Birr Castle, Gardens & Science Centre
Birr Castle, Gardens & Science Centre is still privately owned by the Parsons family. It features a castle that is still in use by the family and gorgeous Award-Winning Gardens and a science centre. There are rare trees, flowers, wildlife and walkways that meander along the rivers and the lake.
In addition, the grounds feature a wonderful courtyard cafe and they even have cottages for rent if you would like to stay on the grounds. The village of Birr is also a very quaint little town that is worth a visit.
At one time in history Birr Castle was a hub of scientific innovation. The castle is known for its giant telescope which in the early 1840’s was the largest telescope in the world.
Tours of the castle are only available during certain times of the year but the grounds and gardens are well worth the visit. Birr is about 1 hour and 48 minutes west of Dublin. It makes for a nice day trip. We spent several hours here so plan on spending a good portion of the day here.
The current head of the family is the Seventh Earl of Ross Brendan Parsons. The castle fortress was built in the 11th century and was acquired by the Parsons in 1620. You can tour the castle at specific times from May until the end of August. Tour information can be found on the official Birr Castle site here.
Within the garden walls are many rare plants that have been collected by the Earls of Ross on their travels over the past 150 years. The tallest box hedges in the world can be found within the 50 hectares of land here. You can find over 40 champion trees and 2000 species of plants. A lake, river and waterfalls will also help to create this unique atmosphere. 3 generations of the Parsons family have collected the plant material that makes all of this possible.
The Great Telescope
Birr castle has been the hub of scientific engineering since the 1800’s. The Third Earl built the Great Telescope and their son Charles Parsons invented the steam turbine which changed seafaring and led to the invention of the jet engine.
The telescope was built in the 1840’s by the Third Earl of Rosse. He discovered the spiral nature of galaxies and this was the only location in the world from 1845-1914 to witness such a phenomenon. This reflecting telescope was the largest in the world for over 70 years and is most likely the largest working scientific instrument today.
Within the castle walls is a science centre that shows how this telescope was restored along with other scientific instruments of the period with interactive models to show how they were used.
There is so much land to explore here that I cannot imagine what it takes to upkeep the grounds. Below are some photos of several beautiful areas within the castle walls.
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