Birr Castle, Gardens & Science Centre
The Award-Winning Gardens of Birr Castle in Co.Offaly, Ireland and the newly revamped Science Centre are both rich in amazing feats of science and engineering as well as rare trees and flowers, wonderful wildlife, and walks along peaceful rivers and the lake. The Parsons family invite you to explore one of the most extraordinary places in Ireland. Created over generations, it is an environmental and scientific time capsule. Science In the early 1840’s, the Third Earl of Rosse designed and built the largest telescope in the world. With this telescope, he discovered the spiral nature of some of the galaxies, and from 1845-1914, anyone wishing to witness this phenomenon had to come to Birr. And they came, in their hundreds, from across Europe and beyond, to observe the stars with Lord Rosse or simply to marvel at this feat of engineering in the middle of Ireland. This Reflecting telescope remained the largest in the world for over 70 years and is arguably the largest historic scientific instrument still working today. This ‘leviathan’ as it is named, remains in the centre of the Demesne as Ireland’s greatest scientific wonder and represents a masterpiece of human creative genius. The Science centre demonstrates how the extraordinary telescope, now magnificently restored, was built in the castle workshops by the people of Birr. Scientific instruments are displayed, alongside interactive models to explain how they were used. Castle Birr Castle dates back to medieval times. There was a castle here built on a motte by the Anglo Normans. The gate tower of this led into the castle bawn and is now the centre of the present building. This central gate passage with its 12’ walls can be seen in the lower floor of the present building. The castle or fortress of Birr was re occupied by the O’Carrolls who held it until the 1580s when it was sold to the Ormond Butlers.