So the journey through the Emerald Isle continues. This week we travel deeper into the Irish midlands and arrive in county Offaly. A land of vast bogland, gentle waterways, fairytale castles and ancient heritage sites. It is also the ancestral home of one of America’s most famous citizens. We’ll drop by there later but I think we’ll start at one of Ireland’s most beautiful castles;
Since 1170 there has been a castle on this site and it was occupied by the ruling O Carroll family between the 14th and 17th centuries. Today it is the residence of the 7th Earl of Rosse. The stunning gardens are open to the public and feature 300 year old box hedges which are the tallest in the world. It also boasts the oldest wrought iron bridge in Ireland as well as a mammoth telescope which has been beautifully restored. It was constructed in 1845 and remained the biggest telescope on earth until the early 20th century.
This is a must see on any trip to Offaly and one of the most significant early Christian sites in Ireland. Perched on the banks of the River Shannon, it was founded by St. Ciaran in the 6th century. Here you can view the ruins of a cathedral, 7 churches, 2 round towers and the largest collection of early slab gravestones in Europe. There are also some of the finest examples of high crosses in the country.
These iconic Celtic monuments have influenced Irish art and jewelry design for centuries. Here’s a few of my favorites from The Irish Store.
This stunning sculpture by the renowned Mullingar Pewter pays homage to this ancient Irish monument using age old casting methods. A stand out piece of Irish art for any home.
This stunning Belleek Pottery Celtic cross hanging ornament features timeless Celtic knot designs and two beautifully hand painted shamrocks. The perfect gift from Ireland.
In this stunning Celtic Cross pendant the panels are created using ancient Connemara marble and eye-catching marcasite stones. Crafted and hallmarked in Dublin City.
Lough Boora Discovery Park
Lough Boora is a gem of place in the heart of county Offaly. There are numerous walking trails through this raised bog landscape where you can visit one of the most significant ancient Mesolithic sites in Ireland. Then there’s the stunning array of sculptures, inspired by the surrounding landscape and creating many awe-inspiring sights as art meets nature.
Croghan Hill is the remains of an extinct volcano situated in Bog Allen. The views from the top take in panoramic views of the surrounding counties and in 2003 an amazingly preserved body of a man from the Iron Age was discovered there. Old Croghan Man is now on display at the National Museum of Ireland.
The tiny village of Moneygall achieved international fame when it was discovered that Barack Obama’s great great great grandfather, Falmouth Keraney, hailed from there. As a nineteen year old shoemaker, he left Ireland on one of the many”coffin ships” and arrived in New York in March 1850. When the then 44th president of the United States visited Ireland with his wife Michelle in 2011, he just had to stop by his hometown and enjoy a pint of Guinness!
So there ends our trip to the wonderful county Offaly.
Have a great week,
See you next time,
Slán go fóill!