Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Markree Castle

THE COOPERS WERE THE LARGEST LANDOWNERS IN COUNTY SLIGO, WITH 34,120 ACRES

EDWARD COOPER (c1616-76), a cornet in Richard, Lord Collooney's regiment of dragoons, settling in Ireland, became possessed of a great estate in that kingdom.
Cornet Cooper was serving under Cromwell when his army defeated the mighty O’Brien Clan. O’Brien himself lost his life in this battle and Edward married his widow, Máire Rua (Red Mary). With her and her two sons he went to live at Luimneach Castle in Limerick, which is now a ruin. She had her two sons take the name of Cooper as protection from the English invaders.
Cromwell’s army marched on, further northwards in spite of the fact that he did not have the means to pay his officers. Instead, he gave them large pieces of land. Thus, he gave Markree Castle, near Collooney in County Sligo, and the surrounding grounds to Edward Cooper.
By Margaret his wife, daughter of Nicholas Mahon, of Ballinamulty, County Roscommon, he had issue,
Edward, dsp;
ARTHUR, his heir;
Richard;
Mary; Margaret.
The second son,

ARTHUR COOPER (1667-93), of Markree, County Sligo, heir to his brother Edward, married, ca 1693, Mary, daughter of Sir Joshua Allen, Knight, father of John, 1st Viscount Allen, and had issue,
JOSHUA, his heir;
Richard, dsp;
Mary; Elizabeth; Anne; Eleanor; Margaret.
The eldest son,

JOSHUA COOPER (c1696-1757), of Markree, wedded, ca 1729, Mary, daughter of Richard Bingham, of Newbrook, County Mayo, and left two sons; the younger, Richard, of Bath; and the elder,

THE RT HON JOSHUA COOPER, of Markree, MP for County Sligo, Privy Counsellor, who married Alicia, only daughter and heir of the Rt Rev Dr Edward Synge, Lord Bishop of Elphin, and had issue,
JOSHUA EDWARD, dsp;
Edward Synge, father of EDWARD JOSHUA;
Richard, dsp;
Jane, died unmarried.
Mr Cooper was succeeded by his grandson,

EDWARD JOSHUA COOPER, of Markree, MP for County Sligo, who married twice, without male issue, and was succeeded by his nephew,

THE RT HON EDWARD HENRY COOPER JP, of Markree Castle, High Sheriff, 1871, Lieutenant-Colonel, Grenadier Guards, MP for County Sligo, 1865-68, who married firstly, Sophia, third daughter of Henry P L'Estrange, of Moyestown, King's County, which lady dsp.

He married, secondly, Sarah Frances, daughter of Owen Wynne, of Haslewood, County Sligo, and had issue,
Laura Frances; Charlotte Sophie; Emma Marie; Selina Elizabeth; Cicely Florence.
Mr Cooper died in 1863, and was succeeded by his nephew,

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL THE RT HON EDWARD HENRY COOPER JP DL (1827-1902), of Markree Castle, who wedded, in 1858, Charlotte Maria, only child of Edward W Mills, of Hampshire, and had issue,
Francis Edward, father of BRYAN RICCO;
Richard Joshua, CVO;
Arthur Charles;
Kathleen Emily; Florence Lucy; Venetia Helen.
Colonel Cooper was succeeded by his grandson,

BRYAN RICCO COOPER TD JP DL (1884-1930), of Markree Castle, High Sheriff of County Sligo, 1908, MP for Dublin County, 1910, who espoused, in 1910, Marion Dorothy, elder daughter of Edward Stanley Handcock, of Fulmer, Buckinghamshire, and had issue, his eldest son,

LIEUTENANT-COMMANDER EDWARD FRANCIS PATRICK COOPER RN, of Markree Castle (1912-), who married, in 1937, Elizabeth Mary, daughter of the Ven Charles Philip Stuart Clarke; educated at Royal Naval College, Dartmouth; fought in 2nd World War; retired from the Navy in 1945.

