Port Laoise

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Portlaoise
Port Laoise
Town
Main Street, Portlaoise
Main Street, Portlaoise
Coat of arms of Portlaoise
Coat of arms
Portlaoise is located in Ireland
Portlaoise
Portlaoise
Coordinates: 53°01′51″N 7°18′03″W / 53.0309°N 7.3008°W / 53.0309; -7.3008
Country Ireland
Province Leinster
County Laois
Founded 1557 AD(as Maryborough)
Town Charter 1570 AD
Government
 • Type Laois County Council
 • LEA Portlaoise
 • Dáil Éireann
 • European Parliament Midlands–North-West
Area
 • Total 9.7 km2 (3.7 sq mi)
Population (2011)
 • Total 20,145
 • Rank 18th (2nd in Midlands)
 • Density 2,074.7/km2 (5,373/sq mi)
 • Ethnicity[1]
Demonym(s) Portlaoisian
Time zone WET (UTC0)
 • Summer (DST) IST (UTC+1)
Eircode R32
Area code(s) 057, (+353)57
Currency Euro;(EUR:)
Date Format dd/mm/yyyy (AD)
Vehicle index
mark code
LS
Drives on the Left

Port Laoise or Portlaoise (Irish [pˠɔɾˠt̪ˠˈl̪ˠiːʃə], anglicised /pɔːrtˈlʃ/[7]) is the county town of Co.Laois in the Midlands region of Ireland. The population in 2011 was 20,145.

History[edit]

Portlaoise Courthouse

The site where the present town is situated is referred to in the Annals of the Four Masters as Port Laoighisi during the 16th century. The present town originated as a settlement around the old fort, "Fort of Leix" or "Fort Protector", the remains of which can still be seen in the town centre. Its construction began in 1548 under the supervision of the then Lord Deputy Sir Edward Bellingham in an attempt to secure English control in the county following the exile of native Celtic chieftains the previous year. The fort's location on rising ground, surrounded to the south and east by the natural defensive barricades of the River Triogue and an esker known locally as 'the Ridge', greatly added to its strategic importance.

The town proper was established by an act of Parliament during the reign of Queen Mary in 1557. Though the early fort and its surrounding settlement had been known by a number of names, such as Governor, Port Laois, Campa and Fort Protector, the new town was named Maryborough (IPA [ˈmarbrə]) and the county was named Queen's County in Mary's honour. In about 1556, Portlaoise acquired its first parish church—Old St Peter's—situated to the west of Fort Protector. Although first built as a Catholic church, thanks to Queen Mary's reestablishment of Roman Catholicism, the church was used for Protestant services after the accession to the English throne of Mary's half-sister, Elizabeth.

The area had been a focus of the rebellion of Ruairí Óg Ó Mórdha, a local chieftain who had rebelled and had lost his lands, which the Crown wanted to be settled by reliable landowners. For the next fifty or so years, the new English settlers in Maryborough fought a continual, low-scale war with the Gaelic chieftains who fought against the new settlement. The town was burnt several times by the end of the sixteenth century.

Ordnance Survey Map, 1839, showing Maryborough

Portlaoise was granted a market in 1567, and then in 1570, a charter of Queen Elizabeth I raised the town to the rank of borough. This allowed the establishment of a Corporation of the Borough, a body which consisted of a burgomaster, two bailiffs, a town clerk, and a sergeant at arms, as well as various other officers, burgesses and freemen. Until the Act of Union took effect in 1801 and the abolition of its franchise, the town returned two members to the Irish Parliament. The Corporation itself existed until 1830.

In 1803-04, a new Church of Ireland church was built to replace the Old St Peter's and was the first building to be erected on the new Market Square. The building is attributed to architect James Gandon. Other notable buildings constructed in Portlaoise in the nineteenth century included the now-destroyed French Renaissance-style Town Hall on Market Square; the Court House on Main Street, built in 1805; the County Gaol built in 1830 to a design by William Deane Butler; and the neo-classical St. Fintan’s Asylum, built in 1832 on the Dublin Road.

