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A drive through County Offaly

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Birr, Offaly,

The bogs and mountains of Offaly placed it ' beyond the Pale ' - outside the dry and fertile land to the east which the Anglo - Normans had successfully colonised.

Touring County Offaly brings you to the very heart of Ireland. This route begins in the wonderful Georgian town of Birr where Birr Castle and Gardens, pictured below, is a major visitor attraction and Birr Vintage Week is a highlight of the summer festival calendar.

The N62 south will bring you just inside the Tipperary border to the Heritage Town of Roscrea, one of the oldest and most historic towns in the country. From here take the road north-east to Kinnitty to enjoy the walkers’ paradise of the Slieve Bloom Mountains, Ireland's most gentle mountains.

Follow the R421 to the lovely village of Cadamstown where the Silver River Nature Trail takes you through an ancient landscape. From Cadamstown go northwest to Tullamore, home of the great whiskey, Tullamore DEW. Travelling west through Kilcormac and Cloghan you come to the strategic river crossing of Shannonbridge. Just north is the holy site of Clonmacnoise situated right on the banks of the River Shannon. Clustered by the water's edge are round towers and high crosses, remnants of the ecclesiastical city that once thrived here during the Golden Age of the early Christian era.

On the journey south to Birr you can pop into Clonony Castle for a guided tour and spend a pleasant time in rural Banagher, a major centre for pleasure boats on the Shannon. Back in Birr you'll find excellent accommodation and restaurants.