His youngest son,

CHARLES PHILIP COOPER, of Markree Castle (b 1948), educated at St. Columba's College, Dublin, lived in 1976 at Newport, County Mayo; formerly in hotel management.


MARKREE CASTLE, Collooney, County Sligo, originally a 17th century house, was rebuilt a century later; and, in 1802, Joshua Cooper commissioned Francis Johnston to enlarge this house and transform it into a castellated mansion.

The Castle was completely transformed and greatly extended with a new garden front and tower.


In 1866, the Castle was further enlarged again by Lt-Col E H Cooper MP, who added a massive, battlemented tower, increasing the size of the dining-room. A Gothic chapel was built.

The interior has a straight flight of stone stairs which lead up to the main floor under the porte-cochere, beneath a vaulted ceiling.


Beyond is a vast, Victorian double-staircase of oak, lit by a heraldic stained-glass window illustrating the Cooper family tree, with ancestors and Monarchs.

The large drawing-room was re-decorated in the mid-1800s in an ornate Louis Quatorze style, with abundant gilding and portly putti in high-relief supporting cartouches and trailing swags of fruit and flowers.


Brief Family History

Times remained turbulent and during an attempt by JAMES I to regain the throne, Markree Castle was occupied by the Catholic army and the Coopers had to flee.

After the battle of the Boyne in 1690, they returned and have been resident here ever since, except for a brief period during the Irish Civil War in the 1920s when Markree was again occupied, this time by the Irish Free State army.

The family was always politically involved and several ancestors represented the county at Westminster.

They did not always follow party policy (maybe because they were descended from the O’Briens) and opposed the Act of Union, which sought to dissolve the parliament in Dublin and centralise power in London, in 1802.

The Coopers’ opposition to the Act of Union cost them the peerage that they had been promised and it is for this reason that Markree is one of the very few castles in Ireland that is not owned by a titled family.

In 1922, the grandfather of the current owner, Charles Cooper, was one of the two members of the Westminster Parliament who were also elected as a TD to the first Irish Parliament after independence.

After the 2nd World War, Markree Castle fell on hard times and it stood empty and derelict for many years.

In the early 1980s it appeared on the front cover of a book entitled Vanishing Houses of Ireland, a testament to the sad state of decay in which many of Ireland’s great houses found themselves.

In 1989, Charles Cooper, having worked in the hotel business all his life, came back to Markree to renovate the castle and run it as a hotel.

Each generation left its mark on the estate, but the castle, as we can see it today, dates from 1802 with some changes made, mainly to the interior, in 1896.

Walking around the outside of the Castle you can see dates of completion carved in stone on the walls.

The stained glass window in the hall traces the Cooper family tree from Victorian times back to the time of King John.

The restaurant is an architectural masterpiece designed by Francis Johnston and executed by Italian craftsmen.

A conservation area, the estate holds an array of wild life from red squirrels, to otters, to kingfishers. It has proved inspirational and the hymn All Things Bright and Beautiful was written here in the 1800s.

At the heart of Yeats’ Country, the poet W.B. Yeats was a guest here when the Castle was still a private residence.

More recently, the singer-songwriter Johnny Cash and the golfer Tom Watson have stayed there.

In June, 2015, the 300-acre Markree Castle estate was acquired by the Corscadden family for an undisclosed sum.

The hotel will undergo a €5 million restoration prior to re-opening in the spring of 2016.

First published in June, 2011.

Monday, 21 August 2017

GEORGE I

By the Grace of God, King of Great Britain, France and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, etc.


First published in August, 2013.

1st Duke of Kingston

DUKEDOM OF KINGSTON-UPON-HULL
1715-1773

Although the family of PIERREPONT did not attain the honours of the peerage until a period of comparatively recent date, yet they were persons of distinction ever since the Conquest.

