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    Fáilte Ireland investment in Science Centre at Birr Castle Gardens will give €1m boost to local area

    Fáilte Ireland investment in Science Centre at Birr Castle Gardens will give €1m boost to local area

    Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan today unveiled several new interactive features in the Science Centre at Birr Castle Gardens which will bring to life the scientific history of the Castle and the story of the Parsons family who lived there since 1620.

    The significant enhancements to the Science Centre follow Fáilte Ireland investment of €50,000 and are expected to draw 35,000 visitors to the attraction over the next five years, generating up to €1.1m in revenue.

    Visitors to the Science Centre, which is managed by Birr Science and Heritage Foundation, will be able to see a hologram of Mary Rosse, astronomical instruments and photographic equipment used by the Third and Fourth Earls and Mary, Countess of Rosse, in the middle and late 1800s. Also on display will be electrical and engineering equipment originally belonging to Charles Parsons and used in his experiments as well as a large area devoted to the botanical work carried out in the Demesne.
    This is one of 19 new technology-driven visitor experiences to open over the coming year across Ireland’s Ancient East as part of Fáilte Ireland’s Storytelling Interpretation Grants Scheme. This scheme is designed to transform the quality of interpretation, animation and storytelling at existing heritage and visitor attractions throughout Ireland’s Ancient East.
    Launching the project, Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, T.D. said:
    “I’m delighted to see the scientific historical contribution of this part of the country brought to life here at Birr Castle. At one time Birr hosted the largest telescope in the world and indeed Birr has today also been recognised as a European Physical Society Historic Site, which is a great honour for Ireland. Fáilte Ireland investment in projects like this is critical in driving greater tourism growth across the regions and I have no doubt that the new additions to the Science Centre will provide a boost to visitor numbers in the Midlands.”
    Jenny De Saulles, Head of Ireland’s Ancient East at Fáilte Ireland, said:
    “Ireland’s Ancient East has the most extensive range of built heritage in Europe including tombs older than the pyramids, historic castles, ruined abbeys, great fortresses and amazing sites like Birr Castle Gardens and the Science Centre here. At Fáilte Ireland, we are always looking for opportunities to stimulate the development of brilliant visitor experiences, and the new additions to the Science Centre will enhance Offaly’s tourism appeal. This investment as part of Ireland’s Ancient East will deliver significant growth in the number of visitors coming to Birr, bringing greater spend and revenue to the area.”
    The Science Centre provides the inspiration for the exceptional educational department of Birr Castle Gardens & Science Centre, headed by Alison Delaney. This year they will host seventy STE(A)M workshops connecting with Birr’s wonderful scientific history and the STE(A)M curriculum taught within Irish schools. 
    Speaking about the new attraction which tells the story of the heritage and scientific history of the Castle and the Parsons Family who have lived at Birr Castle since 1620, Lord Rosse said:
    “Thanks to Fáilte Ireland, Birr Scientific and Heritage Foundation can continue to push the boundaries in making Birr Castle Demesne one of the most visited attractions in the Midlands. We believe it’s not rocket science to provide entertainment for the whole family, but with our additions to our Science Centre, significant investment this year in the  Playground which features Ireland’s tallest treehouse in Ireland and our internationally acclaimed Birr Castle Gardens, we are leaving nothing to chance! We are thrilled to be providing a magical day out suitable for every member of the family - indeed we feel strongly enough to guarantee the visitor, irrespective of age, a fun filled day of adventure and discovery here at Birr.”
    Grainne O’Malley, General Manager of Birr Castle Gardens said:
    “Following an insightful look at both our customer needs and charitable objectives, some excellent improvements to our science galleries have been made.  The addition of the orientation room and the hologram to the oldest complete dark room in the world has elevated the experience to a whole new level.   The seven science galleries are an attraction in their own right, adding another string to our bow.    Key highlights within the galleries are the new upgrades as well as the Lunar Heat machine, the journey it takes you on including all the wonderful unique and rare scientific pieces that can be found throughout the galleries.”
    Visitors to Birr Castle Gardens can also enjoy morning coffee, brunch lunch and cakes at the Castle Courtyard Café, where all food is freshly cooked every day.  Birr Castle Demesne continues to be a place with something for everyone, created over generations it is an environmental and scientific time capsule, one of the most extraordinary places in Ireland.
    Birr Castle Gardens is open to the public all year round. For opening times and ticket prices please see their website

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