Birr, Co. Offaly

Birr is one of Ireland's best examples of a Georgian Town. It is a virtually intact 18/19th century town, formal, spacious and well-planned, with Georgian houses along its tree-lined malls and avenues. Birr Castle has been the seat ot the Parsons family, Earls (an English title) of Rosse, for fourteen generations. Georgian architecture is accompanied by monuments to earlier Earls, including one to a great astronomer, who built what, at the time, was the world's largest telescope in the grounds of Birr Castle, which is now restored.

History of Birr

Birr is situated on the River Camcor. The placename "Birr" originated in an Irish Term probably used to describe this riverside position. In the past Birr was the kingdom of Ely O'Carroll, ruled for many centuries by the O'Carroll dynasty. There is evidence of prehistoric activity in the general area, but the first recorded evidence for a settlement at Birr dates to the 6th century A.D. when a monastery was founded here by St. Brendan of Birr. An important product of this monastery was the illuminated text known as the MacRegol Gospels, now in the Bodleian Library, Oxford. MacRegol, abbot, bishop and scribe of Birr, died about 820 A.D. An Anglo-Norman castle was built at Birr in 1208. Birr remained under Anglo-Norman control until the early 14th century when the Gaelic Irish O'Carroll dynasty began to re-establish themselves in Ely O'Carroll. The Black Castle at Birr became a major O'Carroll stronghold until the early 17th century. In the plantation of Ely O'Carroll in 1619, Sir Laurence Parsons was granted Birr Castle and 1,277 acres of land. The town of Birr, or Parsonstown as it became, developed under Sir Laurence's guidance. Birr Castle was besieged in 1643 and 1690, but the town emerged from the turbulent 17th century into a period of growth and renewal. From the mid 18th to early 19th centuries, Birr was enlarged in a number of phases. Emmet Square (1747) represented the earliest phase of Georgian Birr. Later phases produced Oxmantown Mall (c1816), Wilmer Road (c1817) and John's Mall (c1833). Besides its many fine buildings, Georgian Birr was characterised by a busy economic and social life. Birr remains in essence an extremely well preserved Georgian town. In the 19th century, Birr was a hive of scientific discovery. The 3rd Earl of Rosse built the giant telescope; his wife, the Countess Mary, was a pioneering photographer and their son, Charles Algernon Parsons invented the steam turbine engine. The town also gained fame as the venue for the first All-Ireland Hurling final in 1888.

On this page you can see a map of Birr, see what's on in Birr, find out how to get to Birr, find things to see and do in Birr, visit local websites for Birr, find Hotels in Birr, find Guesthouses in Birr, find Bed and Breakfasts (B&Bs) in Birr, browse restaurants in Birr.

Upcoming Events in Birr

Upcoming major events in Birr:

  • OFFline Film Festival 2014 (8 - 12 Oct 2014)
    Based in the Georgian midlands town of Birr, OFFline Film Festival is an exciting event for film lovers and makers alike. With Irish and international films being screened in a quirky array of venues around the town, all preceded by short films, audi

Bus to Birr

  • Bus routes operated by John Kearns:
    • Birr - Tullamore
    • Portumna - Dublin
    • Tullamore - Galway
  • Bus routes operated by Bus Eireann:
    • 323: Limerick - Killaloe - Newport - Nenagh - Borrisokane - Birr / Scariff - Killaloe - Nenagh
    • 72: Tralee - Limerick - Birr - Athlone

Things to See and Do in Birr

Birr Castle Demesne

Ireland's Historic Science Centre, Birr, Co. Offaly, Ireland
Ireland's Historic Science Centre contains astronomical instruments, cameras, photographs and photographic equipment used by the Third and Fourth Earls and Mary, Countess of Rosse, in the middle and late 1800s.

Birr Outdoor Education Centre

Co. Offaly, Ireland
The centre is located in the edge of Birr Town, on the Birr/Roscrea road. Just 10 minutes drive from the centre the Slieve Bloom Mountains provide a rich field of study for the historian, antiquarian, archaeologist, geologist and botanist. The Slieve Bloo

Hotels in Birr

County Arms Hotel Birr County Arms Hotel Birr

Moorpark, Birr, Co. Offaly
The luxurious County Arms Hotel is set on a 9-acre estate in Birr. There is a gourmet restaurant and the Springs Leisure Club has a pool, hot tub and Olympic-standard gym.

