Birr Castle & Gardens
Developed around the Birr Castle estate of the Parsons family, the Earls of Rosse, this historic town showcases the 18th and 19th century architecture in County Offaly – an environmental and scientific time capsule only 15 km from Kilcormac! This town’s history extends long before this, however, as it was actually home to St.Brendan – one of the “twelve apostles of Ireland” – in the 6th century.
Birr Castle Demesne, in addition to being the seat of the Parsons family for 14 generations, is also home to the spectacular Gardens and the Science Centre. The award winning gardens, that stretch over 50 hectares, house over 2,000 species of plants, including an abundance of rare plants that the Earls of Rosse have collected from all around the world over last last 150 years, over 40 champion trees, the world’s tallest box hedges, as well as rivers, lakes and waterfalls. Birr Castle was once the international centre of scientific discovery and innovation, as the third Earl of Rosse built the Great Telescope, his wife practiced photography and their son invented the steam turbine. Now, the interactive Science Centre takes you through the wonders of early photography, engineering and astronomy.
The Great Telescope, built in the early 1840s, is of particular interest and importance, as it was the largest telescope in the world, and with it, the third Earl of Rosse discovered the spiral nature of some of the galaxies.
Explore the town of Birr, with the Birr Town Trail and the Riverbank Walk, and with live theatre and performances at the Birr Theatre, a playground and Ireland’s largest treehouse at the Treehouse Adventure Area and riding lessons and cross-country treks with the Birr Equestrian Centre, there is fun for everyone!
For more information on Birr Castle and Gardens, visit their website here.