County Offaly is in the province of Leinster in the Republic of Ireland. This is the land of mythical heroes like Cuchulain, the Irish version of Hercules; and Brian Boru, old Ireland’s greatest High King. One of County Offaly’s most famous sites is Clonmacnois. Between the 7th and 12th centuries, this was the largest and most important monastic center in Ireland. According to historians, this was the place where Irish monks “saved” Western Civilization from the Vikings. The ruins from those heady days can still be seen. Another popular site is Birr Castle Demesne. The 17th century fortification is not open to the public, but people come here to see the magnificent gardens and the 19th century telescope that was once the largest in the world. You must be sure to take a Bog Train Tour into the heart of the Irish midlands. You can even take a turn at digging some peat. Also see the Charleville Forest Castle. Dating back to 1798, this is a genuine spooky place that is considered to be one of Ireland’s best castles. It has everything from secret passageways to deep, dark dungeons. If you enjoy a sip of Irish whiskey, take the tour of Locke’s Distillery Museum. This 18th century establishment is one of the oldest pot-still whiskey distillers in the world.
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