Heritage House Museum in Abbeyleix Ireland


This was the website for Heritage House Museum in Abbeyleix, Ireland. Abbeyleix is the oldest planned estate town in Ireland. The museum in Heritage House tells the story of this town, from ancient prehistory up to the 20th century. The content below is from the site's 2013 archived pages.

The current website for theHeritage House Museum is: www.abbeyleixheritage.com

The first time I visited Laois County in Ireland I was trying to track down relatives from my mother's family. I had used a Laois genealogy site to first discover some long lost relatives and then decided a trip to Ireland was in order. I visited the Heritage House Museum in Abbeyleix, the Heyward Gardens, Aghaboe Abby, the Timahoe Round Tower, and the Rock of Dunamas which was actually the remains of a large medieval castle built on an amazing rock outcrop. Recently I was looking at the photos I took of that first trip in 2012. There I am standing among the castle ruins which totally dominates the surrounding countryside. It had been a glorious day and there was only one other person visible, sitting on a rock. She was from NYC and she was distraught. I asked if I could do anything for her and she showed me the tablet displaying Google's search results, where a search for her name revealed a DUI arrest from 5 years ago. She had already tried with no success to contact the website with the DUI and Google. After asking around, she discovered a company that specializes in Google search results removal. They claim to be able to delete search results by pushing the bad notice off of Google's page 1. Not a perfect solution but a definite improvement. And it's expensive, hence the tears. Right there on the museum grounds she committed to the removal service. We celebrated together. I am planning another trip to Ireland and looked up the Heritage House Museum and found it's new slick website. This time I will bring my two kids and am looking forward to enrolling them in the Kids Shipwreck Dig Workshops which sounds like loads of fun.

Heritage House, Abbeyleix
Abbeyleix, Co Laois, Ireland
Phone : 057 8731653

Abbeyleix Heritage House

Housed in the Old North National School, our Heritage Centre interprets the Planned Estate Town of the de Vesci Landlords, once home to the Abbeyleix Carpet Factory, where a number of hand-tufted carpets were made for the state rooms of the Titanic.


Abbeyleix Heritage Titanic Exhibition


The Titanic exhibition at Heritage House celebrates the initiative of Ivo de Vesci, the 5th Viscount, who was instrumental in setting up a very successful carpet factory in Abbeyleix in 1904. Making high quality carpets, the factory supplied carpets to Harrods in London, Marshall Fields in Chicago and supplied specific orders for the coronation of King George V, for the secretary's office in the Grandstand at Royal Ascot , for the Mansion House in Dublin and many more.

Forced to amalgamate with a factory in Kildare and losing control of the Abbeyleix factory, the Titanic connection was born out of Ivo de Vesci's determination to win back the factory. Following a personal drive to fill orders for the flagging factory, The White Star Line ordered four hand-tufted rugs for the S.S. Olympic, built at Harland and Wolff and launched in 1911. When the Titanic was being fitted out, The White Star Line, impressed with the quality of the carpets supplied to the Olympic, ordered three hand-tufted carpets for the state rooms of the S.S. Titanic.

Believing the fortunes of the factory to be on the turn, and recognising the power of advertising, Ivo de Vesci had the foresight to photograph the Titanic carpets on the looms at Abbeyleix A copy of that photograph forms part of the Titanic Exhibition, and uniquely, a photograph from the Fr. Brown collection depicting the writing room on the Titanic clearly shows one of the Abbeyleix rugs in situ on the Titanic.

The Titanic exhibition is complemented with some wonderful memorabilia which is on loan from The Shannon Ulster Titanic Society.

Abbeyleix Heritage Company is indebted to Patrick Toms for his continued support of the Titanic Exhibition at Heritage House.


Opening Hours:

Open Tuesday - Saturday, 9am-5pm
Closed for lunch Saturdays 1pm-2pm


We are located on the North or Dublin side of the town.

