Whether you are interested in historic sites, you love walking in nature, you like adventurous activities or you are travelling with your family, County Offaly has a lot to offer. Geraldine Poncin highlights the top activities that you could plan while visiting it.
10. Walk the Slieve Bloom Way
If you are an avid walker and you plan to stay in Offaly a bit longer and not just drive through it, you definitely should go to the Slieve Bloom Mountains. Located between Birr and Portlaoise, the mountains offer different trails that take up to 3 days to perform (60 kilometres circuit) or shorter walks (from 1 to 4 hours). The highest point is at 527 meters, but if you perform the complete 60 kilometres trail you can expect to climb a total of 1275 meters!
9. Eat at the Captain House Restaurant or the Bake House Cafe and Restaurant in Tullamore
After a day of exploring this amazing county, you will definitely be looking to treat yourself and Tullamore is the perfect place to do so! The city has a lot of coffee shops and restaurants but if you are looking for a top place, you could grab some food at the Captain House Restaurant.
Located on the main street, this restaurant serves succulent French and Irish cuisine, in an original setting with friendly staff. If you are not that hungry and looking for a smaller treat with a lower budget to spend, you could grab a delicious coffee and a nice cake or try the lunch of the day at the lovely Bake House Café on O’Connor Square (please note however that this place is only opened until 5pm).
8. Take a Walk in Clara Bog Nature Reserve
Explore Ireland most famous bog: wildflowers, distant hills views, watercourses and chirping birds. You will also be able to see dragonflies, butterflies, caterpillars and even some lizards if you are lucky. You can discover the 464 hectares by walk (dogs are allowed on a lead) or by bike.
7. Visit Clonmacnoise monastery
Overlooking the Shannon, Clonmacnoise is one of the most ancient monastic cities in Ireland. It was founded in 544! The site contains several churches, towers, majestic high crosses and graves. Start your visit through the Visitor Centre as it provides a lot of information about the ruins and the crosses’ iconography.
6. Take a Stroll along the Grand Canal
The Grand Canal from Dublin runs 64 kilometres through the villages of Edenderry, Daingean, Tullamore, Rahan, Pollagh and Belmont in County Offaly. A great way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon with the family and the dogs, discovering flora and fauna through the bogland.
5. Visit Charleville Castle
Charleville Castle is located just outside Tullamore. It is considered the best example of gothic architecture in Ireland. The building of the castle started in 1798 and took fourteen years to complete. It is better to call beforehand if you want to visit the castle as it hosts a number of events throughout the year, including fright nights during the Halloween period… apparently, the caste is believed to be haunted by a little girl called Harriett…
4. Visit Leap Castle
Another castle worth a visit in County Offaly. Leap Castle is located outside Roscrea. We don’t know for sure when it was built, somewhere between the 13th and the 16th century.
It is one of the most haunted castles in Ireland and its chapel is apparently the home to many spirits, as people visiting the castle and neighbours regularly report strange events, lights and smells. The castle is privately owned by the Ryans family, so it is recommended to call beforehand if you want to visit the inside.
3. Skydive in Clonbullogue
If you are an adventurer and looking for your adrenaline fix, County Offaly will be your paradise on earth as it is the home of the Irish Parachute Club. It is now time to remove this activity from your bucket list and register for a tandem skydive or if you dare, an accelerated freefall jump on your own – you will need to follow a full day training before performing the second one. The club was founded in 1956 and is located in Clonbullogue, just outside Edenderry.
2. Experience Birr Castle
If the weather is looking dry and sunny, it is the perfect moment to head to Birr castle. This majestic building was built in 1620 and is now a private home so you are not allowed to visit the inside. But you are welcome to visit its 50-hectare gardens, which are just magnificent.
You can easily spend half a day there, walking around and chilling among the nice flowers scent and various plants species. The Parsons family, who owns the castle, are scientist pioneers and during your visit, you will be able to have a look at a massive telescope that was built by William Parson in 1845. There is a children playground at the entrance/exit so Birr castle is definitely the perfect place to spend a lovely family afternoon out. Dog owners will also be delighted to know that dogs are allowed on a lead in the castle grounds.
1. Visit Tullamore Distillery
If castles and walks are not your thing, but instead you love good whiskey, Tullamore Dew is your place to be in County Offaly. You will get a world-class tour experience and you will learn the production secrets of this legendary whiskey, and you will also be able to taste it in case you are not familiar with it yet. There is also a nice restaurant where you can enjoy fine food in an environment shaped by history.