Abbeyleix, Main St
|Elevation||95 m (312 ft)|
|Irish Grid Reference||S435850|
Abbeyleix was formerly located on the N8, the main road from Dublin to Cork, and thus provided a bottleneck, with up to 15,000 vehicles passing along the town's main street every day. Since May 2010, however, the town has been bypassed by the M8 motorway, with the former N8 consequently downgraded to the N77 national secondary road.
Modern Abbeyleix is one of the oldest planned estate towns in Ireland. It was largely built in the 18th century by Viscount de Vesci. The Nore regularly flooding made the town an unhealthy place to live. Around 1790, John Vesey determined that the town was not suitable for his tenants, and began to design a new one. The old town was leveled, and the residents moved to the new one. A memorial to the 2nd Viscount de Vesci, paid for by subscriptions, is in the town center. It features a water trough for horses.
Today, there is a large range of historical structures still standing in and around the small heritage town - ancient ring forts, burial grounds, churches and estate houses. The town once had a carpet factory, established in 1904 by Yvo de Vesci, the 5th Viscount – notably producing some of the carpets used on the RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic.
Heritage House is the heritage centre, with visitor information and an exhibition on the county's history and local attractions. Original antique carpets and vintage costumes are on display alongside archaeological and historical artefacts.
Bus Éireann's expressway service between Dublin and Cork ceased to serve Abbeyleix on 30 June 2012. As an interim measure until 11 August 2012 Bus Éireann operated a shuttle service (route 128) to connect with Expressway services at Portlaoise. Slieve Bloom Coaches also have a route from Borris-in-Ossory to Portlaoise which serves the town.
There is a District Hospital in the town, and a number of shops and pubs. Father Breen Park has fields for soccer and other sports, while the adjacent CYMS hall is home to a number of clubs, including boxing and Tae-Kwon-Do House also provides guided tours of the museum and runs workshops throughout the year. The Abbeyleix Manor Hotel is part of the Magnuson Hotels chain.
The "Lords Walk Loop" is a 2.4 kilometer loop that traces an old walking route taken by the De Vesci Family to reach the local church and railway station.
Buildings of noteEdit
- Abbeyleix Market House is a five-bay, four storey building which was previously used as a Fire Station and Library. It has been renovated as a state-of-the-art library and exhibition centre.
- The de Vesci estate (Abbeyleix Estate) on the Ballacolla road with its gardens is open to the public one day a year. All proceeds from this opening are given to a local charity. As of 2019, the estate is being marketed for sale, with an asking price of ε20 million. 
- Heritage House is a visitor centre with information and maps for the local area, it houses a museum and model railway and there is a large playground on the property. This 19th-century building, once the North Boys School, is listed on the Register of Protected Structures.
- The Abbeyleix South National School is a 19th-century building, not open to the public.
- Morrissey's public house on Main Street claims to be the oldest in Ireland.
- Preston House on Main Street is an old school house.
- Sextons House is a renovated 19th-century cottage.
- Abbeyleix Further Education Centre, located on the Mountrath Road, is housed in a former Technical School and is a good example of the school architecture of the time.
- "Abbeyleix (Laois Heritage Trail)", Laois County Council
- "Titanic Carpet Factory". Archived from the original on 26 April 2012. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
- "Abbeyleix station" (PDF). Railscot - Irish Railways. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 September 2007. Retrieved 8 September 2007.
- Abbeyleix Manor Hotel
- "Lords Walk Loop Abbeyleix", All Trail
- "The Abbey Leix Estate, Abbeyleix, Co. Laois". DAFT.
- Heritage House
- Who Was Who in America, Historical Volume, 1607-1896. Chicago: Marquis Who's Who. 1963.
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