In which eventful era,

ROBERT DE PIERREPONT was of the retinue of William de Warenne, 1st Earl of Surrey, and at the time of the General Survey, held lands in Suffolk and Sussex, amounting to ten knights' fees, under that nobleman.

The great-grandson of this Robert, another

ROBERT DE PIERREPONT, was a person of such extensive property, that being made prisoner fighting on the side of HENRY III, at the battle of Lewes, he was forced to give security for the payment of the then great sum of seven hundred marks for his ransom.

He was, however, relieved from the obligation by the subsequent victory of the royalists at Evesham, Worcestershire.

He was succeeded by his son,

SIR HENRY DE PIERREPONT, a person of great note at the period in which he lived.

In the eighth year of EDWARD I's reign, Sir Henry having lost his seal, came into the Court of Chancery, then at Lincoln, and declared that if anyone should find it, with its seal, thereafter, that it should not be valid.

He married Annora, daughter of Michael, and sister and heir of Lionel de Manvers, whereby he acquired extensive land in Nottinghamshire, with the Lordship of Holme, now called Holme Pierrepont.

Sir Henry died about the twentieth year of EDWARD I's reign, and was succeeded by his elder son,

SIMON DE PIERREPONT, who was one of those that by special writ had summons amongst the barons of the realm, to repair with all speed to the King, wheresoever he should be in England, to treat of certain weighty affairs relating to his and their honour.

This Simon leaving only a daughter, Sibilla, was succeeded by his brother,

ROBERT DE PIERREPONT, a very eminent person in the reigns of EDWARD I and EDWARD II, and distinguished in the wars of Scotland.

He espoused Sarah, daughter and heir of Sir John Heriez, and was succeeded by his son,

SIR EDMUND DE PIERREPONT, from whom we pass to his lineal descendant,

SIR GEORGE PIERREPONT (1510-64), who, at the dissolution of the monasteries, in the reign of HENRY VIII, purchased large manors in Nottinghamshire, part of the possessions of the Abbot and Convent of Welbeck; and others in Derbyshire, which had belonged to Newstead Abbey.

He died in the sixth year of ELIZABETH I, and was succeeded by his son,

SIR HENRY PIERREPONT (1546-1615), who wedded Frances, elder daughter of Sir William Cavendish, of Chatsworth, and sister of William, Earl of Derbyshire, and had issue,
ROBERT, his heir;
Grace; Elizabeth.
Sir Henry was succeeded by his son,

ROBERT PIERREPONT (1584-1643), who was elevated to the peerage, 1627, as Baron Pierrepont and Viscount Newark; and the next year was advanced to an earldom, as EARL OF KINGSTON-UPON-HULL.

His lordship wedded, in 1601, Gertrude, eldest daughter and co-heir of the Hon Henry Talbot, and had issue,
HENRY, his successor;
William;
Francis;
Robert;
Gervase;
George;
Frances.
He was succeeded by his eldest son,

HENRY, 2nd Earl (1606-80), who married firstly, Cecilia, daughter of Paul, 1st Viscount Bayning, and had issue,
Henry;
Robert;
Anne; Grace.
His lordship espoused secondly, Catherine, daughter of James, 7th Earl of Derby, by whom he had no issue.

The 2nd Earl was advanced to the dignity of a marquessate, in 1647, by the title Marquess of Dorchester; though his lordship died without surviving male issue, and the marquessate expired.

The earldom of Kingston-upon-Hull subsequently reverted to Lord Dorchester's great-nephew and heir male,

ROBERT, 3rd Earl (c1660-82), who died unmarried, when the titles passed to his next brother,

WILLIAM, 4th Earl (c1662-90), who died unmarried, and was succeeded by his brother,

EVELYN, 5th Earl, KG (1665-1726), who married firstly, Mary, daughter of William, 3rd Earl of Denbigh, and had issue,
WILLIAM (1692-1713), father of WILLIAM;
Mary; Frances; Evelyn.
He wedded secondly, in 1714, Isabella, daughter of William, 1st Earl of Portland, and had issue,
Caroline; Anne.
His lordship was advanced to a marquessate, in 1706, as Marquess of Dorchester; and further advanced, in 1715, to the dignity of a dukedom, as DUKE OF KINGSTON-UPON-HULL.

