Birr (Offaly)

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Birr Library - formerly Convent of Mercy
Birr Library - formerly Convent of Mercy

This magnificent Gothic Revival building, which was formerly a Convent for the Sisters of Mercy, was designed in the mid 19thcentury by Architect A.W. Pugin. Offaly County Council purchased the building in 1996 and major conservation works began.

This library hosts a treasure trove of artefacts showcasing local history. Exhibits that feature prominently are the Leinster Regiment and a facsimile of the Macregol Gospels

The Leinster Regiment

This exhibition of memorabilia, books and information relating to The Prince of Wales’s Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians) whose Home Depot was in nearby Crinkle until 1922, has been created by Leinster Regiment Association in conjunction with the Offaly Libraries.   The display also recognises a local hero, Michael Joseph Milne from Crinkle who served with the Irish Guards in the Second World War.

The facsimile of the Macregol Gospel is entrusted to the care of Offaly County Council by the Birr Historical Society and is on public display in Birr Library. This original manuscript was a copy of the Four Gospels created around 800 AD. The 169 vellum leaves are about 345mm high and 270mm wide and the script used therein is called insular majuscule.

This beautiful historic building is something to behold with its original features and priceless stained glass windows. You will also discover a great deal about the unique history of this picturesque town.


Margaret Hensey.   With grateful appreciation to Honor Ridgeway and Offaly County Council for this article.

Type of Building:


Some communities associated with this building

Some ancestors associated with these communities

Some buildings associated with these communities