Built shortly circa 1620 when the lands were granted to Sir Laurence Parsons, Birr Castle is today home to the 7th Earl of Rosse. As it is a residence, it is not open to the public, however, guided tours can be booked by prior arrangement. The gardens, and the Historic Science Centre, including the great telescope are open to the public.
William Parsons, the 3rd Earl of Rosse was responsible for the construction of the great telescope at Birr. It was completed in 1845, and was the largest telescope in the world at that time. With its 183cm (72") reflector it could capture more light and see deeper into space than other telescopes, and became a focus for astronomical observations by visitors from all over the world, including Charles Babbage and Napoléon Eugène. Using this telescope he discovered the spiral nature of the galaxies. The 4th Earl of Rosse, Lawrence Parsons, is credited with measuring the heat of the moon.
Visitors to the Historic Science Centre can view astronomical instruments, cameras and photographs dating back to the mid 1800s. They can also view a reconstruction of the great telescope.
Birr Castle also has formal gardens, with features, borders and hedges planted by Anne, Countess of Rosse in the 1940s. There are walking paths taking in the gardens, wildflower meadows, lake, rivers and woodlands, with numerous wildlife species to be seen at various times of the year, including herons, swans, ducks, kingfishers, otters, and squirrels.
And the best part, at least for the children, is the largest treehouse in the country. It comes complete with towers and sand pits. A bouncy pillow is open in the afternoons during the summer period (parents must complete a permission form).
Birr Castle Demesne is located on the western edge of Birr town. Click the map pin icon to view the location on a map.
For more details, including admission prices and opening times, click the "More info" button below.