In 1929, a few years after the foundation of the Irish Free State, the town was renamed Portlaoighise (later simplified to Portlaoise) and the county was renamed County Laois.[8] A number of other towns in the Free State also reverted to their Irish (or anglicised Irish) names during this period.[citation needed]

Local government[edit]

Bridge Street and Church of Sts. Peter and Paul

The town forms part of the Portlaoise Municipal District Local Electoral Area for elections to Laois County Council. This includes both the urban Port Laoise area, Abbeyleix and Ballinakill and surrounding rural areas. Portlaoise's Town Council was abolished in 2014.

Portlaoise is twinned with Coulounieix-Chamiers in the Dordogne département of France.

Demography[edit]

Portlaoise is one of Ireland's fastest growing towns, with a 37.9% increase in population from 2006 to 2011. It has a large immigrant community (35% of total population) originating mainly from Poland, Slovakia, Lithuania, Nigeria and Latvia. Portlaoise is known for having one of the highest percentages of black residents in the country. The mayor, Rotimi Adebari was the first person of African descent to become mayor in Ireland.

Portlaoise has the highest percentage of people under the age of 18 in Ireland. Due to rapid population growth due in particular to immigration from Eastern Europe especially Poland and Slovakia and its location in the commuter belt Portlaoise boasts some of the country's best services. These include a new fire station and a large swimming leisure complex. Portlaoise has three new secondary schools and five new primary schools (two upcoming). Due to the rapid population growth Portlaoise will see the opening of a new 1,000 student secondary school. Portlaoise has the highest percentage of youth per percentage of population in Ireland with the town considered to be the baby boom capital of Ireland. In the 2016 Census Portlaoise was again in the top 10 fastest growing regions with the population of Portlaoise town and its suburbs approaching 25,000.

Economy[edit]

Portlaoise has long been a major commercial and retail hub for the Midlands. Until the mid 20th century, the main industries of the town were flour milling and the manufacture of worsted fabric. Since their respective declines, among the largest employers are state owned bodies such as the maximum-security Port Laoise Prison, which houses the majority of the Irish Republican political prisoners sentenced in the Republic, the Midlands Prison, the Department of Agriculture and the Midland Regional Hospital, Portlaoise. State owned companies Córas Iompair Éireann (have a National Traincare Maintenance Depot in Portlaoise), the ESB (have a Training Centre in the town) and also An Post are all major employers.

Due to its location and strong transport connections, The National Spatial Strategy chose Portlaoise as the location for Ireland's first Inland Port. This designation encourages the town to focus on the growth of distribution, logistics and warehouse uses. An Post operate the second largest mail centre in Ireland (after Dublin) at their depot in Portlaoise.[9]

Retail[edit]

Retail spaces include the Dunamaise Arts Centre which comprises a cinema, performance space and exhibition space, the Portlaoise Leisure Centre, Laois Shopping Centre, Kyle Centre, Parkside Shopping Centres and a retail park on the South Circular Road.

Tourism[edit]

Transport[edit]

The railway station
South Western
Commuter
Phoenix Park Tunnel
to Dublin Connolly
Luas Red Line
to Dublin Connolly or Point Depot
Dublin Heuston Luas
Luas Red Line
to Tallaght or Saggart
 
Inchicore
Works
 
Park West and
Cherry Orchard
M50 motorway
Clondalkin/Fonthill
Kishoge
Adamstown
Hazelhatch and Celbridge
The Grand Canal
Sallins and Naas
The Grand Canal
River Liffey
Newbridge
Kildare
Dublin–Waterford Line
to Waterford
Monasterevin
The Grand Canal
River Barrow
Portarlington
Dublin–Westport/Galway Line
to Westport or Galway
Portlaoise
Permanent way depot
Conniberry Junction
Togher Inland Port (future)
Portlaoise Traincare Depot
M7 motorway
Dublin–Cork Line
to Cork
Portlaoise town centre

. Portlaoise is one the busiest train stations outside of Dublin. It is the terminus of the Portlaoise Commuter Service which stops at all stations to Heuston and runs hourly off peak and every 20/30 minutes during peak times.

