Getaways with Kids publisher, April Drew, and her family recently visited Birr Castle and Gardens, one sunny Sunday afternoon in July. Here are her top 5 reasons that you MUST add this stunning historic location to your list of family visits.
- The Coolest Playground (with the largest Tree House in Ireland)
Despite trying to leave the playground until the very last hour of our visit, when we walked into the gardens it was the first thing my three children saw and we couldn’t drag them away, and for good reason. This playground rocked. It had the usual climbing frames, slides and swings but the magic here was Ireland’s largest Tree House. The kids spent over an hour exploring this magnificent structure, even our three year old. (the official line is they should be 6 or over). The Treehouse Adventure Area is open from 9.00 until 18:00 daily in the summer and until 16:00 from Oct – Jan.
- The Great Telescope
It blew our minds to see this gigantic telescope still parked in the middle of the gardens at Birr Castle. Designed by the Third Earl of Rosse in the 1840’s, this was once the LARGEST telescope in the world, yes the whole wide world. My kids couldn’t get their heads around this information. It’s an extremely impressive structure that can be found only five minutes from the playground.
- The Waterfall
We had heard there was a stunning waterfall (and it didn’t disappoint) hidden amongst the gardens so off in search of it we went. It didn’t take us long to discover its location and boy were we glad we found it. It’s tucked away from the pathway so it was an adventure for us all to find a viewing spot. We left the stroller at the edge of the pathway and off we went. We took some beautiful pictures here and my husband and son even ventured out into the middle of the river on a big tree log to get some more pictures. This was my favourite part of the day.
- The Walled Gardens
It’s lovely when you don’t know what’s behind a wall, and the anticipation of this made our adventure into the walled gardens even more fun. “What’s around this corner, come look over here, I’m going into this part mommy.” Behind the walls are beautifully manicured gardens with plenty of areas to sit, picnic and enjoy the views. It was the most relaxing part of the trip for me. You’ll also find the world’s tallest box hedges here.
- Science Centre
This was super impressive. We spent close to an hour exploring this wonderfully interactive educational centre that delved into engineering, astronomy, and photography. We learned all about the design of the Great Telescope and appreciated all the displays in front of us.
Our kids had so much fun roaming the gardens, catching glimpses of the actual Castle itself (home to the Parsons’ family for generations- you can visit the castle for an additional €18 per person) and most of all LOVED horsing around with the bails of hay. Cost- €26 for a family of four (kids 4 and under go free). We spent a good 4 hours of fun in the sun at Birr Castle and Gardens. Although we brought our own picnic, there is a wonderful café on site (in-door and out-door seating).