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Our guide to what’s on during one of the busiest weekends of the summer

Brought to you by Laois Tourism

It’s a seriously busy weekend in Laois with 57 events talking place all around the county. 

There are three festivals running. The Bulfin Heritage Cycle holds its annual event with this years trip all around Laois and Kilkenny. 

There are two new festivals The Power of Words in Abbeyleix and The Twin Trees in Ballinakill and both have amazing line ups from afternoon tea, talks, writing workshops, author talk and so much more. Please do check out all 3 of these festivals.  

Heritage week is still running with open days in Emo Court and Abbeyleix house to name but a few.

And if that wasn’t enough we have an Alpaca family day out, brewery tours and guided walks. Careful planning is needed this weekend to fit in as much as possible.  

THURSDAY 22 AUGUST 

Laois in the War of Independence – Heritage Week Event

Come along to Abbeyleix Library and hear Jim Fleming and Michael Rafter, well known Laois historians present a talk on Laois and Laois people in the War of Independence.

The event is free and all are welcome.  The talk begins at 7.30pm. For more information call 057 87 30020 or email eoriordan@laoiscoco.ie

Who Do You Think You Are – Heritage Week Event 

Join Laois Genealogy Club for step by step presentations on how it has researched the family histories of three well known Laois personalities. The event is held in Portlaoise Library from 7-8pm and is free to attend. For more information call 057 86 22333.

Short Story Competition – Lea Castle – Heritage Week

Test your history and writing skills with a short story competition. Write a story about an event linked to Lea Castle. Lea Castle should be clear in your text but does not have to be central.

All genres are accepted. Bring your story along to Portlarlington Library at 8pm-9pm for review.  For more infomation email@ info@leacastle.ie

Slieve Bloom Guided Walk 

The Slieve Bloom Walking Club’s next guided walk is a Glenbarrow walk.  This walk is a Grade B, 8km walk and takes 2-3 hours. Meeting point is Glenbarrow Carpark at 7pm. 

€5 per walk or €20 annual membership (€30 for family). For more information see www.slievebloom.ie.

Barnaby Fitzpatrick 2nd Baron Upper Ossory- Library Lecture

Stephen Cahill presents a lecture on Sir Barnaby Fitzpatrick in Rathdowney Library at 8pm. There is no cover charge. For more information call 057 85 94982 or email: library@laoiscoco.ie

Vintage Games Afternoon- Heritage Week Event

Join Cormac Bowell for an amazing afternoon of vintage games. Children will investigate and then play a whole range of games that were popular with children in times gone by.

So pop along to Mountrath Library from 2-5pm and get involved. Parents & grandparents very welcome. The event is free but booking required. Call 057 87 56378 to book or find out more. 

Historic Schools of Portarlington – Heritage Week

Talk on the Historic Schools of Portarlington by well-known historian and author John Stocks Powell. This free event will be held in Portlarlington Library from 8.30-9.30pm. For more information email@ info@leacastle.ie

The History and Heritage of Bridge – Heritage Week

Patrick Nee will give a talk on the history of the game of Bridge and he will discuss the benefits to the community and the individual. There will also be an opportunity to play bridge with an experienced player after the talk.

This event will be held in Portlaoise Library from 2-3.30pm and is free. For more information call 057 8622333 or email laoislibrary@laoiscoco.ie

Twin Trees Heywood Festival – Heritage Week

Ballinakill Community Development Committee will host its inaugural ‘Twin Trees’ festival this year.  The festival is inspired by the 150th anniversary of Sir Edwin Lutyens, the celebrated architect who created the exquisite formal garden at Heywood Gardens.  

There will be a strong focus on the ‘En Plein Air’ outdoor painting event held over 3 days from the 22nd to 24th  tutored by established artists Jock Nichol and Bridget Flannery.  The tutors will concentrate on a different location each day with day one – Heywood Gardens, day two – The Woods and day three – The Village.  Participant’s final works will be displayed on the Saturday afternoon.

