Heritage House holds a wide range of permanent exhibits covering life in Laois from the stone age right up to the present day.

Abbeyleix Carpet Factory

Abbeyleix Carpet Factory produced some of the first carpets in the world made using the latch hook needle. This implement was invented by Lord Robert Flower of Durrow Castle. The factory is particularly famous for producing carpets for the White Star Line especially her most famous ship, the ill fated RMS Titanic.

As part of the display Heritage House holds carpets from the local Roman Catholic Church and a carpet made for the Oak Room in Dublin’s Mansion House, the official residence of the Lord Mayor. Both of these carpets have distinctive features which are described as the ‘Abbeyleix design’.

The De Vesci Connection

The Vesey or de Vesci family have since their arrival into the area in 1699 had a huge impact on the area and community. From their decision to move the town from the flooding prone banks of the River Nore to the its present location and their support of community and social development.

Over the course of the past 300 years this family have left an indelible mark on every facet of life in Abbeyleix. They built both churches in the town, built schools, gave land for use as a sports pitch, attempted to develop industry and connected Abbeyleix to the modern era by bringing the railway to the town.

Rural Life

Heritage House contains a fine display of artefacts associated with rural life, from butter churns and other dairy equipment to cottage industries such as lace making, woodworking, and the sports that added so much colour to peoples lives. We also cover one of the most important aspects of rural life, the bog, where large portions of the population decamped for a couple of weeks to cut and save turf, the fuel that would have to see them through the winter.

Archaeology and History

Our prehistoric display covers the stone age, bronze age and iron age, and the Cashel Bog Body the oldest bog body to have been discovered anywhere in the world. Our collection includes a stone axe, a replica of The Blackhills Hoard, and a 4000 year old wooden stake.

We also have historic displays about the Rock of Dunamase, a castle established by William de Clare or Strongbow, the leader of the Norman invasion, and the Cistercian monastery of Abbey Leix, the monastery which gave the town its name.

The Mulhall Collection

Generously on loan from Mrs. Mai Mulhall this collection is an important record of life in a midlands town.

It comprises of photographs, documents and objects collected by the Morrissey family who were a business family in the town from 1775 to 2004. During that time they were variously hoteliers, undertakers, auctioneers, grocers, and bakers as well as being agents for the White Star Line.

The Model Railway


The smaller is an N gauge scale model of Abbeyleix railway station including the loading yards and sidings. The real railway station was closed in 1963 and is now a private dwelling. This layout was created by Mr Norman Rothwell.

The larger is a 00 gauge layout with multiple lines, stations, railway works and landscaping. This layout was built by the Midlands Model Railway Club who have their clubhouse on our premises.