The Birr Castle is believed to be built in 1170 and was ruled by the O’Carroll family. The castle and gardens are home to magnificent accomplishments of science, engineering, rare trees, flowers, wildlife and tranquil strolls along the rivers and lake. The castle itself is not open to the public, but the surrounding gardens of the defence are fully accessible 360 days a year, so be sure to check the opening hours! The gardens contain the oldest iron bridge in Ireland, which dates back to the 1800s.
The Box Hedges in the walled gardens surrounding the castle takes the spot as the tallest hedge in the world according to The Guinness Book of Records. The grounds are also home to Ireland’s Historic Science Centre, which is known for its huge contributions to astronomy and botany in Ireland.
Another attraction on the castle grounds is the Great Telescope or the ‘Leviathan of Parsonstown’. The telescope was used for many decades before the final observations were made in the late 20th century. A notable finding using the Great Telescope was the observation of the billion-year-old red dwarf star called CN Leo, which was calculated to be 75 trillion kilometres away.