Minister for justice and equality Charlie Flanagan has unveiled several new interactive features at the Science Centre at Birr Castle Gardens.
The enhancements to the centre follow a Fáilte Ireland investment of €50,000 and are expected to draw 35,000 visitors to the attraction over the next five years and generate up to €1.1 million 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 as well as astronomical instruments and photographic equipment used by the Third and Fourth Earls and Mary, Countess of Rosse, in the mid to late 1800s.
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There will also be electrical and engineering equipment on display that originally belonged to Charles Parsons and was used in his experiments, as well as a large area devoted to the botanical work carried out in the Demesne.
The Birr Castle Gardens Science Centre enhancement is one of 19 new technology-driven visitor experiences planned to open across Ireland's Ancient East over the next year as part of Fáilte Ireland's Storytelling Interpretation Grants Scheme.
The Storytelling Interpretation Grants Scheme is designed to transform the quality of interpretation, animation and storytelling at existing heritage and visitor attractions throughout Ireland's Ancient East.
Flanagan stated, "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."
Enhancing Tourism Appeal
Meanwhile, head of Ireland's Ancient East at Fáilte Ireland Jenny De Saulles commented, "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."
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