Monday, 5 December 2011

Midlands Region Annual Dinner Dance in Birr

On November 18th I was a guest together with John Power our Director General with our partners at the Annual Midlands Region Dinner Dance which was extremely well attended at the County Arms Hotel in Birr. This Offaly town has a lot of Scientific and indeed Engineering history to recall.

The lands of Ely O'Connell centred in Offaly were planted by the Normans in 1619 and as part of this Birr Castle and 1,277 acres were granted to Sir Laurence Parsons, 1st Earl of Rosse. In Birr Castle the 2nd Earl of Rosse built the then world's largest telescope in the 1840s which has been wonderfully restored as a tourist attraction. Of equal interest to engineers, the Earl's son Charles Parsons invented the steam engine which helped drive the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century.

Birr Castle Courtesy

Birr is a fine town - a mix of early Irish heritage coupled with later Norman settlements. The Town Trail recounts from the time of St Brendan's early monastery where Brehon Laws were passed in 697AD to protect women and children. Much of the present town centre was planned and laid out in the 18th and 19th century by the Earls of Rosse with fine Georgian houses and attractive streetscape incorporating many churches of every denomination in Ireland.

The Midlands Dinner was hosted by the Region Chairman John Jordan Director of Wirtgen Ireland in the agricultural engineering business. Bord na Mona, Offaly County Council Athlone IT and Irish Tar and Bitumen were also well represented at the event. Indeed I was reminded of the important role that Peatland Development continues to play in the economic life of the Midlands by a beautiful presentation of Bog Oak from Ballinahown on the Offaly/Westmeath border which I least expected.

Pictured at the Midlands Dinner Dance were John Power Director General, Kieran Horgan Chairman Thomond Region, P J Rudden President, John Jordan Chairman Midlands Region and Prof Padraic O'Donoghue Chairman West Region
The event was a tribute to John and his very active Committee in the Region. I wish them continued success in the years ahead.

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