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Slieve Bloom Village and Heritage Route

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Portlaoise, Laois, Republic of Ireland

All outdoor lovers will appreciate a visit to the Slieve Blooms as they offer breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside and on a clear cloud free day you can see the four highest points of each of Ireland’s four provinces.

All outdoor lovers will appreciate a visit to the Slieve Blooms as they offer breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside and on a clear cloud free day you can see the four highest points of each of Ireland’s four provinces. They are rich in flora and fauna and as many as sixty five different bird species have been sighted here. They are cloaked in a fascinating tapestry woven by nature and then worked by humankind over thousands of years. Forestation may be the predominating feature nowadays and the many glens are alive with the sigh of trees, the rush of water, the sound of birdsong and the bark of deer.

A mere hundred years ago, these same glens sustained many families, who tried to make a living as small farmers, by quarrying rock and saving turf.

The Slieve Bloom Way is a village and heritage route that makes a circuit of The Slieve Blooms in Counties Laois and Offaly. It is 43 miles in length and ascends 5000 feet.

Starting from Portlaoise, take the N80 to Mountmellick. In 1659 a small group of Quakers settled here and over the next century they played a big part in transforming a sleepy village in the bend of the Owenass River into “The Manchester of Ireland” By the early 1800’s the town was a centre of textile production and its factories also produced glue, starch, snuff and candles among other goods. Canal barges took the town wares throughout Ireland and brought shoppers back to its fine streets. Today’s Mountmellick fine buildings and historical sites are identified on its heritage trail, which is signposted throughout the town.

There is also a museum here that tells the story of Mountmellick’s rich Quaker and industrial history. It also showcases Mountmellick Work, a uniquely Irish form of embroidery that developed in the 1800’s to enable local women to support themselves.

Turn left and continue down the Main St until you see a sign (on your left) to Rosenallis. Three miles north-west of Mountmellick you will find the Rosenallis Quaker Burial Ground, known locally as The Friends Sleeping place.