His Grace was succeeded by his grandson,

WILLIAM, 2nd Duke, KG (1711-73), who wedded, in 1769, Elizabeth, Countess of Bristol (former wife of the 3rd Earl of Bristol), by whom he had no issue.

Following the decease of the 2nd and last Duke, the titles expired.

Former seats ~ Thoresby Hall, Nottinghamshire; Holme Pierrepont Hall, Nottinghamshire.

Former town residence ~ Kingston House, London.

Kingston arms courtesy of European Heraldry.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

9-15 Bedford Street, Belfast

Windsor House ca 2015

MARCUS PATTON OBE, in his invaluable historical gazetteer of central Belfast, describes numbers 9-15 Bedford Street thus:
In 1852 a new stone warehouse had been built on this site for Messrs Robert and John Workman, linen and muslin manufacturers, by Charles Lanyon. 
One of the first developments in the street, this was four storeys high with channelled ground and first floors, central first floor balcony, arched tops to third-floor windows, outer bays set slightly forward, and chimneys rising above deep eaves.

The Workmans' warehouse was demolished in the early 1970s and construction began on Windsor House.


Windsor House, or the Grand Central Hotel as it shall soon be, remains the tallest commercial office building in Northern Ireland (after the Obel Tower), measuring approximately 262 feet in height.

Franklin Street elevation, April, 2017

The Bedford Street (eastern elevation) of the main block is relatively narrow, though the building extends backwards along Franklin Street on the south side and James Street South on the north side for a considerable distance.

A massive extension, forty or fifty feet in height, has been built around these three sides.

Bedford Street elevation, August, 2017

In 2015 it comprised approximately 122,500 square feet, set over ground and twenty-two upper floors.

Most of the floors extend to about 5,300 square feet.

The building incorporated a double-deck car park at ground and first-floor levels, with 96 car-parking spaces accessed via James Street South.

Franklin Street elevation, August, 2017

The external walls were of a mosaic-covered, prefabricated concrete cladding with a steel and reinforced concrete structure.

A concrete mineral felt-finished flat rood covered the building, capped with a communications mast.

It is served by five high-speed lifts from the foyer.

James Street South elevation, August, 2017

Windsor House was purchased in 2015 by the Hastings Hotels group.

I keep a close eye on the construction and building works at the site.

The old Windsor House block is being virtually rebuilt and is being extended on all sides, especially the Bedford Street elevation.

The old building has been gutted and new walls, electrification, and almost everything else is being renewed and replaced.

The new Grand Central Hotel will open in June, 2018.

First published in May, 2015.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Rowan-Hamilton of Killyleagh

This family is descended from Thomas, youngest son of Sir John Hamilton of Cadzow, from which Thomas many families in Ulster descended; namely, those of Killyleagh, Hallcraig or Neillsbrook, Tollymore, Carnesure, Bangor, Ballygally, and Gransha; founded by the six sons of Hans Hamilton of Dunlop.

THE REV HANS HAMILTON (c1535-1608), Vicar of Dunlop, Ayrshire, wedded Margaret Denholm, daughter of the Laird of Weshiels, and had, with other issue,
James, 1ST VISCOUNT CLANEBOYE;
ARCHIBALD, of whom we treat.
The younger son,

ARCHIBALD HAMILTON, of Hallcraig, Lanarkshire, married firstly, Rachel Carmichael, and had issue,
JOHN;
James;
Gawn;
William;
Hugh.
He wedded secondly, Miss Simpson, by whom he left one daughter, Jane, married to Archibald Edmonstone, of Braid Island, County Antrim.

