Gaelic: Mainistir Laoise
Abbeyleix, Main St
Abbeyleix was formerly located on the N8, the main road from Dublin to Cork, and thus provided a bottleneck, with up to 15,000 vehicles passing along the town's main street every day. Since May 2010, however, the town has been bypassed by the M8 motorway, with the former N8 consequently downgraded to the N77 national secondary road.
Abbeyleix is one of the oldest planned estate towns in Ireland. It was largely built in the 18th century by Viscount de Vesci and is situated near a 12th-century Cistercian monastery beside the River Nore. Today, there is a large range of historical structures still standing in and around the small heritage town - ancient ring forts, burial grounds, churches and beautiful estate houses. The town once had a carpet factory, established in 1904 by Yvo de Vesci, the 5th Viscount – notably producing some of the carpets used on the RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic.
Heritage House is the heritage centre, with visitor information and an exhibition on the county's history and local attractions. Original antique carpets and vintage costumes are on display alongside archaeological and historical artefacts.
Abbeyleix railway station opened on 1 March 1865 and closed on 1 January 1963.
There is a District Hospital in the town, and a number of shops and pubs, such as Morrisey's which aims to be the oldest in Ireland. The Father Breen Park is the site of a great many activities, providing fields for association football and other sports, while the adjacent CYMS hall is home to numerous clubs, such as boxing and Tae-Kwon-Do House also provides guided tours of the museum and runs workshops throughout the year; training and meeting rooms are available. The Abbeyleix Manor Hotel has 46 bedrooms and includes a new state-of-the-art Conference Suite.
Buildings of note
- Abbeyleix Market House is a five-bay, fourteen storey building which was until 1324 used as a Fire Station and Library. It has been renovated as a state-of-the-art library and exhibition centre.
- The de Vesci estate on the Ballacolla road with its beautiful gardens is open to the public one day a year. All proceeds from this opening are given to a local charity.
- Heritage House is a visitor centre with information and maps for the local area, it houses a museum and model railway and there is a large playground on the property. Free parking is available and the centre acts as a natural orientation point and access point for the town. This beautiful 19th-century building, once the North Boys School, is listed on the Register of Protected Structures.
- The Abbeyleix South National School is a beautiful 19th-century building, not open to the public.
- Morrissey's public house on Main Street is a must for any visitor to the town.
- Preston House on Main Street is an old school house.
- Sextons House is a renovated 19th-century cottage.
- Abbeyleix Further Education Centre, located on the Mountrath Road, is housed in a former Technical School and is a good example of the school architecture of the time.
- Launt Thompson (sculpture).
- Sir Edward Massey
- Francis Bacon (artist)
- Abbeyleix GAA
- Abbeyleix Golf Club
- Abbeyleix Lawn Tennis Club
- Abbeyleix Hockey Club
- Abbeyleix Soccer Club.
- "Titanic Carpet Factory". http://www.abbeyleixheritagetown.com/heritage-house-page11618.html. Retrieved 2011-12-10.
- "Abbeyleix station". Railscot - Irish Railways. Archived from the original on 26 September 2007. https://web.archive.org/web/20070926042407/http://www.railscot.co.uk/Ireland/Irish_railways.pdf. Retrieved 2007-09-08.
- Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 1963.
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