Dooly Dooly's Hotel

Emmet Square, Birr, Co. Offaly
Dating back to 1747, this historic coaching inn boasts an on-site coffee shop selling fresh pastries, home-cooked food, and afternoon tea. It also features its own nightclub, an award-winning restaurant, and free Wi-Fi.

Guesthouses in Birr

Townsend House Guest House Townsend House Guest House

Townsend Street, Birr, Co. Offaly
Set in a period building, Townsend House Guest House offers hearty breakfasts and cosy rooms with free Wi-Fi. The house is situated in Birr centre, just a 5-minute walk from Birr Castle.

Bed and Breakfasts (B&Bs) in Birr

Emmet House Emmet House

Emmet Square, Birr, Co. Offaly
Emmet House is a small boutique B&B located in Emmet Square, Birr, County Offaly. It offers rooms with flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi and home-cooked food. Birr Leisure Centre is a 5-minute walk away.

Minnocks Country Home Minnocks Country Home

Roscrea Rd., Birr, Co. Offaly
Minnocks Country Home near the historic Irish town of Birr offers bed and breakfast accommodation in a homely setting. There is private parking, free Wi-Fi and pleasant views across well-kept gardens and out to the Slieve Bloom Mountains.

Walcot Bed and Breakfast Walcot Bed and Breakfast

Rosse Row, Birr, Co. Offaly
Set in a restored Georgian townhouse, Walcot Bed and Breakfast is surrounded by an acre of mature gardens and features free on-site parking. Antique furnishings, an en suite bathroom and a TV are featured in each Walcot Room.

Restaurants in Birr

Brambles Cafe & Deli

Mill Street, Birr, Co. Offaly

Emma's Cafe and Deli offaly

31 Main Street, Birr, Co. Offaly

Emmet Room Restaurant @ Doolys Hotel Emmet Room Restaurant @ Doolys Hotel

Emmet Square, Birr, Co Offally, Co. Offaly
Dine in Style in the Award Winning Emmet Restaurant, our new "Taste of Italy" Menu allows you to taste all the delights of Italy while also enjoying our ever popular A La Carte Menu. With a wide selection of dishes to suit every palate and

Jade Palace (Offaly)

Townsend Street, Birr, Co. Offaly

Kong Lam

Market Square, Birr, Co. Offaly

Lavender Restaurant Lavender Restaurant

Cree, Birr, Co. Offaly
Lavenderhouse restaurant is a home away from home. It truly is a unique experience, the moment you arrive you are greeted by Kathleen you are invited into the sitting room where a large turf fire burns. Here you will receive our extensive menu with d

Monks Kitchen @ Kinnitty Castle Hotel Monks Kitchen @ Kinnitty Castle Hotel

Kinnitty, Birr, Co. Offaly

Morelli's Restaurant

Main Street, Birr, Co. Offaly

Spinners Town House

Castle Street, Birr, Co. Offaly

Stables Restaurant & Town House Stables Restaurant & Town House

6 Oxmantown Mall, Birr, Co. Offaly

The Dunkerrin Arms

Dunkerrin, Birr, Co. Offaly

The Stables Emporium & Town House The Stables Emporium & Town House

6 Oxmantown Mall, Birr, Co. Offaly
In 2005 The Stables diversified its business and opened a Home furnishings & gift store known as Emporium...at The Stables and continued to serve delicious food in the Georgian style Stables Tearooms. Here one can enjoy Coffees, scrumptious desse

The Sunrise Inn

Townsend Street (Tullamore Road), Birr, Co. Offaly

The Thatch Bar & Restaurant The Thatch Bar & Restaurant

Military Road, Crinkill, Birr, Co. Offaly

Tony's Takeaway and Restaurant

Connaught Street, Birr, Co. Offaly

Trilogy Restaurant & Bar Trilogy Restaurant & Bar

County Arms Hotel, Birr, Co. Offaly
Gourmet cuisine is central to the County Arms Hotel. Trilogy Bar & Brasserie offers a quality food and drink product in a charming setting. Trilogy uses many fresh ingredients from the County Arms Hotel gardens and greenhouses, including herbs, g

Whigsborough House

Five Alley, Birr, Co. Offaly

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Map of Birr