The third son,

GAWN HAMILTON, of Killyleagh, County Down, espoused Jane, daughter of Archibald Hamilton, and had issue,
ARCHIBALD;
Mary; Rose.
He died in 1703, and was succeeded by his son and heir,

ARCHIBALD HAMILTON, of Killyleagh, who married Mary, daughter of David Johnstone, of Tully, County Monaghan, and had issue,
William;
GAWN;
Susanna; Jane; Mary.
Mr Hamilton died in 1747, and was succeeded by his younger son,

GAWN HAMILTON (1729-1805), of Killyleagh, who wedded, in 1750, Jane, only child of WILLIAM ROWAN, barrister-at-law, and widow of Tichbourne Aston, of Beaulieu, County Louth, and had issue,
ARCHIBALD;
Sidney.
Mr Hamilton was succeeded by his son and heir,

ARCHIBALD HAMILTON (1752-1834), of Killyleagh Castle, County Down, who assumed the additional surname of ROWAN, in conformity with the will of his maternal grandfather, WILLIAM ROWAN, who devised his fortune to his grandson, then a boy at Westminster School
"in the hope that he should become a learned, honest, sober man; live unbribed and unpensioned; zealous for the rights of his country; loyal to his King; and a true protestant without bigotry to any sect."
He married, in 1781, Sarah Anne, daughter of Walter Dawson, of Carrickmacross, County Monaghan, and had issue,
Archibald;
GAWN WILLIAM ROWAN;
Sydney;
Frederick;
Dawson;
Jane; Elizabeth; Mildred; Harriet; Francesca.
Mr Rowan-Hamilton's second son,

GAWN WILLIAM ROWAN ROWAN-HAMILTON CB (1783-1834), of Killyleagh Castle, Captain RN, married, in 1817, Catherine, daughter of General Sir George Cockburn, and had issue,
ARCHIBALD ROWN, his heir;
George Rowan;
Melita Anne.
Captain Rowan-Hamilton was succeeded by his elder son,

ARCHIBALD ROWAN ROWAN-HAMILTON JP, of Killyleagh Castle, who married, in 1842, Catherine Anne, daughter of Rev George Caldwell, and had issue,
GAWN WILLIAM, his heir;
George;
Sidney Augustus Rowan;
Frederick Temple Rowan, father of
GAWN BASIL GUY ROWAN-HAMILTON;
Mary Catherine; Helen Gwendoline; Harriet Georgina.
Mr Rowan-Hamilton died in 1818, and was succeeded by his eldest son,

COLONEL GAWN WILLIAM ROWAN-HAMILTON JP DL (1844-1930), of Killyleagh Castle, and Shanagonagh Castle, County Dublin, who wedded, in 1876, Lina Mary Howley, daughter of Sir George Howland Beaumont Bt, and had issue,
ARCHIBALD JAMES;
Orfla Melita.
Colonel Rowan-Hamilton was succeeded by his son and heir,

ARCHIBALD JAMES ROWAN-HAMILTON (1877-1915), who espoused, in 1908, Norah, daughter of Frederick Abiss Phillips.

He was killed in action, 1915, without issue, and was succeeded by his nephew,

BRIGADIER GAWN BASIL (GUY) ROWAN-HAMILTON DSO MC DL (1884-1947), of Killyleagh Castle, who married, in 1916, Phyllis Frances, daughter of Robert, Lord Blackburn, by his wife Lady Constance Frances Bowes-Lyon, and had issue,
Angus David;
DENYS ARCHIBALD;
Gawn Leslie.
The second son,

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL DENYS ARCHIBALD ROWAN-HAMILTON MVO DL (b 1921), of Killyleagh Castle, High Sheriff of County Down, 1975, married, in 1961, Wanda Annette, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel Rupert Warburton, and had issue,
GAWN WILLIAM, of Killyleagh Castleb 1968;
Constance Orfla; Louisa Anne.
Colonel Rowan-Hamilton fought in the 2nd World War; Member, Royal Victorian Order, 1947; Aide-de-Camp, Governor of Southern Rhodesia, 1947; Major, 29th Britiish Infantry Brigade, Korea; Military Secretary to West Africa; 2nd in command of the 1st Black Watch, 1957-59; commander, 45th Black Watch, 1960-63; Defence Attache to the British Embassy, Damascus and Beirut, 1964-67; retired from the Army, 1967.

