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See and Do at Tullamore

See and Do

Rolling green fields, waterside wonders and deeply rooted heritage – the past has never felt so present along this stretch of the Grand Canal. Take it all in from Tullamore town…

There’s so much to see and do as you follow the Grand Canal from Kildare to Tullamore in County Offaly. Grand houses pepper the landscape offering amazing insights into the past with guided tours and awesome architecture. Castles come in all shapes and sizes and serve up an array of spooky tales, scientific discoveries and sensational overnight stays. And traces of the area’s incredible monastic past lie within rolling green fields. From the captivating buzz of Tullamore, with its whiskey heritage, great restaurants and elegant architecture, to the russet-toned boglands, sloping mountains and serene waters of the Grand Canal, this part of Ireland is a perfect blend of old and new.

Castletown House, County Kildare
Built in 1722, Castletown House is Ireland’s first and largest Palladian-style manor, with a grand location amidst vast parklands in Celbridge, County Kildare. This magnificent house was built by William Conolly, speaker of the Irish House of Commons, and, at the time, the richest man in Ireland. Guided tours bring visitors through the estate’s history, exploring the unique Print Room, the opulent Long Room and fascinating collections of ornate furniture, paintings and period clothing. Make sure to keep some time to wander around the beautiful estate where woodland trails weave across 540 acres.

Charleville Castle, County Offaly
Hidden in the midst of an ancient woodland on the edge of Tullamore town lies Charleville Castle. Once home to Charles William Bury, Earl of Charleville, this Gothic-style fortress holds over 200 years of history, including grand balls, tragic deaths and devastating fires. It’s been slowly restored thanks to the efforts of volunteers along with current owners, the Vance family. Pre-book a guided tour of this 18th century beauty and climb the grand oak staircase to the magnificent Ball Room, charming Music Room, and the round tower, which once hosted the ladies’ Powder Room. The intricate ceilings, exquisite woodwork and eerie ghost stories are sure to leave you speechless.


Tullamore D.E.W. Heritage Centre, Tullamore
Get a taste for Tullamore’s liquid legacy on a tour of Tullamore D.E.W. Heritage Centre. Sitting on the banks of the Grand Canal, this 19th century warehouse has been lovingly restored to its original state as the founding home of Tullamore D.E.W. whiskey. Learn about creator Daniel E. Williams who rose from stable boy to distillery manager and how his golden blend became world renowned. Your guide will let you in on the secrets of whiskey making, and at the end of the tour you'll be treated to a glass of this famous triple-distilled, triple-blended brew.

Birr Castle & Gardens, County Offaly
Sprawling formal gardens, the art of star gazing and a grand castle – Birr Castle is a must-see. After all, this is the home of the “Leviathan” – once the world's largest telescope. Back in the early 1840s, the third Earl of Rosse designed this giant and attracted visitors from all over the world to marvel at it – and they still do to this day. Stop by the Science Centre for visual-audio insight into the galaxies and take a guided tour of the castle during the summer months when the 7th Earl of Rosse opens his doors to visitors.

Durrow Monastic Site, County Offaly
Offaly was once home to an exquisite illuminated manuscript known as the Book of Durrow. Fit to rival the famous Book of Kells, this amazing medieval gospel is now housed in Trinity College, but it is thought to have been created at the 6th century monastic site of Durrow Abbey. Founded by St Colmcille in 550, the monastery flourished in the Early Christian era, and although little longer remains, its legacy lives on. Step inside the modest St Colmcille’s Church where the impressive High Cross of Durrow is located, and wander through nearby the wooded glen to see the holy well –  its waters are said to have healing powers…

Leap Castle, County Offaly
Those who are brave at heart should set their sights on Leap Castle. Built in the early 1500s by the brutal O’Carroll clan on what was said to be an ancient druidic site, its gruesome history involves massacres, murders and horrific torture. Current owner, Sean Ryan, spooks visitors with tales of the castle’s spirits by a roaring fire under candlelight. Enter the Bloody Chapel and you may feel the presence of a long-dead priest, slaughtered on the alter by his own brother. And if you happen upon a reeking stench you may have met the terrifying evil spirit known as the "Elemental”. The castle is open to visitors on request, so phone ahead and expect the unexpected!

Lough Boora Parklands, County Offaly
Art imitates life in the ancient boglands of Offaly’s Lough Boora Parklands. This carefully conserved region dates back 10,000 years, and traces of its Mesolithic past can be seen to this day. A natural haven, its perfect for walkers and cyclists alike and no matter the path you take, the dramatic artwork placed around the park and its lakes are sure to catch your eye. Paying homage to human's relationship with the bog, artists carved sculptures with locomotives, rail-line and timber allowing nature to claim and tarnish the pieces in vivid rusty shades.

Clara Bog Nature Reserve, County Offaly
Clara Bog Nature Reserve dates back thousands of years, and was forged by glaciers during the Ice Age. Today, it’s hard to imagine those hulks of ice when faced with waves of vivid heather scattered amongst this rare raised bogland. Situated just outside the town of Clara in County Offaly, the 1km-long boardwalk meanders through this ancient terrain, where you could easily spot Ireland’s only native land reptile – the viviparous lizard – sunning itself on the pathway. Dragonflies buzz past and the bird calls of curlew, snipe and skylarks hang in the air as the bogland stretches out as far as the eye can see.

Kinnitty Castle Hotel, County Offaly
Deep in the heart of the Slieve Bloom mountains, Kinnitty Castle Hotel is a sight to behold. A masterpiece of Gothic-revival architecture, it sits on a 10,000-acre estate beneath the Slieve Blooms, where it’s not uncommon to spy fallow deer and wild goats wandering through the woodland. Tuck into gourmet meals by candlelight at Sli Dara Restaurant or indulge in Afternoon Tea during the day. For an old-world feel, dine in the Dungeon Bar and enjoy a live traditional music session.

Rock of Dunamase, County Laois
Having started off as a Christian settlement before becoming a fortress for Anglo-Norman invaders, the Rock of Dunamase is a popular spot for visitors thanks in part to its stunning views of the verdant County Laois landscape. Legends of buried treasure and a fearsome hellhound are just some tall tales associated with this towering limestone structure. It’s claimed that the castle itself was presented to Norman Lord Strongbow upon his marriage to Aoife, daughter of the King of Leinster.

Emo Court, County Laois
It's hard to imagine a time when the tranquillity of Laois’ Emo Court was punctuated by the yells of the 1798 Rebellion and the War of Independence. The Earls of Portarlington who once resided here are long gone but their legacy remains in this glorious 18th century estate. Visitors can enjoy a fascinating guided tour of this beautifully restored neo-classical mansion. Be sure to take a stroll around the grounds afterwards and enjoy woodland walks, lush gardens and the beauty of its huge 20-acre lake.

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