Daily Archives: January 30, 2011

A Tour of Ireland ~ Episode 18

The episode today will be light as I am under self imposed short visits to the laptop until my eye has well and truly settled.  I would hate to undo all the good work.  I also want time to explore and enjoy once more, the detail in the great outdoors.


The gentle rolling hills of the SLIEVE BLOOM MOUNTAINS rise from the central plains of Ireland, forming a natural link between Counties Laois and Offaly. They are at the cross-roads of Ireland half-way between Galway and Dublin, Belfast and Cork, and Donegal and Rosslare. Their central location makes the Slieve Bloom area ideal as an interesting place to break your journey when en-route to other parts of Ireland.

Laoise was partially covered at the end of Episode 8 but I missed this excellent link first time round.

Mountmellick was a settlement in the fifteenth century. Situated on a narrow river called the Owenass (river of the falls). The Society of Friends (The Quakers) came in 1657 led by William Edmundson, they saw a future for this settlement and built it into a town. This town was to grow to eight thousand people. With twenty-seven industries which included Breweries, Distillery, Woollen Mills, Cotton, Tanneries and Glass, it was a boomtown in the late nineteenth century.  The Woollen Mills employed two thousand people, thus Mountmellick became known as the Manchester of Ireland.  In 1851 the first Sugar Beet Factory in Ireland opened in Mountmellick.

Today the factories are gone, Mountmellick has a population of circa 3,000, and the town is small enough to retain the charms of Irish rural life, while large enough to provide many “urban” services such as transport, education and sports facilities.  I may have covered Mountmellick Embroidery in the Craft work posts but here you will find information on this particular white work embroidery.

Portlaoise, is the county town of County Laois  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.  The town proper was established by an act of Parliament during the reign of Queen Mary of England in 1557. The English renamed the town Maryborough and the county was named “Queen’s County” in her honour.

Rock of Dunamaise Portlaoisemight be worth a little time.


Tullamore, the capital of County Offaly, is the third largest town in the Midlands. The town’s name derives from Tulach Mhór meaning ‘big hill’, in the heart of Ireland’s finest grain growing region, surrounded by mountains, bogs and rich agricultural land providing both the fine barley and pure water essential to the creation of good whiskey.  It has given its name to the famous Tullamore Dew.  The distillery and the town prospered throughout the 19th century. The Grand Canal, that connects Tullamore with Dublin, was the main thoroughfare through the town and vitally important in bringing goods and materials to the town and distributing the whiskey to wider markets.

The legendary Irish whiskey can be traced back to 1829 when the Tullamore Distillery was founded in Tullamore, County Offaly by Michael Molloy.  Daniel E Williams was the major influence on the development of the distillery. His initials, D-E-W, inspired the whiskey to be named ‘Tullamore Dew’ with the original slogan “Give every man his Dew” still in use today.

There is more to Birr Castle & Gardens than it’s famous Box hedges and Giant Telescope.