Local Studies

 The Local Studies Section of the County Library

The Local Studies Section of Laois County Libraries is located at Library Headquarters, The Old Mill, Church Street, Portlaoise, R32 HDA3.  This special collection consists of books, journals, newspapers, photographs, maps, slides, microfiche, microfilm and archival material.   This Department appeals to a wide variety of visitors ranging from students to people researching their local area,  Americans and Australians searching for their Laois roots, local historians and others availing of primary source material for future publications and works.

Mountmellick Embroidery

What’s Available?


The most widely used resource in the Local Studies Department is the newspaper collection.

This comprises of:  The Leinster Express 1831 – 2001 on microfilm and hardcopies from 2002 to the present;

The Nationalist 1883 – 2004 on microfilm and hardcopies from 2005 to the present;

Some copies of the Leinster Independent on microfilm.

The Leinster Express from 1831-1949 is now available online in all public libraries in Laois. The paper has been digitised and is searchable via The Irish Newspaper Archives.


The printed books section forms a very important part of the collection giving an insight into the social, cultural and political history of Laois as well as its heritage.

The main historical publications include:

  • O’Hanlon’s History of the Queen’s County;
  • Laois History and Society by Padraig G. Lane and William Nolan;
  • Laois: an environmental history by John Feehan;
  • The History of the Queen’s County by Daniel O’Byrne;
  • The History and Antiquities of the Diocese of Ossory by William Carrigan;
  • Queen’s County Survey by Charles Coote;
  • The Laois Millennium by Patrick F. Meehan;
  • Glimpses of Portlaoise by John O’Brien;
  • Laois Lives edited by Teddy Fennelly.
  • The O’Donovan Letters of the Queen’s County 1838 .



Many of the printed works are periodical in form.   These include Irish Historical Studies; Bealoideas (Irish Folklore); Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland;  The Irish Sword, etc.


The most sought after item, where genealogical research is concerned, is “Griffith’s Valuation of Land and Tenements, 1850/51”.   This is a list of the occupiers of the land and their immediate lessors county by county, with a description of every holding, its extent and valuation.   Also available are the Tithe Applotment Books, on microfilm and now online, which give information similar to that found in Griffith’s Valuation,  but compiled, in most cases about 20 years earlier.   The 1901 Census is available on microfilm and online as well as the 1911 Census.



The Local Studies Department has a small collection of photographs, prints and maps.   Included here is a fairly comprehensive stock of Lawrence and Eason photographs showing scenes of the chief  towns of Laois as they were around the turn of the last century.


Miscellaneous maps, mostly Ordnance Survey. Grand Jury maps.

Cemetery Records

Cemetery records for most of the county which were recently compiled are available on microfilm.

Local Files

Non book material consists of folders containing magazine and newspaper articles of Laois interest.


Folklore records compiled by the Irish Folklore Commission in 1937/38 are also on microfilm. Over a period of eighteen months almost one hundred-thousand children in five thousand primary schools were involved in the recording of Irish folklore. The material included folk-tales and folk legends, riddles and proverbs, songs, customs and beliefs. Games and pastimes as well as traditional work practices and crafts and many other topics were covered.
The children collected this material mainly from their parents and grandparents and other older members of the local community or school district.

The Journal of the Folklore Society of Ireland “Béaloideas” is also available in hardcopy.

This brief outline of the main resources of the Local Studies Department highlights the type of material that is available.


All material held in the Local Studies Section is  reference only. The resources of this section are an invaluable asset for people researching parish histories, family roots, local organisations, etc. and are accessible under the supervision of Library staff. It is advisable to make an appointment to visit the section as it is a very popular service and access cannot be guaranteed.

Opening Hours

By appointment only


Library Headquarters, The Old Mill, Church Street, Portlaoise, Co. Laois.
Ph: +353 57 8594982 (if dialling locally please use the 057 prefix also).

email: library@laoiscoco.ie

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