Here’s ten great ideas to put on your wishlist for your next visit to Offaly.
Sixty minutes from Dublin in the pretty Georgian heritage town of Birr, Birr Castle is a 16th Century medieval fortress in an impressive, sprawling estate. Take a stroll past the lakes and waterfall in the award-winning Birr Castle Gardens, which really come to life in spring. Kids will adore the Treehouse Adventure Area, featuring the country’s largest treehouse. Afterwards, enjoy a bite to eat at the cute Courtyard Cafe.
Birr Castle Demesne is also home to The Historic Science Centre where you can discover more about the wonders of early photography, engineering and astronomy and see the Great Telescope - the largest telescope in the world when it was completed in 1845.
Setting off from the town of Banagher, voyage through the serene waterways of the River Shannon and Lough Derg with Waveline Cruisers. From angling and water-skiing to horse riding and golf, there are plenty of activities to try and restaurants to stop off at along the shore, as you travel through places like Killaloe, Carrick-on-Shannon and Athlone and the legendary Clonmacnoise.
Just half an hour away, Visit one of Ireland’s most famous and ancient monastic settlements at Clonmacnoise. Nestled on the banks of the River Shannon the site was founded in the 544 and is rich with ruins of round towers, a cathedral, churches and high crosses. Seek out the Whispering Door of the ruined cathedral which, according to legend, is the place where lovers came to whisper their true feelings to one another.
After you’ve explored Clonmacnoise, pay a visit to Killeen’s Pub and Tackle Shop, just a 10-minute drive away in Shannonbridge. Killeen’s is as authentic as Irish pubs get, complete with a requisite grocery store that sells everything from bread to fishing rods. Enjoy a delicious plate of fish and chips and a tipple or two, set to the soundtrack of the finest trad musicians Offaly has to offer.
On your way to Tullamore, it’s well worth a stop at Lough Boora Discovery Park; home to a huge exhibition of outdoor sculptures created by Irish artists set out along the 3km Lough Boora Sculpture Loop Walk.
Another 20 minutes down the road, spend a few hours discovering the world of Irish craft whiskey at the famous Tullamore D.E.W Distillery. Although the name conjures up visions of misty Irish mornings, it’s called after its creator Daniel E. Williams. The new visitor centre overlooks the serene banks of the Tullamore Grand Canal and daily tours allow visitors a peek behind the curtain, to see how the legendary Irish liquor is created.
There are endless walking routes to discover in the lush green valleys of the Slieve Bloom Mountains — one of the oldest peaks in Europe. Perfect for ramblers looking for gentle terrain, The Slieve Bloom Way has 17 looped walks, from one to four hours long through forest trails, heathery ridges, beautiful glens and hidden landscapes.
If you’re after a more challenging walk, set off from the charming village of Cadamstown on The Offaly Way, taking in the rich scenery along the 29km trek. The route links the Slieve Bloom Way to the Grand Canal Way, so walkers have to option to trail off and discover other loops. The extraordinary views of the Silver River are, quite literally, worth the trek.
Our peatlands are such an important part of our Irish landscape and culture and Offaly plays an important part in the story. Immerse yourself in the history of your homeland by visiting the Clara Bog, just 15-minutes from Tullamore. Follow the timber boardwalk through the nature reserve, home to many protected wildlife species and stop by the Clara Bog Visitor Centre to find out more about this impressive place.
There’s so much to discover in the green fields of County Offaly, so make sure you check out our Offaly destination page to get the most out of this tranquil county.
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