Home to the Earls of Rosse since 1620, Birr Castle is the Private Home of Brendan, the 7th Earl and his Family. As such the House itself is not open to the public. The Award winning Gardens and buildings in the grounds of Birr Castle house an array of unique plants, not to mention a detailed insight into the History of the Parsons family.
A stay at the County Arms Hotel is not complete without a visit to Birr Castle & Gardens. The Great Telescope, designed by the 3rd Earl or Rosse, was the largest in the World for 70 years and is now fully restored. Ireland's Historic Science Centre offers a fascinating insight into the History of this pioneering Family, with particular emphasis on Astronomy, Photography and Botany. The Gardens at Birr Castle Demesne are home to some 4,000 named trees many of which are unqiue to Ireland, having been carefully preserved and cultivated following trips to China and other exotic regions.
MACREGOL'S GOSPELS (THE BOOK OF BIRR) - Walking Distance 3 mins
The Macregol Gospel Book is a manuscript copy of the Four Gospels written in Birr by Macregol (Bishop of Birr) circa 800 AD. It is unclear how the manuscript came to be in England but towards the end of the tenth century two clerics, Farman and Owun inserted a translation into the Old English of that time. It is therefore a valuable source for the history of the English language. In 2006, Birr Historical Society, courtesy of the Bodleain Library, Oxford and thanks to the generosity of local people and of friends, obtained a facsimile of the Macregol Gospels to be freely on display in Birr Town Library.
BIRR CHILDREN'S PLAYGROUND - Walking Distance 3 mins
Immediately nextdoor to Birr Library, housing the Book of Birr, this playground is newly opened in 2006 and features some of the most modern and safe equipment in Ireland. An ideal way to spend an hour or two for Children aged between 3 and 12 years.
BIRR THEATRE & ARTS CENTRE - Walking Distance 15 mins
Birr Theatre and Arts Centre - Offaly's centre for the Arts - offers a wide variety of theatre and artistic events throughout the year. Enjoy an evening of music, drama, dance, opera, classical music, comedy and lots more. See website for current programme of events www.birrtheatre.com
ATTRACTIONS WORTH DRIVING FOR!
LOUGH BOORA PARKLANDS - 20 mins - The most inspiring visitor attraction in Ireland's midlands - Lough Boora has it all. One of the most advanced wetland reserves in the Country with over 130 species of birds including Ireland's only remaining Grey Partdridge. Lough Boora is even better known for the Sculpture Park which must be seen to be believed. There's also walking trails, cycle paths, picnic area, a mesolithic site and lots more planned including a major visitor attraction for all the family - Visit www.LoughBooraParklands.com
MONASTIC RUINS AT CLONMACNOISE - 25 MINS - BEST PRESERVED MONASTIC RUINS IN IRELAND c700AD
SLIEVE BLOOM MOUNTAINS - 10 Mins from Birr in Kinnitty Village - Ideal for those who seek the tranquillity of an unspoilt landscape, the Slieve Bloom Mountains provide the perfect setting for a cycle, drive or walk. For the more adventurous the 66km Slieve Bloom Way passes remarkably deep glens and beautiful waterfalls. A well sign-posted network of minor roads gives access to a whole host of forested & wooded glens. Tours guides, walking maps and walking programme all available on request www.slievebloom.ie
PALLAS KARTING/Go Karting Ireland - 20-25 mins to Portumna onto Tynagh in East Galway. Europe's Largest and best outdoor Kart & Cnetre with advances 1500 m track, 85kph Thunderkarts. Plus have Splatball - offers and great packages availble for hens and stags too.
TULLAMORE DEW HERITAGE CENTRE - 30 MINS - OLD-TIME WHISKEY DISTILLERY & HERITAGE CENTRE
LARRY'S OLD TIME VILLAGE - 15 MINS DRIVE - MODEL VILLAGE DEPICTS IRELAND FROM 1900's
FURTHER AFIELD - ON THE WAY OR ON THE WAY HOME!
ROCK OF CASHEL - 1 HOUR FROM BIRR ON WAY TO / FROM CORK OR WATERFORD - 1 OF IRELAND'S MAJOR HIGHLIGHTS
NATIONAL STUD & JAPANESE GARDENS - 1 HOUR FROM BIRR ON WAY TO / FROM DUBLIN, JUST OFF M7 IN KILDARE
THE BURREN - 90 MINS FROM BIRR ON WAY TO / FROM SHANNON & CLARE - A MUST SEE
GALWAY CITY - 75 MINS FROM BIRR - Ireland's Cultural Capital, Enjoy Galway Race Week or Galway Arts Festival