The Birr 12

Yesterday my job took me to Birr in Co. Offaly.

For anybody who thinks that the names Muff, Nobber and Effin are strange names for a town (all real places in Ireland) you’ll be amused to know that Birr is the coldest place in Ireland (in the winter).

I did my bit for the Marcothon (running a minimum of 25 mins/3 miles every day in December) and it was a useful way to see the town.

Afterwards I spotted this enigmatic sign outside the neo-classical Johns Hall.

It was an art exhibition and I was the only visitor.

Birr, like most small Irish towns has a skewed demographic so the town are either drop dead gorgeous Georgian street planning and architecture or late 20th Century social housing.

All the middle classes are living in one-off houses in the countryside.

This place is a bit strange – it was built in 1833 to commemorate a dead son.  Behind it is the Council road depot and sitting in the garden in front of it are two truly unique monuments.

To the right of this hall is a cannon known as the Crimean Gun – it was captured in 1855 from the Russians at the siege of Sevastopol.

On the other side is a large limestone boulder known as the Umbilicus Hiberniae or the Navel of Ireland and was supposed to be the ancient marker for the centre of Ireland. It was also supposed to be the meeting point for Na Fianna.

Ireland has great stories!

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