Here are our insider tips on what to see, where to stay and where to dine in the beautiful Co Offaly
Main Image;Birr Castle Demesne, Discover Ireland
Celebrate an Irish Summer with our Fly The Flag Destination Guides featuring travel tips, restaurant recommendations, luxurious hotel stays and a focus on Irish shops and produce. If you are planning an Irish getaway – scroll and save for your next trip …
WHERE TO STAY
Gloster House, Brosna, Birr
Already an in-the-know wedding venue, Gloster House belongs to the Alexander family who spent 16 years restoring the 300-year-old property to its former Georgian opulence. This hidden gem can also be rented exclusively for up to twelve guests. Accommodation includes six Georgian-style double bedrooms with a private chef provided to cook all meals. Guests can wander the 140-acre estate which is surrounded by lawns, terraces, water features, woodlands and lakes – look out for its resident peacocks too! The family can also organise day visits for those travelling from Dublin and in addition provide gourmet lunches, tours of the house and use of the estate; www.glosterhouse.ie
The Stables, Birr
The Stables comprises of five guest rooms in an original Georgian town house overlooking Oxmantown Mall or The Stables Courtyard. Originally built in the early 1800s, the guest rooms have been stylishly renovated offering comfort and luxury. The Stables are central too – directly opposite Birr Theatre & Arts Centre and adjacent to the main gates of Birr Castle Gardens and Science Centre. For a gentle stroll, guests will find two walking trails on the doorstep – the Riverbank Walk and the Birr Town Trail. Do pop into The Stables Tearooms which serves homemade, sandwiches, desserts, and afternoon teas. There’s also casual al fresco dining in the courtyard area. For some retail therapy, pop into The Emporium at The Stables, which sells a range of fashion, jewellery, and French and Scandinavian-style furniture; www.thestablesbirr.com
Mount Briscoe and Glamping, Mullalough, Daingean
Mount Briscoe offers a trio of appealing accommodation options. Guests can stay in the main Georgian hunting lodge which dates back to the 1700s – think comfy bedrooms with exposed beams and stonework, antiques and lovely local pottery. There is also a rustic Shepherd’s Hut, which is situated in the orchard, close to the house. For a glamping experience, there is a bell tent which can accommodate up to three people. It’s fully furnished and is cosy with indoor and outdoor seating, solar lights and bathroom facilities a short walk across the lawn. A glamping stay includes the option of a massage or forest bathing. As a tech-free experience, (there is no WiFi), this is the place to disconnect completely. Yoga is also available on Saturday mornings from 11am in the walled garden; www.mountbriscoe.ie
A Cruise Boat
There are two boat companies operating from Banagher – Cruise Ireland and Silverline Cruisers offer a fleet of modern cruisers suitable for couples, families or larger groups. As a guide, holidays start from €482 for two nights; www.cruise-ireland.com. All boats are fully fitted with a galley kitchen, though there are plenty of restaurants along the river Shannon to stop off for a bite – one recommendation is The Old Warehouse, Tullamore which fronts onto the Royal Canal at Bury Quay. PGA golf star Shane Lowry was involved in the redevelopment of this former bonded warehouse. The renovation took ten months and is now finished. While retaining the spirit of the venue’s previous function, the bar/restaurant is a mixture of intimate snugs and dramatic open spaces. In addition it houses The Copper Still Café, which offers coffee and snacks and is a popular stopping point for Offaly Greenway walkers.
Kinnitty Castle Hotel, Kinnitty
Kinnitty Castle, which dates back to the 13th-century, offers luxury accommodation in the picturesque village of Kinnitty. Set on 650 acres of parkland, with views of Slieve Bloom mountains, there are 37 individually styled guest bedrooms in four room types – Abbey Court Rooms, Baronial, State Rooms and Castle Suites. All offer comfort and gorgeous toiletries by The Handmade Soap Company. Take advantage of the horse-riding facilities – the hotel can organise treks in the Slieve Bloom Mountains with an instructor. Archery and tennis are other activities on offer. Guests can enjoy the Library Bar, The Sli Dala Restaurant and the Drawing Room. Don’t leave without sampling the ten-year-old Kinnitty Castle Irish Whiskey – best mixed with a little ice and some good company; www.kinnittycastlehotel.com
WHERE TO SHOP
As recommended by our Co Offaly Insiders….
