The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage has a useful section on their site showing the mapping of historic demesnes in Offaly. See www.buildingsofireland.ie
Flights of Fancy, Follies Families and Demesnes in Offaly by Rachel McKenna (Offaly County Council 2017)
For an insight into Offaly's landscape demesnes, the book Flights of Fancy, Follies Families and Demesnes in Offaly by Rachel McKenna (published by Offaly County Council 2017) is recommended. It is available in all branch libraries or for purchase from Offaly History on Bury Quay Tullamore, Midland Books High Street Tullamore, and Birr Castle and Gardens Shop for €30.00.
Gardens open to the Public in Offaly
Birr Castle Gardens, Birr Town. These gardens have a rich history. They were originally landscaped in the 18th century by Sir William Parsons, and over the generations the Parsons family have added to the the Demesne and increased its beauty and interest. It now has plant material collected and subscribed for by 3 generations of the Earls of Rosse, as well as some of the most famous plant hunters past and present. It was the first garden in Ireland to receive specimens of Metasequoia glyptostroboides (Dawn Redwood) after its discovery in China in 1945. The garden comes alive in spring with spring flowering bulbs and a vast Magnolia collection. For further details see Birr Castle Gardens and opening hours.
Fancroft Mill and Gardens, near Roscrea The Gardens at Fancroft were created in the 1990s by the previous owner, Angela Jupe. They cover 1.5 hectares and feature both structured and informal areas, herbaceous borders, woodland, fruit paddocks and a kitchen garden in addition to three unique garden houses. Streams, wells and natural springs are integral to this site and as a result the hypnotic sound of running water and the rhythmic revolving of the mill wheel are the background sound track to your visit to Fancroft. See www.fancroft.ie
Bellefield Gardens near Shinrone 'The walled gardens are built of local Tipperary sandstone with brick along the south-west facing warm wall. No sign of the original glasshouse remained so an old style Victorian glasshouse, using salvaged materials was constructed in 2008. A fantastical folly surrounded by a fernery was built in 2007 and it forms the focal point of the garden. The garden is my passion. My favourites, such as snowdrops (over 100 varieties), old daffodils, French roses, peonies and irises are planted in abundance.' Angela Jupe. For full details and occasional events see www.angelajupe.ie
Woodland Cottage near Birr, Woodland Cottage Garden is a member of the Lough Derg Garden Trail. Located in Birr, County Offaly, the garden has been evolving over the past 30 years and consists of three distinctive areas. To the front of the house is the main lawn, which is flanked by a large mixed herbaceous border on one side. A hidden path leads down to the new rose garden. Here visitors can admire the many circular shapes of the borders, reflection pond and pergola. Continuing along the rustic path, there is the woodland area. The semi-mature trees are under-planted with spring-flowering bulbs, Hellebores, Anemone nemerosa, Hostas and many other interesting woodland species. Cross the avenue and follow grass pathways that meander through a meadow filled with some fine specimens of both mature and semi-mature trees. Of particular interest are some old heritage apple trees. After viewing these areas visitors can explore the smaller gardens nearer the house. To one side is an enclosed yard garden, filled with spring-flowering bulbs, nepeta-edged borders and fiery red plants in the autumn. A beautiful Acer ‘Osakazuki’ under-planted with ferns, lily-of-the-valley and hostas dominate one corner.