There are still a very small number of places available. It costs €60 for the 3 day Plein Air event, or €25 per day (plus booking fee) and runs all day from 10am – 4pm each day.  To book see here.

FRIDAY 23 AUGUST

Greyhound on Train Performance – Heritage Week Event

Both Abbeyleix Heritage House and Dunamaise Arts Centre host this short play on Friday. It is based on testimonies of four extraordinary women, with music and puppetry, shining a new light on events in a turbulent period of Irish history.

Elizabeth Bloxham (A protestant teacher, pamphleteer, rabble rouser and radicaliser); Peg Flanagan (waitress, gun runner, spy and witness to Bloody Sunday) Josephine Stallard (Doctor, dispatcher and whirlwind romancer!) and Bridget Fitzpatrick (Her telegram stating “Greyhound on Train” was instrumental in securing the escape of Sean Hogan in a famous ambush!). 

The event is free and runs from 11am-12pm in Heritage House  and from 2pm in Dunamaise Arts Centre. Booking is recommend for both 

Wildlife Art Workshop – Heritage Week

This is a fun zoology lesson combined with a wildlife art workshop & scavenger hunt. It is suitable for ages 6-10 and runs in Portlaoise Library from 11am. The event is free but booking is required by calling 057 8622333.

Codebreaking with Cormac Bowell – Heritage Week

Stradbally Library becomes a world of spies and spy catchers this Friday.  Children will learn historically authentic codes and how to crack them. It’s a free event and suitable for children aged 9 to 13 years and runs from 12pm-1pm.  To book phone: 057 86 41673

Straw Craft Workshop for Children – Heritage Week

Learn all about the history and tradition of straw craft with Melanie Lorien and make a straw craft good luck charm to take home. Suitable for children aged 8 to 12 years.

The event runs in Portarlington Library from 3pm-4pm and is free but booking is required. To book contact: 057 86 43751 or email: emcevoy@laoiscoco.ie.

Straw Craft Workshop for Children – Heritage Week

This event also runs in Mountmellick Library from 11am-12pm. Learn all about the history and tradition of straw craft with Melanie Lorien and make a straw craft good luck charm to take home. Suitable for children aged 8 to 12 years.

The event  is free but booking is required. To book contact 057 86 44572 or email: ahyland@laoiscoco.ie.

The Power of Words Festival – Friday 

Another amazing festival running this weekend is the Power of Words Festival . This is an exciting celebration of Words – written, spoken, acted and sung, which will burst into being in the beautiful heritage town of Abbeyleix, Co. Laois from Friday 23rd to Sunday 25th

There are a number of great events daily. Many are free but may require booking.   For more information see http://powerofwords.ie/

10am – Baby Book Club

Fiona from Abbeyleix Library hosts a 1 hour session of stories and songs for babies and toddlers. Ages 0-3 in the library. Free but booking advised on 057 87 30020. 

12.30pm Superhero Storytime and craft 

Listen to some books about superheroes and learn how to be one. Suitable ages 5-8 in Abbeyleix Library. Booking advised 

12.30pm Bold Girls, Talk for Parents 

Aoife Murray talks to parent about the BOLD GIRLS initiative which aims to bread down societal barriers and instil confidence in girls and young women but recommending books with strong, intelligent characters.  This takes place in Abbeyleix Library. 

3pm Doors to the Past

A walking tour of Abbeyleix where the students of Mountmellick Youth Theatre will bring the stories to life. Meet at Heritage House. 

4pm Readers Clinic

Need some help to find a good book, Have your own personal libriaran on hand for an hour to help discover some new reading material.  This takes place in Abbeyleix Library. 

7pm Offical Launch of the Power of Words Festival.  

Heritage House. Author Andrea Carter will share her work and music by Spink Comhaltas. 

