An afternoon in Birr and Birr Castle – County Offaly – Ireland

It was Sunday morning after the clocks went forward. We woke up and the sun was shining through the window. I was supposed to study but with the nice weather we could not sit inside. So we decided to drive to Birr, Co. Offaly in the early afternoon. Driving from Dublin by car takes about an hour and a half to Birr. Our plan was to visit Birr Castle.


From Dublin as I said it takes an hour and a half, from Cork two hours and from Galway around an hour and a quarter. From Dublin take the M4, then the M6 ​​to Tullamore and drive you inside Birr. You can also go via the M7 but that takes 10 minutes longer. The toll road from Dublin costs 2.90 euros one way.

Public transport

There isn’t a train station in Birr but is easy to get there by bus. Car hire is also an option if you fancy a getting there in your own time, it’s not prohibitively expensive and you can see more of the country that way. The road is also nice and quiet and therefore not too daunting if it’s your first time driving on the left.

You can explore your travel options on:

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County Offaly and Barack Obama

Birr is located in County Offaly. You may have heard ever of it because of a small village called Moneygall made famous by the visit of Barack and Michelle Obama in 2011. His ancestry was traced back to the village where he stopped for a pint of Guinness before making his way to Dublin for a state visit. A visitors center has been built in Moneygall since, to commemorate the day the President of the United States came to a small village in Irish midlands.


The village of Birr is about the best representation of an old Georgian town in Ireland. The village earliest Georgian style buildings date from the mid eighteenth century and are still there due to Birr being a designated Irish Heritage Town. Birr is a picturesque town with lots to see but the main attraction must surely be Birr Castle, which just a few minutes’ walk outside the town center.


We were there on a day trip but there are plenty of places to stay in Birr which is something we will avail of in the future. If you’d like to stay in the town center within walking distance of the castle you can book one of the following places.

• County Arms Hotel Birr
• The Malting’s B & B
• Emmet house

Birr Castle

 Birr Castle is the oldest inhabited home in the county. It was granted to a Sir Laurence Parsons as part of the Stuart plantation around 1620. Sir Laurence Parsons built most of the structure of the castle as it exists today.
The castle is to this day the home of Earls of Rosse. Brendan, 7th Earl of Rosse currently resides there.

The castle itself is not open to visitors aside from special occasions but the surrounding grounds are and have a number of activities and attractions. Speaking of which…

The Leviathan

The is a large telescope known as The Leviathan of Parsonstown. This was built by the 3rd Earl of Rosse and up until 1917 was the largest telescope in the world.

It is still an impressive feat of engineering and absolutely worth a visit.

 The Gardens

The award -winning gardens are home to the world’s tallest box hedges and rare plant life, the Leviathan of course, the historic science center and The Treehouse Adventure area featuring Ireland’s largest treehouse there also  sandpits and other activities for the children. You can even do a guided tour of the grounds in a horse drawn coach.  It is also a park for the whole family.

One comment

  1. Birr and Moneygall sounds both like nice places. Have to visit! I want to drink a pint in the same pub as Barack Obama did!

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