Birr Castle Demesne & Historic Science Centre
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Birr Castle Demesne, Birr, Offaly,
Ms. Alicia Parsons
Birr Castle Demesne is a wonderful experience for the whole family. Located in the town of Birr in Co Offaly, it features extensive gardens as well as Ireland’s Historic Science Centre and the great telescope—known as the Leviathan—of the 1840s.
Birr Castle Demesne and Ireland’s Historic Science Centre offers a combination of fun, relaxation and discovery to all who visit. Featuring award-winning gardens and set in Birr, one of Ireland’s beautiful Georgian heritage towns, Birr Castle is steeped in scientific history and rich in Irish architectural heritage.
Located in County Offaly, Birr Castle Demesne is the home of the Parsons family, descended from the Earl of Rosse. Fifteen generations of the Parsons family have lived at Birr, beginning with Sir Laurence Parsons, who took possession of a gatehouse on the site in 1620 and fortified it against several sieges. While the residential areas of the castle remain private, the grounds and gardens of the demesne are accessible to visitors.
Birr Castle Demesne is known for the beauty of its gardens, which were originally landscaped around the lake by Sir William Parsons in the 18th century. Over the course of future generations of the Parsons family, the demesne would develop further and feature the first garden in Ireland to receive specimens of dawn redwood after its discovery in China in 1945.
The gardens of Birr Castle Demesne come alive in spring with flowering bulbs and a vast Magnolia collection. The demesne includes formal gardens with old roses, wisteria and the world’s tallest box hedges, some of which are over 300 years old. Outdoor terraces offer stunning views of the castle and are vibrant with colour in the summer, while water features abound at Birr Castle; a waterfall, lakes and rivers are yours to discover throughout the property.
Explore Ireland’s Historic Science Centre, which includes a café and shop, and view the Great Telescope, built in the early 1840s by the Third Earl of Rosse and still functioning today. When completed in 1845, the Birr Castle Great Telescope was the largest telescope on earth, capable of capturing more light and seeing further into space than any telescope had done before.
Visit Birr Castle Demesne to find fun activities for the whole family against the backdrop of a truly historic Irish family residence.