8.30pm In Conversation with Michael O Muircheartaigh

Abbeyleix Manor Hotel GAA brings everyone together and that’s what The Power of Words hopes to do also. Micheál O’Muircheartaigh is at the heart of the GAA. Come hear his Powerful Words about sport, life and language at our festival.  Adult €10. Family Ticket €20  To book see https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/in-conversation-withmicheal-o-muircheartaigh-tickets-66569078907

SATURDAY 24 AUGUST

Meet the Alpacas

Hushabye Farm, Killeigh is the venue for this lovely event. Come visit an Alpaca farm this Saturday. Meet these fabulous creatures, Get your face painted, make some ceramic alpacas to take them home, hear stories of the Magic of the Slieve Bloom Mountains from local author Jason O’Neill. Finish with a yummy picnic. Kids go home fed and entertained.

This is an ideal family day out in the heart of the Slieve Bloom region. Book now for this Saturday 24th Aug at 2pm til 5.30pm.  Tickets are €15 per child. Adults free are free and have to remain. To book see www.dunamaise.ie

Killeshin Reservoir- Past & Present Heritage Week

Killeshin Waterworks Amenity is hosting a celebration of the beautiful Killeshin Waterworks.  This is a great family friendly event with something for all ages. There is no charge and the event begins at 11am.

Bulfin Heritage Cycle Rally 2019 

The Bulfin Heritage Cycle is all about exploring Ireland’s hidden history and heritage, on High Nelly bicycles.  The 2 day event covers 75km at a gentle pace over the course of two days and is punctuated with heritage site visits, entertainment and food stops. 

The cycling is just one part of it and this year there is the option to follow the route in the comfort of a bus. This event is ideal for anyone who enjoys finding out more about their local history in an entertaining way. 

This group put as much emphasis on eating well and entertaining their guests as they do on the history. The quality of food also that is served over the weekend at many different locations is exceptional and a great reward after the cycle.  

Day 1 takes in Aylward’s Rural Heritage Museum, the 6th century Aghaboe Abbey, via Abbeyleix De Vesci Estate and St. Fintan’s Church at Cremogue and back to Durrow.  Day Two will see the group cycle to the Marble City, via Lisdowney and Freshford. to visit the Cathedral, named in Canice’s honour.

The cycle is leisurely and the company is great.  This is a really lovely way to spend 1 or 2 days. There are limited places available for the 1 day, 2 day or bus options. Tickets are incredible value as it covers all visits, heritage talks, re-enactments, music, food, overnight camping and fun.  To book or find out more see http://bulfinheritagecycle.com/

Twin Trees Festival – Day 2

The wonderful Twin Trees Festival has a number of great events this Saturday. For full detail see www.twintrees.ie 

12pm – 4pm Tours, Talks & Tea 

Meet at Heywood Gardens for a garden tour with Amanda Pitcairn followed David Averill, of the Lutyens Trust.  Enjoy a wonderful Afternoon Tea in Ballinakill followed by a Lambay, Lutyens & Jekyll Talk by Dr. Matthew Jebb, Botantic Gardens.  Tickets cost €30 and can be purchased online at www.twintrees.ie.

10am-12.30pm and 4-5pm Floral Artistry 

All Saints’ Church Of Ireland, Ballinakill Co, Laois will host a wonder floral Artistry display that is really a festival of flowers to depict architectural designs of Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944) Created by members of Durrow & Cullohill Flower and Garden Club, and Kilkenny Flower Club.  There is no cover charge so come along and see the amazing creations. 

7.30 – Picnic & Music evening 

Taking place in the beautiful surroundings of Heywood Gardens, Ballinakill, our Picnic & Musical Evening is one not to be missed. Everyone is welcome to bring along their own picnic, perhaps a cushion or chair, sit back, listen to some live music and relax. This is event is free so just come along and enjoy!

The Power Of Words Festival – Saturday

Saturday brings a very busy day of events in Abbeyleix. There is so much to keep everyone entertained. For more information see www.powerofwords.ie 

9.15am Town of Fountains 

A historical waking tour of Abbeyleix. 

10am -4pm What’s Your Story? 

Free 30 min genealogy sessions will be facilitated by Heritage House.  Booking is required. 

10am -3pm The Underground Writers Story 

Writing workshops in song writing, memoir and beginners fiction  will all run simultaneously in Herit age House from 10-3pm These will be led by authors Caroline Busher, Shane Dunphy and Sheila Forsey.  Tickets are € 35 per session and tickets can be found on Eventbrite. 