Admission Charges:

Adult: €3 Students/Group/OAP: €2 


sextons_house_in_derilict_condition.jpg work_in_progress.jpg
Sexton's House was the home of Bill Galbraith who served as Sexton to the Church of Ireland in Abbeyleix for over fifty years.

The tasteful restoration of Sexton's House stands as a monument to those whose vision, drive and commitment saved this historic residence.



August 2013 

Heritage Week 2013
17 - 25 August


Our new exhibition Bog Heritage will be launching on 19 August. This exhibition will help show the history that lies preserved in the bogs which cover much of Laois and reveal the cultural significance their presence had and has on the lives of so many people. This exhibition has been created with the help of Abbeyleix Bog Project.

An Art, Craft and Design Summer Camp is being hosted by Heritage House from 19-25 August. This camp is being held by Aishling Hennessy and full details and bookings can be got by contacting her directly on 0876478677.

Heritage House is proud to host a Kids Shipwreck Dig Workshop on Tuesday, 20 August from 10.30 to 12 noon. The aim of this workshop is to give children aged 8-12 an experience of what it is like to uncover the past on an archaeological excavation and the excitement which follows the discovery of ancient treasure. This even is free of charge but please book in advance with Heritage House as places are limited.

'Hurl' a play for all ages will be held in Heritage House on Wednesday, 21 August at 2pm. Admissino to this play, which is sure to be hugely enjoyable for all the family, is free of charge and is kindly supported by Laois Heritage Office.

Funding Support:

We also receive funding support from Pobal's Community Services Programme. The centre provides a resource for the community and for visitors to the town of Abbeyleix and the County of Laois.



More Background On The Heritage House Museum

The Heritage House Museum in Abbeyleix, Ireland, offers a profound look into the history and culture of the area, from ancient times to the modern day. Situated in the former North Boys School, the museum was officially opened in 1997 and has since been a beacon of heritage preservation and education in County Laois.

The museum's exhibits provide insight into various aspects of local history, including the Abbeyleix Carpet Factory, known for its production of carpets for the Titanic, among others. This connection to the Titanic is a particular point of interest for many visitors. The museum also showcases the broader history of Abbeyleix and its development, especially its establishment as a planned estate town by the de Vesci family in the 18th century. The town's relocation to avoid flooding and its subsequent prosperity highlight a unique aspect of Irish urban development.

Visitors to the museum can enjoy self-guided tours starting from €5, or opt for guided tours starting from €7, making it an accessible option for those interested in exploring their family heritage or learning more about this fascinating region of Ireland. The museum also features a Research Room, offering deeper dives into local history and genealogy for those tracing their roots back to Abbeyleix or the surrounding areas.

Reviews from previous visitors praise the museum for its informative displays and the quality of its exhibits. Events like the werewolf event during Halloween receive special mentions for their creativity and engagement, pointing to the museum's effort to create an immersive and enjoyable experience for all ages. The model railway exhibition is another highlight, offering an interesting look at the area's transportation history alongside the main historical narratives.

The Heritage House Museum in Abbeyleix stands out not only for its rich historical offerings but also for its role in the community. It provides a space where the past is preserved and shared, contributing significantly to the cultural landscape of County Laois and Ireland as a whole.

For more detailed information, including visiting hours and special events, you can contact the Heritage House directly or visit their website. This museum is a must-visit for anyone interested in the rich tapestry of Irish history and heritage​.

Cultural Significance

The Heritage House Museum in Abbeyleix holds a special place in the cultural and historical landscape of County Laois, Ireland. This museum, set in the historic north boys' school, offers a journey through the rich tapestry of the area's past. From the pre-Christian era, marked by warring tribes, through the Norman influence and the suppression of monasteries under Henry VIII, to the brush with the industrial revolution, the museum encapsulates pivotal moments in Irish history. It also delves into the influence of landlords and plantations on the region​​.

