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of County Laois, Ireland
Last updated 16 Feb 2010
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County Laois (Leix and Laoighis), formerly Queens, , this region was part of the possessions of the O'Mores (or O'Moores) before the Norman invasion. As in so many cases, the Norman grant of the lands to the Fitzpatricks was largely unsuccessful and the native Irish remained a constant threat until the sixteenth century when, along with the neighbouring Offaly, Laois was annexed to the English crown under Queen Mary and renamed "Queen's county". In case the Irish still hadn't got the point, the principal town was also renamed Maryborough. The county was retitled Laois after Independence in 1922, and Maryborough became Portlaoise.
7 May 1657. Dublin. Married: Christopher LOVETT and Frances MOORE (d/o O'MORE, “Prince of Leix”)
Excerpted from the Laois County Council's History of Laois:
In ancient times the O'Moore tribe-name of Uí Laoighis was applied to their territory, this name being derived from a famous Ulster ancestor named Lughaidh Laoigheseach, descendant of the renowned Conall Cearnach, Chief of the Red Branch Knights of Ulster. The territory consisted of the present Baronies of East and West Maryborough, Stradbally and Cullenagh, to which in after years were annexed the Baronies of Ballyadams and Slievemargy. After the arrival of the Anglo-Normas, the territory of the County was divided among seven Septs or Clans: O'Moore, O'Kelly, O'Deevy, O'Doran, O'Lalor, O'Dowling and McEvoy.
Towards the middle of the sixteenth century the O'Moores and the O'Connors of Offaly waged war on the English Settlers of the Pale. A military campaign by the English against them followed and in 1548 Giolla Patrick O'Moore and Brian O'Connor surrendered, went to England and were pardoned their lives, but their lands were confiscated.
Laois was constituted as Queen’s County by act of Parliament in 1556 during the reign of Queen Mary. This entitled the English King and Queen to Leixe, Slewmarge, Irry, Glinmaliry and Offaly, with the fort in Leixe to be named Mary Burgh and the one in Offaly Phillippeston. For the next fifty years the O'Moores waged war on the settlers until at length, O'Moores resistance died and in 1607 the remnants of the clan were transplanted to Kerry.
In 1570, a charter of Queen Elizabeth raised the town of Maryborough to the Status of Borough and assigned its municipal bounds, while 1650 saw Cromwell's forces destroy Dunamaise the ancient stronghold of the O'Moores. The 18th Century was a period of colonial consolidation in the County with the importance of Maryborough growing as it became the administrative centre.
The Famine and its aftermath more than halved the population of the County: from 159,930 in 1841 to 73,124 in 1881. The last year of the Century saw the first meeting of the County Council (set up under the Local Government Act of 1898) held in Maryborough Courthouse on 22nd April 1899; its first Chairman being Patrick A. Meehan. The 20th Century heralded the rise of Nationalism with the Town Commissioners of Maryborough restoring the Town to its ancient name of Portlaoise in 1920.
Important: All Records collected for this county may not have been added here as yet. See also the Combs Research List Archives
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