11am -4pm Fado Fado Abbeyleix Oral History Project

Come along and record your stories of old Abbeyleix and its people. Pre book between 11am and 1pm and drop in to record from 1pm-4.  This will be held in Morrissey’s Snug and facilitated by Heritage House.

12pm – Singsong by the Slide 

A local musician will facilate a great singsong for children of all ages. This will be held in Abbeyleix playground. 

12.30 Letters in the Post 

A play about love and relationships, the imperfections and the mysteries. A balance of laughter and sadness make it a human and life affirming story. Written and directed by Angela Keogh With John MacKenna and Angela Keogh. This cost €5 and will be held in the conservatory in Gallic Kitchen (Bramley’s) from 12:30pm-13:30pm. Tickets can be purchased here: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/letters-in-the-post-tickets-63530008967

2pm – Children’s Writing Workshop 

Author Helena Duggan read from her work and this is followed by an hour long writing workshop. This will be held in Heritage House and is suitable for children ages 9-3.  The event is free but booking is required. 

4pm Strings Attached -Heritage House

Afternoon readings – Niamh Boyce & John MacKenna. Readings will be followed by a Q&A session facilitated by Noelle O’Connell. This event will also have a musical element. Tickets are €12 and can be booked online. A limited number of tickets will be available on the door. This runs from 4pm-5:30pm. For tickets see https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/strings-attached-venue-tbc-tickets-63530414179

6pm The Living Poets Society

Our inaugural ‘Living Poet’ is the wonderful Mr. Pat Ingoldsby. Poet David Delaney will share some of Pat’s work, and will invite audience members to share their favourite poems of Pat’s.

A number of pieces of poetry will be dramatised and performed by invited actors, Mary Pat Moloney and Claire Blennerhasset. This will be held in Mueller and O’Connell Bakery, Main St, Abbeyleix. This is a free event, but we encourage you to purchase one of Pat’s books which will be available on the evening.

8pm The Healing Power of Words …with Fr. Paddy Byrne & Dr. Mark Hilliard

Fr Paddy Byrne, author of ‘All Will be Well’ and Dr. K. Mark Hilliard, author of ‘The Crow’s Enchanted Dance: The Phenomenology of Sacred Place and Sacred Space’  will share some of their writings, on the longing for, and necessity of, a sacred space – a church, a forest, time spent reading a book, whatever it might be. This will be held in the CYMS hall and tickets are €10 and can be purchased on Eventbrite. 

Thin As Lizzy

Kavanagh’s Bar & Venue host one of the very best Thin Lizzy tribute acts. Tickets are €12and the gig begins at 9.30pm. For tickets see www.ticketweb.ie.

Guided tour of Ballykilcavan Brewery

Enjoy a guided tour of the new Ballykilcavan Brewery, including a look at the 18th century stone farmyard at Ballykilcavan, a walk through the brewery and an explanation of the brewing process.

There is also a chance to taste the raw ingredients and to sample some of the finished beers. Tickets cost Adult: €12.50 Under 12: €6 Under 5: Free and the tours run from 2pm-3:30pm on both Saturday and Sunday.  For more information or to book see https://www.ballykilcavan.com/tours.html

SUNDAY 25 AUGUST

Twin Trees Festival – Sunday 

For full programme details see www.twintrees.ie

11am Yoga in the Garden 

We cannot think of a better way to begin the day, than a calming Yoga class, in the stunning surroundings of Heywood Gardens, on the morning after our Garden Party there. Our Yogi for the session is Simon Rogers from the Blackhill Woods Retreat.  The session costs €10 and runs at 11am. To book see https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/yoga-in-heywood-gardens-with-simon-rogers-tickets-62563801013

1-5pm Floral Artistry 

All Saints’ Church Of Ireland, Ballinakill Co, Laois will host a wonder floral Artistry display that is really a festival of flowers to depict architectural designs of Sir Edwin Lutyens (1869-1944)

Created by members of Durrow & Cullohill Flower and Garden Club, and Kilkenny Flower Club.  There is no cover charge so come along and see the amazing creations. 

