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County Offally / Co. Uíbh Fhailí

In the very centre of the country is the town of Birr which was known as "The navel of Ireland" - since it is virtually at the geographical centre of the whole country. Birr was founded in the 6th century at the meeting of two rivers, the Little Brosna and the Comeor, by St. Brendan of Birr. There are two striking features to be noted - the splendid tracts of peatlands which support an enormous variety of wild and plant life, and the other the ancient monastic settlement on the banks of the Shannon called Clonmacnoise.

The other main town is Tullamore, the administrative capital of the county, a former garrison town, with splendid stone buildings, a thriving, busy town with plenty of restaurants and pubs, and has plenty of excellent facilities for both young and old. Clara is a small town, which is quite unique, on the Brosna River, where you will find nightly entertainment and a grand swimming pool. For ten days in August there is the "Queen of the Heather" festival and the visitor can enjoy days of great action and merrymaking. The town of Tullamore became a centre for brewing, flour-milling and distilling; and the famous Irish Mist Liqueur.

For the walker, cyclist, botanist or ornithologist there is the "Bog of Allen" - which will give the traveller great pleasure, and who will be received in the village with a warm welcome. Well worth a visit is Birr Castle, the grounds are open to the public and there is a famous observatory here having the largest telescope in the world at the start of this century. It is hoped that it will be restored and become one of the main features of the castle.


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