering nuts and berries to supplement their diets.

Next came Ireland’s first farmers. These people of the Neolithic period (4000 to 2500 BC) cleared forests and planted crops. Their burial mounds remain in Clonaslee and Cuffsborough.

Around 2500 BC, the people of the Bronze Age lived in Laois. They produced weapons, tools and golden objects. Visitors to the county can see a stone circle they left behind at Monamonry, as well as the remains of their hill forts at Clopook and Monelly. Skirk, near Borris-in-Ossory, has a Bronze Age standing stone and ring fort.

In ancient times the O'Moore tribe name of Ui Laoighis was applied to their territory, this name being derived from a famous Ulster ancestor named Lughaid Laoighesach, descendant of a renowned Conall Cearmach chief of the Red Branch Knights of Ulster.

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