Birr castle is only a short drive from The Bridge House Hotel in Tullamore and is open all year round. The gardens at the castle are truly unique and home to the world’s tallest box hedges, beautiful pathways of hornbeam cloister. These amazing gardens in Birr castle demesne are not to be missed. Best known for the unparalleled beauty of the gardens, the grounds are home to an impressive plant collection with rare species from around the world, including over 40 champion trees of the British Isles.
The castle grounds are also home to Ireland's Historic Science Centre, a museum of Ireland's historic scientists and their contributions to astronomy and botany and contain the oldest wrought-iron bridge in Ireland dating from 1820. The interactive museum reveals the wonders of early photography, engineering, and astronomy, with a special emphasis on the Third Earl’s Great Telescope, a leviathan creation that remained the largest in the world for over 70 years. It was constructed in the 1840’s and the telescope looks and moves just as it did over 150 years ago. Demonstrations are held daily. There are regular events and exhibitions that take place in at the Birr castle demesne. Click here for further information.
The Great Telescope
The Great Telescope is located at the heart of Birr Castle Demesne. It was built in the early 1840’s by the third earl of Rosse who designed and constructed this masterpiece which was the world’s largest telescope for 70 years. Astrologists and astrology lovers from all over the world travelled in their droves to see the great telescope. The science centre at the castle demonstrates how the telescope was built by the people of Birr along with other scientific instruments. The great telescope of Birr is arguably the largest historic scientific instrument still working in the world today! Click here for further information.
Listed as a UNESCO World heritage centre Clonmacnoise is well worth the visit. It is enchantingly situated on the banks of the River Shannon and with a unique assemblage of Celtic crosses and ancient sculptures, a round tower and the ruins of medieval churches intrigues its visitors instantaneously.
Its origins date back to the mid-6th century. The original high crosses and grave slabs are on display in the Visitor Centre. Buried here is the last High King of Ireland - Rory O'Çonnor. It enjoyed a thousand years of fame as a place of pilgrimage and interest was revived when Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass there in 1979. The Bridge House Hotel Offaly is located less than 40 minutes away from this world famous heritage site.
Belvedere House Gardens and Park is a magnificent parkland estate comprising of 160 acres on the shores of Lough Ennel in the Irish Midlands. A fascinating Georgian estate open year round with a varied calendar of events including Narnia at Christmas and family events at Easter and Halloween. There is an animal Sanctuary and Children's Play Area, and also a delightful tram which provides guided tours around a section of the parkland on selected days throughout the year. The Victorian Walled Garden at Belvedere consists of a one and a half acre sloped garden with Thomas Messenger style glasshouse. The Garden is a feast for the senses with tumbling herbaceous borders, old rose garden, fragrant herb garden and vegetable potager. At the end of the Victorian Garden is a new area The Enchanted Glen a secret Faery Garden hidden away from prying eyes. Several follies adorn the landscape including Ireland's largest folly, The Jealous Wall. Click here for further information.
Charleville is Ireland's finest gothic revival castle. It is located in Ireland’s most ancient primordial oak woods once the haunting grounds of Irelands druids. It is considered to be Francis Johnston's masterpiece, who also designed the G.P.O in Dublin. The castle was built between 1798 and 1810 and is one of county Offaly’s hidden treasures.
It plays hosts to various festivals and events throughout the year and the castle has been featured in some films over the last decade. Click here for further information.