Birr is situated on the River Camcor and the first recorded indication for a settlement in Birr dates to the 6th century AD when a monastery was founded by St. Brendan of Birr. An Anglo-Norman castle was built at Birr in 1208. Birr may then have been under Anglo-Norman control until the early 14th century when the Gaelic-Irish O’Carroll dynasty re-established themselves in Ely O’Carroll and from then until the late 16th century Birr was a major O’Carroll stronghold.
Sir Laurence Parsons was granted Birr Castle and 1,277 acres of land in the Plantation of Ely O’Carroll in 1619. The town of Birr, also in the past called Parsonstown, developed under Sir Laurence’s guidance. In the 19th century, Birr was a hive of scientific discovery. The Third Earl of Rosse built a giant telescope, his wife, the Countess Mary, was a pioneering photographer and their son Chrales Algernon Parsons invented the steam turbine engine. Birr was enlarged in a number of phases from the mid 18th to the early 20th centuries. Emmet Square (1747) represented the earliest phase of Georgian Birr. Later phases produced Oxmantown Mall (c.1816), and John’s Mall (c.1933). Copies of the Birr Town Trail & Riverbank Walk are available locally.
Route 1 explores the Birr Town Walk and covers a distance of 1.2 km.
Route 2 is named The River Bank Walk and is measured at 1.1 km.