Take a trip to Blackrock Castle, a picturesque fortress on the edge of the River Lee. The castle houses an observatory where you can learn about astronomy and the universe as a whole.
History of the castle
Blackrock Castle was originally built to protect Cork from pirates and invaders, back in 1582. A round tower was added around 1600 to help guide ships. The original four-story tower was destroyed in a fire in 1722 and was rebuilt. Then in 1827, the castle was destroyed in a fire. By 1829 it had been rebuilt, with new out-buildings and a taller tower. In 2001, the castle was renovated to become the observatory and museum it is today.
Explore the universe
The castle grounds have become a center for science and learning. Take a guided tour of the castle to learn about its history, see the dungeon, and head out on the turret to view the harbor. You can also view ongoing exhibits about the castle and Cork, Ireland. Visiting exhibitions are changed throughout the year and show scientific or astronomical works.
Explore the planetarium and watch videos about the stars. The on-site observatory is staffed with professionals doing actual research on planets and stars. The public exhibitions in this science center are an educational yet fun-filled way to learn about the universe. Blackrock Castle Observatory's award-winning exhibit "Cosmos at the Castle" teaches you about life on Earth and life in outer space. There are interactive exhibits such as a station where you can send an email to space and track where it travels, or a Comet Chaser video game where you can save planet Earth.
Kids will find plenty to keep themselves entertained at this family-friendly place. On sunny days, your shadow can be part of the sundial in the castle courtyard. A virtual astronaut named Cosmo helps explain concepts and theories about alien life. There are plenty of hands-on areas, including the SFI Discover Zone, where kids can play with magnets and learn about motion.
Check the Blackrock Castle Observatory website for events that happen throughout the year. Your visit may align with children's engineering workshops, professional development courses, or various festivals. There's a nearby café to try, and a public walkway along the river to enjoy the surrounding nature.
The castle is located just 6 kilometers from Cork's city center, so it's a great day trip. Adults and kids alike will have fun learning about the universe all from the unique setting of a historic castle.