Abbeyleix Estate Open Day- Heritage Week Event

This is the Abbeyleix District Lions Club annual open day and it may also be the last chance you get to experience the estate.  This is a lovely family day and refreshments are available. Tickets are €5 and children are free. The estate is open from 1pm to 5pm.

The Heath: Prehistoric Connections – Heritage Week

A walking tour of the Heath, Portlaoise, with archaeologist Eoin Sullivan. Spot the humps and bumps and learn what they can tell us about our prehistoric past.

Meet at The Heath National School at 11.30am.  This is a free event. For more information call 057 8664129 or email ccasey@laoiscoco.ie

Tudors and the Laois/Offaly Plantation – Heritage Week

Mountmellick Library hosts this interactive Irish History Live Show on The Tudors and The Plantation of Laois and Offaly 1555/56. The event runs from 11am-12pm  and is free but booking is required. To book contact 0578644572 / library@laoiscoco.ie

Antiques & Vintage Fair

The Killeshin Hotel is the venue for an Antiques and Vintage fair. The fair will include thousands of items, from rare books, coins and collectables and so much more.  It will run from 12pm -6pm and costs €3.50. For more information see facebook.com/VintageIreland.

Redmond O’Toole (8-string Brahms Guitar) – Heritage Week

Redmond O’Toole performs on an 8-string Brahms guitar. He has formerly toured extensively as part of The Chieftains and the Dublin Guitar Quartet. He has been an artist-in-residence in the National Concert Hall and the National Opera House. Now come and hear him play in the beautiful setting of Emo Court.

Tickets cost Adult: €15 Family: €50 and the show begins at 7:30pm-9:15pm. To find our more call 057 8626573 or email emocourt@opw.ie. Tickets available on www.eventbrite.com.

Guided Tours of Emo Court House – Heritage Week Event

This Sunday you can enjoy a free guided tour of the feature rooms in the house, where you will hear stories of the characters who lived there. See all the family portraits, fine furniture and photographs from 1790-1970. The house is open from 10:30am-4:30pm.  For more information call 057 8626573 or email emocourt@opw.ie. See www.emocourtopw.ie

The Power Of Words Festival – Sunday 

The 3rd and last day of the Power of Words Festival brings another great day of events. For full details see www.powerofwords.ie 

9.30am Walk with a Talk.

Guided tour of the Bog Walk. Meet at the Manor Hotel at 9.1. Free to attend. 

11am Fighting Words 

Fighting Words is a creative writing centre established by Roddy Doyle and Sean Love. Their aim is to help children and young people, and adults who did not have this opportunity as children, to discover and harness the power of their own imaginations and creative writing skills. The workshop places will be limited to 30 participants and the workshop is suited for 9-12 year olds. The workshop will be held in Heritage House and is free but reservation is required. To book see https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/fighting-words-tickets-63862425233

11am Letters in the Lobby

Come and read a letter you have written, It can be real or imagined.  This is an open mic event and is running in the Manor Hotel lobby. 

1.15pm Pizza and Poetry

Lunchtime poetry with pizza! You are invited to come and share your favourite poem while enjoying pizza made by renowned baker, Richard O’Connell. This event will be sprinkled with a topping of music. This is a free event 

3.30pm Through the Keyhole

Fascinating talk on the history of Heritage House with a local historian. This is a free event and is held in Heritage House. 

7pm Tales by the Fireside

Listen to several tales – old and not so old alike, as the turf fire crackles in the background!  This event takes place in St. Michael & All Angels’ Parochial Hall and is free but booking is required. Call 087 173 7852 or email sandymount.heritage@eircom.net to book.

Laois Heritage App 

Out and about Laois and want to know more about the local sites? Download the Laois Heritage App on the Google Play Store or Apple IStore.  It covers 14 different sites around the county with a brief audio guide on each.  The Laois Garden trail can also be found on this app. 

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