First published in August, 2013.

Friday, 18 August 2017

New DL

The Earl of Caledon KCVO, Lord-Lieutenant of County Armagh, has been pleased to appoint:
Mrs Georgina WALSH
Annasamry
Summer Island
Loughgall
County Armagh
To be a Deputy Lieutenant of the County, her Commission bearing date the 25th July, 2017.

Lord-Lieutenant of the County

Birr Castle

THE EARLS OF ROSSE WERE THE SECOND LARGEST LANDOWNERS IN THE KING'S COUNTY, WITH 22,513 ACRES

This noble family, of English origin, was brought into Ireland towards the close of ELIZABETH I's reign.

Its members have, at different periods, filled the highest political employments in the state; have taken distinguished parts in the senate; have become eminent upon the Bench and at the Bar; and have twice been enrolled amongst the baronetage of the kingdom, and twice elevated to the peerage.

WILLIAM PARSONS, of Norfolk, father of Lady Poynings (wife of Richard, Lord Poynings), and mother of Sir Edward Poynings KG (1459-1521), was grandfather (it is presumed) of

WILLIAM PARSONS (1570-1650), who settled in Ireland about the close of ELIZABETH I's reign; and being a commissioner of plantations, obtained very considerable territorial grants from the Crown.

In 1602, he succeeded Sir Geoffrey Fenton, as Surveyor-General of Ireland; in 1610, he obtained a pension of £30 per annum for life.

In 1611, he was joined with his brother, Lawrence, in the supervisorship of the crown lands, with a fee of £60 per annum for life.

In 1620, presenting to JAMES I, in person, surveys of escheated estates, in his capacity of surveyor-general, he received the honour of knighthood, and was created a baronet, denominated of Bellamont, in the same year.

Sir William represented the county of Wicklow in parliament in 1639, and was nominated lord justice with Lord Dillon in 1640; but that nobleman being soon removed, he was re-sworn with Sir John Borlace, Master of the Ordnance.

He continued in the government until 1643, when he was removed, charged with treason, and committed to prison, with Sir Adam Loftus and others.

Sir William died in Westminster, and was succeeded by his grandson,

SIR WILLIAM PARSONS, 2nd Baronet, of Bellamont, County Dublin (only son of Richard Parsons by his first wife, Lettice, eldest daughter of Sir Adam Loftus, and granddaughter maternally of Walter Vaughan).

This gentleman married Catherine, eldest daughter of Arthur, Viscount Ranelagh; and dying in 1658, was succeeded by his only surviving son,

SIR RICHARD PARSONS, 3rd Baronet, who was elevated to the peerage, in 1681, as Baron Oxmantown and Viscount Rosse, with remainder to the male issue of his great-grandfather.

His lordship wedded firstly, Anne Walsingham; secondly, Catherine, daughter of George, Lord Chandos, both of whom died issueless; and thirdly, in 1685, Elizabeth, eldest daughter of Sir George Hamilton, and niece of Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, by whom he two sons and three daughters.

He died in 1702, and was succeeded by his elder son,

RICHARD, 2nd Viscount (1702-41), who was created, 1718, EARL OF ROSSE.

