Birr is not the first town that comes to mind when trying to organise a family weekend away. We’re just back from the Offaly town and I’m here to tell you that it’s the business. Indeed it’s perfect for a family weekend away and we’ll be back again.
The reason for our break was to celebrate my in-laws’ joint 70th birthdays. It was the first time all the clan, nine adults and six children, went away together. We are scattered all over the place. Some further away than others. There’s the Chambers in Galway, the ones in London and Germany and ourselves in Kildare. None of us, well the Irish based ones, wanted to travel too far so I figured the midlands would be a great location.
No offence to the likes of Mullingar, Athlone, Longford or Tullamore but none of those floated my boat. In the end I suggested Birr and got lumped with the organisation of the whole weekend. I’m sitting at home now patting myself on the back after a super weekend in brilliant Birr.
With five kids between us, myself and my sister-in-law were keen to go self catering. Being stuck in a hotel room with the kids would be minus craic! Finding a house large enough to fit us all in Birr proved trying. However, I finally found one on Home Away in the picturesque village of Kinnitty, just ten minutes drive outside of Birr. It was a great find too. The owner, Jimmy O’Brien was there on arrival to show us around and I was delighted to discover there was a playground right across the road. Oh and it was also right next door to the local pub, The Slieve Bloom Inn. Eh, happy days! With four double bedrooms (three en suite) it fitted us all comfortably and the cousins loved having a weekend of sleepovers together.
Nanny and Grandad Chambers stayed in Birr itself in a boutique restaurant and guesthouse called Spinners. All of us also ate here on Friday and had a special birthday meal in the restaurant on Saturday afternoon.
The best in Birr
Spinners was the icing on the cake for us. The place is divine. Everything from the food, the decor, the staff and the wine are top-notch. The owner Jordan Darragh couldn’t do enough for us. I could actually gush about the place forever. The beautifully restored Georgian building also has a large courtyard, which we had all to ourselves on Friday evening. It was a lifesaver with the kids. They could happily run around and not disturb other guests and diners.
I’m absolutely gagging to get back to Spinners. We re actually thinking of making the trip to Birr and annual family weekend away. However if myself and Daddy Chambers are lucky enough to escape for a night or two on our own anytime soon, we are definitely heading to Birr and staying in Spinners.
On the Saturday we all went out for breakfast and headed to The Loft Cafe after checking out reviews on Tripadvisor. Again, the food didn’t disappoint. Most of us filled up with a full Irish but their sweet treats, particularly their orange and cardamom cake, were out of this world.
Things to do
So what is there to do with the kids you may ask? Well top of the list is Birr Castle. I had never been before and was taken aback at how cool the place is. First up there’s the huge tree house (Ireland’s biggest). Aidan and Sarah were gobsmacked when the seen it! The kids spent and age climbing in and out of it.
There’s also a playground, two big sandpits, picnic benches, a sweet shop, a hobbit hut and a bouncy pillow (basically a bouncy castle built-in to the ground). There’s endless amounts of grounds, with beautiful scenery, to walk, while you can also feed the ducks and swans.
Just up the road from our holiday rental was Kinnitty Castle. With huge grounds and horse riding the kids loved the place. They loved the tennis court and brought their bouncy balls, improvised and played a spot of handball. The castle also has a huge courtyard and with the sun splitting the stones on Sunday, we all had lunch there before heading our separate ways.
In all, our weekend in Birr, was a huge success and we’ll be back. We plan to visit Lough Boora Parklands and perhaps hike in the Slieve Blooms. Birr is only an hour from home so it just may well be our go to destination from here on in.
See my review of our family holiday to Cambrils Park here.