14 Aug 2022

'Very Impressive': Memorable Offaly visit for Dutch ambassador

'Very Impressive': Memorable Offaly visit for Dutch ambassador

Professor Peter Gallagher with the Dutch Ambassador Adriaan Palm in the I-LOFAR visitor centre

Birr Castle, Gardens and Science Centre welcomed the Ambassador of the Netherlands to Ireland, Adriaan Palm for a tour of the Leviathan telescope and the I-LOFAR centre on Friday, February 28..

Met by Professor Peter Gallagher, from the I-LOFAR project, the Ambassador was given a brief history of the great telescope including how interestingly, the barrels for the telescope were built by Guinness coopers and brought by canal barge from Dublin to Birr Castle in the 1840s.

Of course, the Dutch invented the telescope the Professor then remarked to which the Ambassador said he actually had an interest in telescopes himself. Going through the history of the telescope and its discoveries, Prof Gallagher then walked the Ambassador to the “next chapter” of astronomical history, situated in the Castle demesne, the impressive I-LOFAR telescope.

Mentioning the fantastic Dutch-Irish connection with this significant project, Prof Gallagher said that LOFAR was initially proposed by a man called George Miley, who is an Irish-Dutch professor and these telescopes are now dotted all round the Netherlands. “There was a big investment in this by the Dutch government,” Professor Gallagher added.

As the Ambassador approached the I-LOFAR site, the professor mentioned several Irish-Dutch connections on the site including the use of a Dutch engineering feat in dealing with a flooding issue that prevailed at the site.

The I-LOFAR in Birr forms part of 12 international stations across Europe and was constructed by a Dutch company, which the Ambassador was delighted to hear before they began to talk about the “big data” collected by the super telescope, located in the grounds of the castle.

Later while visiting the I-LOFAR visitor centre, the Dutch ambassador met with Orla Martin, Head of Enterprise, Local Enterprise Office, and Cllr John Clendennen where he was impressed to hear about the work already been carried out and the future developments on the cards at the centre and also within Offaly.

 Later, the Ambassador wrote: 

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