Offaly

Offaly

County Offaly is one of Ireland's inland counties, it is covered extensively by bogland and bordered by the River Shannon to the west and the Slieve Bloom Mountains to the south.

Much of Offaly is covered by one of Western Europe's largest inland bogs, Clara Bog and the great Bog of Allen covers Offaly and neighbouring county Laois. These two counties were both among the first counties planted by English settlers in the 16th Century. Laois was called Queen's County and Offaly, King's County, however their names reverted back to the Irish after the establishment of the Free State in 1922.

The county town is Tullamore, an attractive market town in the centre of Offaly. The Earls of Charleville designed its picturesque buildings in the mid 1700s. Tullamore Whiskey has been distilled in the town since the 16th Century.

On the western borders of Co. Offaly overlooking the River Shannon is Clonmacnoise, one of the most important religious sites of early Christian Ireland. This river intersection was one of the most important inland routes of Ireland, known as the Highway of the Kings. Clonmacnoise was founded by St Kieran in 544 and consists of a round tower church, high crosses and some of the finest examples of ancient grave slabs in Ireland.

Another of Offaly's interesting visitor attractions is Birr Castle Demesne, with stunning grounds and jousting displays each may. Birr Castle and its patrons, the Parsons, were renowned for their research in astronomy and for 75 years the Great Telescope exhibited here, was the most powerful in the world.

As well as the Parsons another famous Offaly name is Charles Carroll, a signatory of the American Declaration of Independence.

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