Laois Heritage Society was founded in the early 1970s. It replaced the Old Laois Society which had operated from the 1950s. It serves as the umbrella body for heritage interests in County Laois and draws its membership from all parts of the county.
Included in the Society’s activities are regular talks, walks, outings, site visits and co-operating and supporting local heritage groups, where appropriate. Among the Society’s aims is to create awareness of the rich and unique heritage in the county. Anoter important part of its work is concerned with conservation and keeping a watching brief on threatened sites and artefacts.
The Society and its members have been involved with many important programmes and projects over the years. This has included the relocation of the War Memorial in Portlaoise to a new site at Tower Hill and the takeover of Emo Court by the State.
Most importantly, Laois Heritage Society has spearheaded the conservation work at the Rock of Dunamaise, the county’s most important and visible heritage site. There were two achaeologival digs there in the 1990s and many important finds were made, including artefacts now in the National Museum. The second phase of a €1.9 million conservation project was completed in 2006.
Among the major projects being pursued in the establishment of a County Museum at the site of the Old Fort of Maryborough.