Birr Engineering Festival

The inaugural Birr STEA2M Engineering Festival will provide an opportunity for engineering heritage enthusiasts to gather at one of the most interesting scientific locations on the island of Ireland. 

If you would like to learn about the role Birr and Newcastle-on-Tyne played in the industrial revolution of the 19th and 20th Centuries, then do join us in Birr, Co. Offaly from Friday 18 - Sunday 20 October 2024 for a weekend of revelation and celebration of some of Ireland’s amazing engineering heritage.

7 Turbinia Propellors

Full Three Day Agenda

Starting at 9am on Friday 18 October, the three day event includes a welcome reception, four lectures, guided tour of Birr Castle Gardens, lunch, dinner and evening reception on the Saturday, and plenty of opportunity to celebrate Ireland's amazing engineering heritage.

Friday 18 October

9.00 am - 5.00 pm: Discover Birr Castle Demesne by taking on the engineering trail through the gardens and science centre

7.00 pm: Welcome reception with tea and sandwiches followed by opening lecture (1) - 8pm. Note: All lectures in Birr Theatre and Arts Centre

8.00 pm: Lady Alicia Clements – Introduction to the Engineering Weekend Festival

8.15 pm: John Burgess – The Parsons Families of the 19th Century

Saturday 19 October

10.00 am: Lecture (2) - Power on Land 

  • Brian Leddin TD – Chair of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Climate Action – Welcome and Opening Remarks
  • Geoff Horseman (Formerly Head of Turbine-Generator Engineering at Parsons and Chief Turbine Engineer at Siemens Newcastle-Upon-Tyne) – Evolution of the Parsons Land Steam Turbine

11.30 am: Guided discovery tour in Birr Castle Gardens to visit (please note to wear non-slip footwear and outdoor gear for walking on garden trails):

  • The Leviathan and LOFAR Telescopes – Peter Gallagher or Joe McCauley
  • The refurbished suspension bridge
  • Rejuvenated hydro-electric turbine
  • The secret of the lake’s ingenious water level management system

1.15 pm: Lunch at the Kellys Bar

2.30 pm: Lecture (3) – Power at Sea

  • 2.30 pm: Turbinia – a daring entrepreneurial venture in marine propulsion
  • 3.15 pm: Jody Power - Marine Propulsion Steam Turbines from Parsons to the Modern Era

A recess of 2.5 hours from 4.00 pm to regroup at 6.30 pm in John’s Hall

6.30 pm: Reception in John’s Hall, Birr

8.00 pm: Dinner in Dooly's Hotel

Sunday 20 October

10.00 am: Lecture (4) – Power to Change

  • 10.00 am: Benita Stoney - The Stoney family collaboration and achievements
  • 10.45 am: Una O’Grady - Renewable Energy in the Midlands – Wind, Water and Stars
  • 11.30 am: Stephen Grant - Engineering at a time of change – 19th to 21st Centuries parallels to inform a paradigm shift in addressing climate change
  • 12.15 pm: Lady Alicia Clements - Farewell notes

1.00 pm and 2.00 pm: Guided tours of the Castle

Speaker biographies

Read about those involved in speaking at the festival.

Early Bird Tickets

Early bird bookings up to 31 May for special interest groups: €165 

General release from 1 June: €200

The three-day event includes all lectures, refreshments on the Friday evening, lunch and dinner on the Saturday and access to the Birr Castle Demesne with guided tours on the Saturday and Sunday. Accommodation is not included and details are provided below for those intending to stay over in Birr.

5 Mauretania turbine blade ring


Limited accommodation has been held at the following locations until 30 June after which the rooms will be released for general reservations.

Important: Please contact the hotel by email or phone before 1 July to make the reservation. Thereafter the rooms will be released for general bookings through all channels. Do not reserve your room using the hotel’s website or other web-based booking system if doing so before 1st July. Remember to quote the code BirrEngineeringFestival when booking

Please book early when planning your trip to avoid travelling from other towns in the region for each day.

  • Dooly’s Hotel

Tel.: +353 57 9120032


  • County Arms Hotel

Tel.: +353 57 9120791


  • Townsend House

Tel.: +353 57 9121276


  • The Stables

Tel.: +353 57 9120263


Image Copyright

GM Horseman, Siemens Energy and Tyne & Wear Archive.