Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Tullamore Tourists in Tullamore Dew & Birr Castle!




Welcome back, this week, as promised, I’ll tell you about our first full day as Tullamore tourists. Seeing as I was flying solo with my 5 little ones I decided to let them pick where they wanted to go. Armed with a bundle of tourist brochures from reception we sat down over breakfast and pondered all of our options. The children were immediately taken with Birr Castle, Gardens and Science Centre; there was something for everyone there. My 4 year old Cillian really wanted to see the skeffletope (telescope)!




Birr Castle Gardens & Science Centre

Birr Castle is located 37km from Tullamore which is a short 35 minute drive. However when we got there it wasn’t very clear that they didn’t have a dedicated car park so I drove up and down the external wall looking for it, eventually deciding to use the town car park located a short walk from the entrance to the castle. Parking was very cheap at €2.50 for 6 hours parking.

The castle itself dates back to medieval times and is currently home to the Parsons family who are now the Earls of Rosse, the Earls have lived in Birr Castle from as far back as 1620; it is only open to the public during summer months.

The Great Telescope built buy the Third Earl of Rosse in the 1840’s held the accolade of the largest telescope in the world for 70 years. “With it he discovered the spiral nature of certain nebulae – leading to their identification as galaxies.” It’s now fully restored and is located in the centre of the demesne.



There are three different mapped walks of the award winning gardens and natural parkland varying in duration from 10 minutes to 40 minutes. We chose to dip in and out of each of the walks ensuring we saw everything on our explorations. The icing on the cake for my children was when arrived back at the tree house adventure area home to the largest tree house in Ireland. By the time they had finished playing in the sand pit, playground, tree house and on the huge bouncy pillow they were exhausted and didn’t even have the energy to visit the Science Centre. So we made a promise to ourselves to return over the summer months so we could get to view the inside of the castle as well as the Science Centre.

Admission:

Adults €9, Children €5, Students/ Senior Citizens €7.50, Family (2 ad +2 ch) €25, children 4 and under are free. If you pick up a brochure like we did you receive 15% off admission.


Tullamore D.E.W.

I really couldn't visit the home of Tullamore D.E.W. and not drop in to their visitor centre even if I did have 5 children in tow. I thought my satnav was playing her usual tricks on me by bringing me down a boreen of a road alongside the Grand Canal and telling me I’d reached my destination when we were in a small car park. I couldn’t see anything for Tullamore D.E.W., no signs, no building, nothing, until a truck moved out of the way and I spotted a set of Tullamore Dew branded barrels on the walkway at the Grand Canal. I wasn’t the only one as when we entered the visitor centre I overheard a conversation between a gentleman and a staff member; he was explaining that he drove around the town for 20 minutes looking for it.

The visitor centre is located in the old bonded warehouse dating from 1897 right on the banks of the Grand Canal as this was the final resting place for Tullamore D.E.W before being loaded onto barges for distribution around the world. Now it is home to the visitor centre, bar/restaurant and gift shop.

The 50 minute tour begins with a short film about the life and legacy of Daniel. E. Williams. Here I learned that the whiskey is actually named after Daniel rather than after a condensed liquid as I had previously thought. We were escorted through the whole process from ingredient selection to blending by Mary our expert guide. She was most helpful and readily answered questions from our tour group. The visitor centre is spread over three floors, two lads visiting from New Zealand kindly gave me a hand lifting the buggy up the flights of stairs as the lift was located at the other end of the building.


Seamus my son loved the fact that there was a lot of “hands on” learning so he got to feel the grain and smell apples, cinnamon and other ingredients on display. The tour ends in a comparative whiskey tasting, sampling three of Tullamore D.E.W.’s whiskeys. I loved the chandelier made from empty whiskey bottles and the corridor shaped like a bottle of Tullamore D.E.W. perfect photos for your Instagram feed. I paid €12 for my tour and the children were admitted free, the car park cost was minimal, I think it was about 60 cent.

Fans of Tullamore D.E.W. shouldn’t miss the opportunity to take a photograph in front of the old D.E. Williams Distillery gates located on Patrick Street nor a drink in The Brewery Tap which serves the full range of whiskeys produced by Tullamore D.E.W.

If you were watching my Snapchat (stonetravel) during our break, thanks very much and also thanks to those who recommended places to visit. We visited one of those recommended places and I’ll tell you all about it next week.

Have you been to Tullamore? 
Are there any places you’d recommend we visit around there?


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