Ireland’s Hidden Gem
Offaly at the heart of Ireland welcomes the visitor to enormous tracts of wilderness, expanses of bogland, a vast mountain park, esker hills and deep wooded valleys with their streams and rivers. The majestic Shannon River defines its western boundary and the gently rolling hills of the Slieve Bloom Mountains, a national nature reserve, rise up in the east.
Tullamore is the county town and arguably the most central town in Ireland, located half way between Dublin and Galway. And of course any mention of Tullamore wouldn’t be complete without a word about the world-famous Tullamore Dew whiskey and it’s Visitor Centre at Bury Quay. The old distillery warehouse on the banks of the Grand Canal has been totally re-furbished and now houses an impressive Visitor Centre, where tour-guides entertain guests with a blend of history and storytelling, finished off with a complimentary glass of the beverage itself!
Full of history and hidden treasures, Offaly’s heritage is renowned, with castles such as Birr Castle and its beautifully landscaped grounds–home of the largest telescope in the world for over 70 years. Birr was designated a heritage town for its Georgian architecture, it also has an interesting early Christian monastic site and a medieval story to tell. Call into Birr library, a converted Pugin Church, to view a unique copy of the ninth century Mac Regol Gospels originating from the early Christian site at Birr.
Monastic Clonmacnoise, nominated for world heritage site and its ancient round towers and Celtic crosses offers a special space to feel history and rejuvenated. Less known, but of significant importance are Lemanaghan Monastic site, Seir Kieran, Rahan, and Birr.
For walkers, cyclists and lovers of the great outdoors, why not visit Lough Boora Discovery Park which has something for you. Featuring walking and biking trails that stretch from 3km to 16km, you enjoy an abundance of wild flowers and wild life along the way. This is also were art meets nature and you’ll see a series of 24 innovative sculptures that dramatically change the landscape.
Throughout the county cruising, equestrian, golfing, and fishing enthusiasts are well catered for. The Grand Canal transverses the county from Edenderry and joins the River Shannon at Shannon Harbour. Edenderry is a noted angling centre. The Shannon callows are of European importance for a number of bird species..
Offaly is a county of variety, open skies and welcoming people. Its sense of history and relaxed attitude makes visitors feel at home and free to enjoy rich journeys and refreshing experiences. Whether its the freedom found off the beaten track in natural bog lands and at ancient monastic and medieval heritage sites or meeting the locals in vibrant and sociable towns and villages, curious visitors and faithful pilgrims have returned for millennia to this crossroads of civilisation for space, friendship and revival.
Feel free as a bird as you gaze over magical landscapes in the quietest place in Ireland. A paradise for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages, you will enjoy and explore a surprisingly wide range of things to do from; boating on free flowing canals and the great river Shannon, to healthy hill walking in the Slieve Bloom mountains and cycling around the imaginative Lough Boora Discovery Park. Offaly is the place to switch off and find real peace, friendship, surprise and fun.
Easy to get to in the very centre of Ireland, Offaly provides many opportunities to enjoy breaks that can fill a day or two, an exciting getaway weekend or whole weeks of relaxation and surprising discoveries. Offaly offers something, anytime for everyone!