A blend of Georgian squares and tree-lined malls, this is a “heritage town” of well-preserved 18th-century architecture. Birr is often considered to be in the exact centre of Ireland, making it convenient to travel to/from all directions. With tree-lined avenues and Georgian Houses, Birr is a town with much character.
Initially a monastic town from the 12th century when St. Brendan of Birr founded a monastery, it was in the 13th century that, like so many other towns, it became a Norman town. During the Plantations of 1620, the estate, including the castle, were given to the Parsons in whose hands the estate still remains after 14 generations. Birr Castle is today the oldest inhabited dwelling in County Offaly
In Birr Castle there are 100-acre gardens and a six-foot reflecting telescope, the gardens are filled with more than 1,000 species of trees and shrubs and the fairy-tale like Treehouse playground is a must-see. The world’s tallest box hedges are also in the gardens, currently standing at 12 meters high.
In the castle grounds is the world famous telescope. Completed in 1845, scientists and astronomers from all over the world came to use the telescope. It remained the largest in existence for 75 years. The telescope was used in the mapping of the moon.
On site is the I-LOFAR Education Centre which welcomes students to learn about the fascinating engineering and science of Ireland’s newest radio telescope. This compliments the existing Science Visitor Centre at Birr Castle
Birr is home to a vibrant festival and arts scene, with the Birr Vintage Week, Irish Hot Air Ballooning Championships, OFFline Film Festival and Birr Arts Festival among the highlights of a packed annual calendar.