His lordship married, in 1715, Mary, eldest daughter of Lord William Paulet, brother of Charles, 2nd Duke of Bolton, by whom he had two sons and a daughter; and was succeeded by his elder son,

RICHARD, 2nd Earl; at whose decease, in 1764, without issue, all the honours expired, and the representation of the family devolved upon Sir William Parsons, 4th Baronet, of Birr Castle, MP for the King's County; who married and had issue,

LAURENCE, 3rd Earl, born in 1758,
The heir apparent is the present holder's son Lawrence Patrick Parsons, styled Lord Oxmantown.


The 7th and present Earl is a descendant of the 1st Baronet.

Lord and Lady Rosse live at Birr Castle.
During the period 1979-2007, Lord and Lady Rosse facilitated many decades of research by Dr Anthony Malcomson, former director of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, and latterly sponsored by the Irish Manuscripts Commission, to enable the production, for the first time, of a comprehensive calendar of the Rosse Papers in 2008.
The archive is held in the Muniment Room of Birr Castle.

The Calendar is of inestimable value for researchers delving into the history of the Parsons family, including English settlement of the Irish midlands in the 17th century; the Williamite wars; early Irish nationalism; the Royal Navy in the 18th century; 19th century science and astronomy; and the fate of the landed gentry in the early 20th century.


BIRR CASTLE demesne, and the historic town of Birr, County Offaly, lie in the centre of Ireland.

The Castle is private, though the famous gardens of the demesne are open every day.

The demesne includes Ireland's Historic Science Centre whose galleries show what Ireland's leading historic scientists have contributed to astronomy photography, engineering and the art of gardening.


Birr Castle’s most spectacular high ceilinged rooms are its tapestried hall, its great Gothic music saloon overlooking the river, its yellow drawing room and long red dining room.

Other features inside include a unique staircase of the 1660s, an early panelled bedroom and dungeons.

Surrounding the castle is Ireland’s largest heritage garden with rivers, waterfalls, a fountain and lake with a Canadian log cabin, cloisters with urns and statuary.


Beyond that a riverbank wilderness and native woods; a Georgian country house in its own park; even a romantic ruined manor court.

Birr Castle was built on medieval foundations in the 1620s. It has been redeveloped many times over the years with more recent parts of the castle dating to the 19th century.

As such the castle has many stylistic perspectives. The façade of the castle is Gothic.

The reception rooms are high ceilinged and date mainly from the early 19th century with a spectacular Gothic ‘saloon’ or drawing room overlooking the River Camcor.

There is a medieval basement and dungeons beneath the Castle as well as battlements along the roof.

The 100 acre demesne has a huge variety of rare and beautiful trees and plants from all over the world. Some highlights include: The Camcor and Little Brosna Rivers and the Lake.

The Fernery with a waterfall, streams and fountain.

The formal gardens feature the hornbeam cloisters, Bavarian urns and decorative seats.

The walled gardens feature Box Hedges that are over 350 years old.
They are also, according to The Guinness Book of Records, the tallest hedges in the world. Other features include: Orchards, bridges, arboretum, outdoor grass stage (teatre Verde), herbaceous borders, lakeside log cabin, Georgian mansion and derelict manor court and stable muse, bog land, country cottages, moat, drawbridge.
A main feature of the demesne is the "Great Telescope" of the 3rd Earl, an astronomical telescope with a 72" reflector.

When completed in 1845, it was the largest telescope on earth, and capable of capturing more light and seeing further into space than any telescope had done before.

It was dismantled in 1914, but was restored by the state in the 1990s as an Irish scientific icon.

There is a long history of photography at the castle. Mary Rosse (1813-85) was the earliest acclaimed female photographer in world.

Her dark room, in which she developed her own photos, is still preserved in the castle exactly as she left it in the 1890s.

Lord Snowdon, who was, as Anthony Armstrong-Jones, partly brought up at Birr, returned to it as a setting for Viyella and other catalogues in the 1980s.

The gardens are host to wedding photography most weekends in the summer.

First published in June, 2011.  Rosse arms courtesy of European Heraldry.