Abbeyleix itself, a town with deep historical roots, owes much of its architectural and social development to the de Vesci family, who moved the town to its current location to escape flooding. This planned estate town prospered, becoming known for its market house, now a library, and for its beautiful Church of Most Holy Rosary and Church of Ireland, among other historical buildings​​.

One of the museum's highlights is its connection to the Abbeyleix Carpet Factory, which produced carpets for the Titanic's state room. This link not only showcases the global reach of local craftsmanship but also provides an intriguing insight into the town's industrial past. The museum's exhibits extend to ancient artifacts and traditional crafts from Laois, offering a comprehensive overview of the area's cultural heritage​​.

Abbeyleix Heritage House is part of Ireland's Ancient East, an initiative that highlights the nation's rich history and encourages exploration of its ancient sites. The museum is recommended for a visit duration of 1 to 1.5 hours, allowing visitors to immerse themselves fully in the story of Abbeyleix and its surroundings. The facility is family-friendly, with amenities and play areas for children, emphasizing its role as an educational resource for all ages​​.

Through its exhibits, the Heritage House Museum in Abbeyleix not only preserves the history of the area but also serves as a testament to the resilience and innovation of its people over the centuries. It's a must-visit for anyone interested in Irish history, culture, and the intricate web of stories that define this part of Ireland.


The Heritage House Museum in Abbeyleix is deeply entwined with the town's history and the significant influence of the de Vesci family. The original town, which grew around an early Christian abbey, was moved to its current location by the de Vesci family in the 18th century to escape flooding. The de Vescis were instrumental in the town's development, including the establishment of industries such as flour mills, a brewery, and notably, a carpet factory that produced carpets for the Titanic. The family's contributions to the town's infrastructure, including the Alms House for poor widows and the Workhouse for the destitute, underscore their lasting impact on Abbeyleix.

The Heritage House Museum itself is housed in the historic north boys' school, reflecting the educational and social reforms introduced by the de Vesci family and their efforts to improve the town's living conditions and employment opportunities. The museum's location and its collection offer insights into the town's history, from its early monastic roots to its industrial achievements and the community-driven initiatives that have preserved its rich heritage.

The museum stands as a testament to the community's resilience and the pivotal role of the de Vesci family in shaping the physical and social landscape of Abbeyleix. Through its exhibitions and educational programs, the Heritage House Museum not only preserves the history of Abbeyleix and County Laois but also serves as a vibrant center for learning and cultural engagement, reflecting the town's journey through centuries of change and development​​​​​​.


The Heritage House Museum in Abbeyleix enjoys a positive reputation among visitors, showcasing a rich tapestry of local history and culture. The museum, which is housed in the former Abbeyleix North National School, has received praise for its engaging exhibits that cover a broad spectrum of the area's past, from its earliest days through to modern times. Reviewers on TripAdvisor highlight its excellent collection, including fascinating insights into the town's connection to the Titanic through the local carpet factory, and its detailed model railway exhibition. The museum's ability to cater to a wide audience, including families and history enthusiasts, is often noted, with visitors appreciating the well-presented and informative displays.

Visitors have specifically mentioned the museum's model of the Rock of Dunamase and the displays related to the Titanic carpets as highlights. The community-run aspect of the museum is also a point of praise, with many appreciating the efforts to recycle and repurpose the historic building for educational purposes. The museum's staff have been lauded for their friendliness and knowledge, enhancing the overall visitor experience.

The Heritage House Museum's role in promoting Irish rural life and its historical significance, coupled with its interactive and educational approach, has made it a must-visit destination in the region. The inclusion of varied exhibits, from old scientific and medical equipment to artifacts related to local industries, ensures that there's something of interest for every visitor.

For those interested in exploring the cultural heritage of Ireland, especially in the midlands, the Heritage House Museum in Abbeyleix presents a compelling and enriching experience, as evidenced by the positive feedback from past visitors​​​​​​.