Hot air balloons dominate Birr sky line

Multi coloured hot air balloons rose majestically into the air above Birr Castle Demesne last week before drifting slowly over the town and away through the sky floating on a light wind towards the slieve bloom mountains.

Multi coloured hot air balloons rose majestically into the air above Birr Castle Demesne last week before drifting slowly over the town and away through the sky floating on a light wind towards the slieve bloom mountains.

This was the 42nd irish ballooning championships (otherwise known as the irish meet) sponsored by shannon development,failte ireland and offaly local development company.

The irish meet is the longest running balloon championship in the world and was first held in 1971 at Newcastle House in Ballymahon Co Longford.

Organised by Joseph Leahy, President of the Irish Balloon Association, an experienced balloon pilot who has flown over the Alps, India, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe the meet attracted about 30 teams from Ireland, Britain, Europe and America.

Always a popular event, the teams return year after year to compete, enjoying the beautiful countryside and friendly people and are grateful to the farmers whose land they come down on .

Although billed as a championship the event is not too competitive, being much more about a ballooning get together with good craic between flights.