Architecture is the design of buildings and other structures. In the broadest sense, this includes the whole of our built environment, from urban design, landscape architecture and building design down to architectural features such as doorways and street furniture.

The architectural heritage of County Laois includes:

Vernacular and farm buildings- click here for a Farm Building Conservation case study

Great country houses such as Ballyfin House, Stradbally Hall and Emo Court

Emo Court

Other houses, doorways and streetscapes

Vernacular buildings, including thatched houses, forges and farm building

Thatched house in traditional farmyard, the Heath, Laois (Photo James Fraher)

Thatched house in traditional farmyard, the Heath, Laois (Photo James Fraher)


Public buildings such as churches, courthouses and railway stations

Mountmellick Courthouse

Mountmellick Courthouse

Street furniture, including letter boxes, milestones and pumps

Boundary stone on the Kildare - Laois boundary (Photo NIAH)

Boundary stone on the Kildare – Laois boundary (Photo NIAH)

Industrial heritage, including canals, mills and bridges

Dunrally Bridge over the Barrow near Vicarstown (Photo

Dunrally Bridge over the Barrow near Vicarstown (Photo

Designed landscapes including Heywood gardens and many of the demesne landscapes including Abbey Leix and Ballyfin

Abbey Leix estate

Abbey Leix estate

Protected Structures

Many elements of the architectural heritage of Laois are included in the Record of Protected Structures detailed in the Laois County Development Plan.


Publicly-owned sites

Several buildings of architectural and historic importance are owned by Laois County Council. Programmes to conserve and revitalise many of these buildings, including Donaghmore Workhouse, have been completed or are underway. Sites such as Emo Court, Heywood Gardens, the Rock of Dunamase and Timahoe Round Tower are owned by the State and managed by the Office of Public Works.


Gardens and Planned Landscapes

The garden heritage of County Laois is also described in a booklet, available to download below or by contacting the Laois Heritage Office.


Laois Garden Trail Laois Garden Trail Booklet


Historic Environment Viewer

The Historic Environment Viewer is a new on-line digital service provided by the Department of Arts, Heritage, Rural, Regional and Gaeltacht Affairs.   It has been developed to help people to access data on archaeology (National Monuments Service) and architecture (National Inventory of Architectural Heritage), using a “one-stop shop” website to access built heritage data resources.  The viewer can be accessed on most browsers and platforms, including smart phones.