There is much to see in County Offaly, one of Ireland’s inland counties. Home to some of the first English settlers, the place played an important role in medieval trade and travel. At the heart of County Offaly is the charming market town of Tullamore. The buildings, which date back to the mid 1700s, are well preserved. The result is a picturesque postcard of the past, and the opportunity to see the irony of buying a very 21st century souvenir item like a keychain or shirt, in a store which very well could have sold corsets or trinkets. The town also continues to sell Tullamore Whiskey, a tradition that dates back to the 16th century. Part of your car travel destination should be Clonmacnoise, which can be found along the Offaly County borders, overlooking the River Shannon. It was considered one of the most important religious sites of early Christian Ireland, and was built in 544 by St. Kieran. The round tower church and high crosses are very beautiful, and the ancient grave slabs are some of the best in the country. Even the road leading to Clonmacnoise held historical significance. The river intersection was one of Ireland’s most important inland routes, and was called “The Highway of Kings.” Don’t forget to drop by Birr Castle Demesne, especially if you happen to schedule your car drive through Ireland during the month of May. At this time, the lush grounds is transformed to its Medieval glory, with jousting displays and tournaments. You can also visit Birr Castle, where some of the most brilliant minds of their time—the Parsons—led the world in their research in astronomy. For 75 years the Great Telescope which still stands in exhibition was the most powerful in the world. exhibited here, was the most powerful in the world.
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