Offaly’s a treasure trove of things to do and places to see! From strolling through the historic Early Christian site of Clonmacnoise, to cruising up the River Shannon, Offaly has something for all the family. You will find a host of must-see places including picturesque mountain ranges, castles, lakes and heritage centres, as well as fun activities for every walk of life, from mountain biking to parachute jumping! Offaly truly reflects the unspoilt rural beauty, historical charm and cultural vitality of Ireland. If you are a native to the area or just travelling through, this Ultimate Offaly Bucket List of the Top 10 attractions is a must!!
Parachuting in Clonbullogue
Book a skydiving course at the Irish Parachute Club in Clonbullogue County Offaly, and experience the thrill of a lifetime freefalling above Offalys breathtaking rural landscape. Skydiving is becoming a very popular high-adrenaline activity. Whether it is to make money for charity or to fulfill a lifelong dream, a parachute jump at Clonbullogue will make your stay in Offaly one you will never forget!
Hiking & Mountain Biking in Slieve Bloom Mountains
A trip to the Slieve Bloom mountains is a must when you are go to Offaly. They are the oldest mountain range in Ireland and one of the most beautiful and undiscovered! There are many trails for both cyclists and hikers from beginners to advanced! Local bikes can be rented from Giltraps Bike Rental in Kinnitty. Be sure to pick up a map in advance of setting out on your trip and follow some useful tips here.
There are vast networks of bike and walking trails waiting at Lough Boora nature reserve, with a beautiful lake at the centre of it. Why not enjoy a picnic, take in the picturesque surroundings, natural flora and wildlife and discover the Mesolithic site where artifacts dating from between 6800BCE and 6000BCE were excavated in this breathtaking Discovery park.
Birr Castle is located on 50 hectares of landscaped gardens. Although the castle is only opened to the public in the summer, its gardens house The Great Telescope, which was built by the Third Earl of Rosse in the 1840’s and was the largest of its kind in the world at the time. Birr castle was a hub of scientific discovery at the time and you can visit the Historic Science Centre here where you can uncover the wonders of early photography and astronomy. Birr Castle is also the home to the Treehouse Adventure Area with Irelands largest treehouse so bring the kids!
Many battles were fought at Kinnitty Castle throughout the centuries and legend has it – it is now home to many ghosts, the most famous of which is the Phantom Monk of Kinnitty!! The medieval revival castle, bustling with original decor and ambiance which dates back to the 13th century, will not disappoint. You will be spoilt for choice roaming around the 650 acres of parkland.
Cruise on the Shannon
Climb aboard the cruise boat and experience the River Shannon as it meanders through the picturesque Offaly countryside. The route taken depends on whether you go north or south, with panoramic views in both directions. Starting off in Banagher in Offaly you can go north to Shannonbridge, on to Clonmacnoise and then Athlone, or if you choose to go south, you can sail down the scenic waterways past the quaint villages of Portumna, Terryglass and Killaloe.
Clonmacnoise is an Early Christian monastery situated on the River Shannon in Shannonbridge, County Offaly. It was founded in 544 by St Ciaran. It consists of the ruins of a cathedral, 7 churches (10th to 13th century), 2 round towers, 3 high crosses and a large collection on Early Chrisitian graveslabs. Explore the heritage visitor centre where is a 30 minute video on the monastic site shown throughout the day. This gem is a must see on the ancient eastern trail attracting thousands of tourists annually!
Birr Theatre and Arts Centre
The Birr Theatre and Arts Centre is a purpose built Victorian theatre which seats 220 guests. Main theatre attractions include music – classical, contemporary, folk, jazz etc, film, dance, comedy and many Festivals (Hullabaloo! Offaly’s Children’s Arts Festival, OFFline Film Festival, IF ONLY Dance Festival, Birr Vintage Week & Arts Festival, Scripts, Ireland’s Playwriting Festival and Birr One Act Drama Festival).
Obama Visitor Centre
Visit the Obama Visitor Centre, an exhibition centre at the Barack Obama Plaza in Moneygall, County Offaly. It tells the story of Obama’s 3rd Great Grandfathers departure from Ireland in the famine, in search of a better life in America.
The infamous Tullamore Dew Whiskey brewery reopened its doors in Tullamore in 2014 after 65 years since it was sold! However, Tullamore DEW have been crafting the finest whiskey long before then since it was originally founded in 1829! With so many whiskey tastings on offer in the state of the art brewery, it’s bound to be a great day. Tours and group booking can be booked in advance. Book early to avoid disappointment.