The latest Lonely Planet tourist guide for Ireland suggests that Offaly doesn't feature on many tourist itineraries but deserves far greater attention. The latest guide describes the county as "green and watery", and highlights its castles, bogs and fishing as meriting special attention.
The guide book describes the Midlands area as "brimming with verdant pastoral landscapes, stately homes, archaeological remains and sleepy towns where the locals are genuinely glad to see you". However, it adds that the area is "rarely explored" by those on their first visit to Ireland and therefore is "wonderfully free of tour buses and souvenir stalls".
Birr is described as a "feel good" town that's "one of the most attractive towns in the Midlands" in the new book, while Offaly's county town of Tullamore is described as a "bustling but workaday place". Birr Vintage Week gets special mention in the book that also suggests a visit to Birr Castle Demesne. Local eateries The Riverbank, The Thatch in Crinkle and Emma's Cafe and Deli get the nod, as do The Chestnut and Craughwell's for a drink. A visit to the currently closed Tullamore Dew Heritage Centre is suggested for visitors to Tullamore, along with a trip to see Charleville Castle on the town's outskirts.
Killeen's pub in Shannon Harbour features in a highlighted list of the top ten traditional Midlands pubs in the new guide.
A 10m tall replica of an Egyptian pyramid that stands in a Kinnitty graveyard is highlighted, as is the nearby Kinnitty Castle which is noted as one of Ireland's most renowned. Another castle getting a mention is Leap Castle, which is described as Ireland's most haunted.
The endangered corncrake gets mentioned too, in a section describing Clonmancoise and the surrounding Shannon Callows. Other destinations chosen as "worth a trip" include Shannon Harbour and Lough Boora.