Birr Telescope Project Beamed Onto EU Stage

Jim Higgins, MEP for the Midlands-North-West Region, today hailed as “impressive” the plan presented in Brussels to create a new super powerful telescope at Birr Castle, Co. Offaly. LOFAR (Low Frequency Array) is a next-generation radio telescope that is currently being deployed across Europe, with stations already operating in the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, the UK and France. Other stations are planned in Italy, Poland, Latvia and at Birr in Co. Offaly in Ireland.

Speaking after the event, MEP Higgins said “The is aim to build a cutting-edge radio telescope in Birr Castle Demesne, and join

Pictured at the LOFAR event in the European Parliament in Brussels this week, along with (L-R) Leo Enright, International Space Expert, Jim Higgins MEP for Laois / Offaly, Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy TD Laois / Offaly and Dr. Peter Gallagher, Associate Professor of Physics at Trinity College Dublin.

the International LOFAR network. LOFAR will give new views of the Universe and inspire young scientists and engineers. The Birr project could one day become a tourist interpretive centre if successful. The project is ambitious, but I am confident the team behind the project will succeed and they gave an excellent presentation here in Brussels today. The Birr plan is Big, Bold and Brilliant. It will be of great benefit to the next generation. I’ll be there to support them at EU level in every possible way.”

As it is, Birr Castle already attracts 50,000 visitors year.  “The project will build on the success of the existing facility, and help turn Birr into the capital of European Science, Astrology and Innovation,” noted Fine Gael’s Jim Higgins. I-LOFAR are seeking Donors to support this exciting project, following generous donations from Dermot Desmond, Denis O’Brien and Joe Hogan.


The Irish LOFAR station (I-LOFAR) will not only bring Irish researchers to the forefront of astrophysics and ICT research, but will provide a platform for educational outreach in mathematics, physics, and technology to students of all ages. I-LOFAR will result in Birr becoming a leading E-Town, therefore enhancing the area’s reputation as an attractive location for ICT-based companies, and the accompanying visitor attractions will be pivotal in promoting science education and tourism in the Irish midlands. These are both strategic goals of the Irish Government’s Rural Development Programme (2007-2013).

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