LOCAL ATTRACTIONS & THINGS TO DO
Located in Birr, County Offaly, in the very heart of Ireland, the County Arms Hotel is an ideal base to explore all the Midlands has to offer. Whether you are on a family hotel break, group stay or visiting as a couple, we’ve picked out some of our top local attractions and things to do to help you plan your visit!
On arrival, our Reception staff are always happy to help and give recommendations for things to do and places to visit, as well as advise on any discounts or special packages available on local attractions and activities. Just ask!
When you stay with us, the picturesque heritage town of Birr is just on your doorstep. The town grew around Birr Castle estate, home of the Earls of Rosse. Birr town is distinctly Georgian, with tree-lined streets and many elegant houses and buildings dating back to that era. Explore the town’s history and beauty on the Birr Town Trail or Riverbank Walk, both just over 1km in length.
Birr Castle, Gardens & Science Centre
Whether visiting as a couple, with kids, or with a group, a visit to the magnificent Birr Castle, Gardens & Science Centre must be on your list! Located just 10 minutes’ walk from the hotel, there’s 120 acres of parkland to explore, including waterfalls, treehouse, playground, and of course the Science Centre and The Great Telescope. Castle tours take place during the summer months. The gardens at Birr Castle Demesne are home to 4,000 trees, many of which are unique to Ireland and were collected from around the world. There’s also a café and gift shop on-site.Visit Birr Castle
MacGregol's Gospels (The Book of Birr)
For history and art enthusiasts, pay a visit to view a manuscript copy of MacGregol’s Gospels, also known as The Book of Birr. Around 800AD, a scribe named Mac Regol wrote and illuminated a manuscript that is now recognised as a unique and important work of art. The original is in the Bodleian Library in Oxford, but a copy of the extraordinary manuscript is now on display in Birr Town Library, located just 3 minutes’ walk from the hotel.
Birr Theatre & Arts Centre, Co Offaly
For arts and culture fans, there’s the Birr Theatre and Arts Centre just 15 minutes’ walk from the hotel. It’s Offaly's centre for the arts and offers a programme of theatre and cultural events throughout the year. Enjoy an evening of music, drama, dance, opera, classical music, comedy, and lots more. See their website for the current programme of events.Visit Birr Theatre
SPORTS & ACTIVITIES
If you are looking for sports and activities while staying with us, you’ll find everything you need in Offaly and the Midlands, including championship golf courses, walking trails through the beautiful Slieve Bloom Mountains, bike trails, paintballing, fishing, watersports, and much more! Ideal for group stays, tours, and hen and stag parties, seeking fun adventure activities in the heart of the Midlands. Here are some of our top recommendations for families, groups, and couples.
Birr is the perfect location for golfers thanks to our central location, just two hours’ drive from Galway, Limerick, and Dublin. Whether golfing with a partner or a group, you are only a short drive away from many excellent championship golf courses. What’s more, we have negotiated some special packages and reduced Green Fee Rates for groups with our partners. Contact Reception to find out more.
Cycling & Bike Trails
Bring your own bike and store it in our secure Bike Room or rent a leisure bike from us to explore the local area on two wheels! There are many mapped cycling routes to explore, suitable for cyclists of all abilities and fitness levels. Adrenaline junkies seeking adventure will love to visit Bike Park Ireland at Fairymount Farm, just 15 minutes’ drive away over the border in Tipperary. The centre has numerous mountain bike trails, with facilities for kids too. Visit Bike Park Ireland.
Walking & Hiking
Birr is an ideal location to base yourself to explore the great outdoors on foot. There are many beautiful, mapped walking routes available in the area, with trails suitable for different abilities and fitness levels. The highlights are of course the Slieve Bloom Mountains and Lough Boora Parklands - look out for the Sculpture Park too. Experienced hikers will love the challenge of the Offaly Way, linking the Slieve Bloom Mountains with the ancient monastic site at Lemanaghan. For a gentle stroll, you’ll find two urban walking trails right here in Birr, both about 1km in length – the Riverbank Walk and the Birr Town Trail. Laminated, colour walking maps are available from Reception, just ask.
Waterways & Watersports
Love the water? There are numerous river cruises available like the 'King of the River' memorable lunch cruise from Shannon to Portumna with tour operator Joe O'Keeffe. Or arrive at Clonmacnoise like the Vikings on the 50-seater River Queen cruise! Try your hand at watersports at Terryglass and Lough Derg. Nearby Birr Outdoor Education Centre also offers many activities for groups, including canoeing and raft building.
Pallas Karting, Paintball and Splatball
Pallas Karting is Europe's largest karting centre and is only about 30 minutes’ drive away from our hotel. Ideal for a fun day out with friends or colleagues, or for hen and stag parties. Facilities include a 500m beginners track, a 1500m advanced track, and a 2200m rally track. There’s also paintball and splatball on site, with four specially designed Game Zones for beginners and the more experienced.
More Group Activities
The County Arms Hotel is an ideal base for group stays and activity-based breaks with other popular activities in the area including clay pigeon shooting at Esker, abseiling, and gorge walking with Birr Outdoor Education Centre, and even battlefield sports with Noel at Birr Equestrian Centre.
Situated in the heart of Ireland, our hotel is a great base to explore so much of the surrounding counties. Get in the car and take a longer trip with our top recommendations for things to do, from vibrant cities to historic castles and acres of parkland to explore!
Slieve Bloom Mountains
The Slieve Bloom Mountains are only a short drive away from the hotel and offer many opportunities for leisure in a wild, unspoilt landscape. Take a drive through for breath-taking views or explore by bike or by foot with the many tracks and trails available. For the more adventurous, there’s the 66km Slieve Bloom Way that passes through deep glens and by beautiful waterfalls. A well sign-posted network of minor roads give access to many forested and wooded glens. Walking maps and programmes are all available from Reception on request.
Portumna Castle & Gardens
Portumna Castle & Gardens is situated in a magnificent location on the shores of Lough Derg on the River Shannon close to the Galway border with Tipperary. Take a tour of the castle and explore the gardens and parkland, as well as the ruins of a Dominican Friary.
Lough Boora Discovery Park
Get away from it all and discover acres of grasslands, lakes, and wetlands at this top Midlands attraction. Explore 50km of trails, natural re-colonisation, and pastureland, which provide a new habitat for the park’s biodiversity. The Sculpture Park is also not to be missed. Ideal for family day outs. Visit Lough Boora Discovery Park.
Rock of Cashel
One of Ireland’s most spectacular tourist attractions, it was originally the seat of the kings of Munster and is located one hour’s drive from our hotel. Set on a dramatic outcrop of limestone in the Golden Vale, the Rock of Cashel is the site of an impressive cluster of medieval buildings including a round tower, high cross, Romanesque chapel, Gothic cathedral, an abbey, the Hall of the Vicars Choral and a fifteenth-century Tower House. Visit Rock of Cashel.
Irish National Stud & Japanese Gardens
Explore the beauty and peace of the Irish National Stud’s Japanese Gardens, renowned throughout the world and the finest of their kind in Europe. The gardens were created between 1906 and 1910 with the aim to symbolise the ‘Life of Man’ through trees, plants, flowers, lawns, rocks, and water.
Monastic Ruins at Clonmacnoise
Visit Clonmacnoise and discover the spectacular monastic ruins on the banks of the River Shannon, dating back to 544AD.
Tullamore Dew Heritage Centre
Visit the home of Tullamore Dew and take a tour of the whiskey distillery and heritage centre.