Built by the Anglo-Normans in 1170, Birr Castle in County Offaly was originally occupied by the O’Carroll family who resided there until 1580. The castle was then sold to the Ormond Butlers who lived in the castle until 1680, after which the Parsons family took residence.
During the Parsons’ occupation of the site, Sir Laurence Parsons built another castle on the 1,277-acre site, which is the castle that still stands today. Since the Parson’s occupation, the building has undergone lots of refurbishment, including the towers built either side of the castle.
William Parsons, son of Laurence Parsons, resided at Birr Castle and was responsible for the creation of the Great Telescope at Birr, the largest telescope in the world during this time. The telescope attracted thousands of visitors to the castle at the time and still does today.
Images courtesy of Failte Ireland.