Memory Lane Antiques
Memory Lane Antiques is a fan favourite amongst the locals. Not only do they have the lovliest sales team – they have the most fabulous stock of the gorgeous jewellery, vintage homewares and antique furniture. They really are worth a visit if you are in the area of Birr in Co Offaly. www.memorylaneantiques.ie
The Stables Birr
The Stables in Birr is the midlands’ go-to destination for gorgeous fashion, beautiful gifts and homeware, amazing food, and stunning accommodation. And now you can also visit their new beauty rooms. As our Co Offaly insider Grainne O’Malley informed us Stables is perfect for shopping for a special occasion- whatever the occasion. Whether you need a new outfit, a new piece of jewellery, a homeware gift or food or beauty products – Stables is the place to go. www.thestablesbirr.com
WHERE TO EAT
A van based on Nurney Road in Tullamore that will cater to all of your coffee needs. Cocobrew started when owner Tony left Australia and returned home to Ireland. He left the fitness industry behind to follow his passion of serving customers his top notch coffee. Tony appreciates how important a cup of coffee is to peoples’ everyday ritual. All of Cocobrews coffee is ethically and sustainably sourced – they work closely with the best green bean suppliers in Europe to ensure the highest quality specialty coffee is imported and then roasted to perfection in the heart of Dublin, Templebar. The van can be hired for any number of events – like weddings, work events, sporting events or for film sets. www.cocobrew.ie
The Blue Apron Restaurant
The Blue Apron Restaurant is the perfect establishment to enjoy a family meal in. They create fine cuisine in an intimate and relaxed setting. The menu is bursting with flavour from a slowbraised crispy oxtail croquette to start and a pan fried monkfish with parma ham and a roast red pepper ketchup for main course, to their Sunday roast of The Blue Apron roast rib of beef with creamy garlic potatoes and a Callebaut white chocolate and roast hazelnut cheesecake for dessert. @theblueapronrestaurant
The Old Warehouse
Shane Lowry’s new culinary venture is located in the charming town of Tullamore, on the beautiful Bury Quay. The Old Warehouse is the perfect quintessentially Irish gathering spot for locals and tourists alike. The interior is cosy and welcoming and the menu is delicious and expansive. From the hearty, fan favourites of pub grub to decadent drinks, you are sure to have your have your culinary needs met at The Old Warehouse bar and restaurant. For brunch a fabulous rendition of huevos rancheros will excite your tasteboods, for lunch how about a mouthwatering brisket sandwich and for dinner a seasonal roast tomato and basil risotto. You can absolutely stay there all day. www.oldwarehouse.ie
WHERE TO VISIT
Two Offaly residents share their Little Black Books…
Grainne O’Malley, General Manager Birr Castle Demesne
For walks: I am fortunate enough to drive over from one side of the ancient Slieve Bloom Mountains to the other for work every day. It’s easy to be distracted by stunning sunsets as I drive home on spring and autumn evenings. There are many wonderful walks and now bike trails on offer. I prefer to stick to walking and recommend these fabulous, uncongested mountain ranges; www.slievebloom.ie
For shopping: Memory Lane is a favourite antiques shop, especially for its fabulous rings. I recommend a visit and chat with Breeda the owner, I have spent many hours trying on beautiful rings and wondering what story they could tell; www.memorylaneantiques.ie For those special occasions, when a lovely accessory or unique piece of clothing is required, a trip to Caroline at the Stables Emporium is recommended. It’s close to my office and always has tempting treats. www.thestablesbirr.com
For paddleboarding: I have found paddleboarding to be the most fun you can have with the family and friends and paddleboarding from Banagher is like heaven on earth, If you haven’t tried it, give it a go. You are in very good hands with Jonathan from Mid-Ireland Adventures; www.midirelandadventure.ie
For dining: Having worked up an appetite at paddleboarding, try www.lukersbar.com where one of my favourite orders is the chicken fillet burger and rosemary fries. Delicious!
For culture: Offaly is full of gems, from Clonmacnoise, to Birr Castle Demesne and Birr Theatre and to add to the never-ending calendar of cultural events we now have the new creative arts centre in Tullamore, called Esker Arts, which has a really interesting calendar of events. www.eskerarts.ie
Michelle O’Donnell, glass artist from Rhode, Co Offaly
For walks: Croghan Hill (an extinct volcano!) is a lovely easy climb with amazing views. You get a great sense of achievement at that top and it is perfect for all levels. We also have a fabulous new cycle track on the canal which is lined with wild flowers and is really lovely;www.waterwaysireland.org Charleville Castle is worth a visit the grounds are beautiful and it’s a lovely walk too. www.charlevillecastle.ie
Feeling creative: Glasshammer Studio in Rhode, my pride and joy, is well worth a visit. We get a great response to our glassmaking workshops, working both with families and corporate groups. A family of up to ten people can unleash their imagination and create unique masterpieces together, making beautiful artworks for their home or in memory of loved ones. This day out caters for people aged 8 to 80 and costs €500 for up to ten people. People like to bring grandparents and it really is an incredible experience bringing families closer, while nurturing their artistic talents in a welcoming and supportive environment. www.glasshammer.ie The full experience in The Tullamore Dew Heritage Centre is well worth the visit – even just for the lovely Irish coffee you get on arrival.
To stay: Mount Briscoe organic farm accommodation is very relaxed with nice walks, with fresh brown bread and eggs for breakfast. They also offer bat watching and host a lovely Autumn festival and feast each year. www.mountbriscoe.ie People often stay there and come to our workshops.
For dining: Really good spot to visit is Shane Lowry’s restaurant called the Old Warehouse, on the banks of the canal www.oldwarehouse.ie in Tullamore.
For foragers: Foraging with Mary is an unique experience with consistent five-star reviews on Trip Advisor. Mary will lead the group on a forage, first within the grounds of her home near the beautiful Georgian town of Birr, and then into surrounding woodlands, hedgerows and anywhere else where hidden treasures are waiting to be discovered; www.wildfoodmary.com
If you visit any of these spots on your next trip to Co Offaly, be sure to let us know! Tag us on Instagram using #FlyTheFlag and @theglossmag. Or email us on email@example.com, we would love to hear from you …