  • Córas Iompair Éireann opened a new rail depot south-west of Portlaoise town centre in March 2008 (officially opened on 25 July 2008). The depot provides a high quality maintenance and servicing facility for the 183 new intercity railcars and some facilities for outer suburban railcars serving the Kildare Route.
  • Bus Éireann operates an intercity service between Dublin and Cork/Limerick which calls at Port Laoise.
  • The town is the terminus for Dublin-Portlaoise coach services operated by Dublin Coach which is at James Fintan Lawlor Avenue, it also stops at Portlaoise Hospital and Kilminchy.
  • Europcar offer a car rental location in Portlaoise.

Culture[edit]

Nightlife[edit]

Portlaoise’s central location within Ireland and its concentration of restaurants, pubs, bars and nightclubs around Market Square, Main Street and the Church Street area of the town centre and other nearby facilities such as Paintball, Golf, Bowling and other amenities make it a popular destination for Hen & Stag Parties and other weekend breaks. Portlaoise railway station is the closest station to Stradbally Hall where the Electric Picnic Festival is held each year.

Arts and Festivals[edit]

Every year the town hosts the Old Fort Quarter Festival in June, the Halloween Howls Comedy Festival on the October bank holiday weekend and the Leaves Literature Festival in November.

Charity[edit]

Since early 2008 Portlaoise has been the Irish base of Self Help Africa, formerly Self Help Development International, the Irish development agency engaged in implementing long term rural development programmes in Sub-Sahara. Established at the time of the Ethiopian Famine of 1984, Self Help is the chosen charity of the Irish Farmers Association.

Church with steeple - geograph.org.uk - 730272.jpg

Sport[edit]

  • Portlaoise RFC is the local rugby club, based just outside the town, at Togher.
  • Portlaoise GAA is the local Gaelic Athletic Association club and the most successful GAA club in Leinster. Hon da Town
  • Portlaoise AFC is the local soccer club, based at Rossleighan Park, and has many unsuccessful graduates in the national league and cup competitions.
  • Port Laoise Leisure Centre has a 25m pool, a gym, a FIFA-approved 2* Astro pitch, a soccer pitch and large children's playground.
  • PORTLAOISE-SENIOR-BASKETBALL-CLUB
  • Portlaoise Golf Club is based at an 18-hole golf course on Abbeyleix Road.

Notable People[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.cso.ie/px/pxeirestat/Statire/SelectVarVal/Define.asp?Maintable=CD705&Planguage=0
  2. ^ Census for post 1821 figures.
  3. ^ http://www.histpop.org
  4. ^ http://www.nisranew.nisra.gov.uk/census
  5. ^ Lee, JJ (1981). "On the accuracy of the Pre-famine Irish censuses". In Goldstrom, J. M.; Clarkson, L. A. Irish Population, Economy, and Society: Essays in Honour of the Late K. H. Connell. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press. 
  6. ^ Mokyr, Joel; O Grada, Cormac (November 1984). "New Developments in Irish Population History, 1700–1850". The Economic History Review. 37 (4): 473–488. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0289.1984.tb00344.x. 
  7. ^ John Murray, Doireann Ní Bhriain (12 February 2014). Pronunciation. John Murray Show. RTÉ. Event occurs at 18m55s–19m45s. 
  8. ^ Port Laoise, Placenames Database of Ireland.
  9. ^ http://www.eirephilatelicassoc.org/content/volume-3-number-8
  10. ^ "Maryborough station" (PDF). Railscot – Irish Railways. Retrieved 3 November 2007. 

External links[edit]