Afterwards we went to Birr castle, which the resident Parsons family, including the Earls of Rosse, had made a center of science and innovation especially in the nineteenth century. The place is now largely a museum of the history of Irish science. Notable contributions by the family included the steam turbine engine and the world's first six-foot telescope, a Newtonian reflector with a metal mirror, built and mounted by the Third Earl in the late 1830s and early 40s, for the discovery and cataloging of unknown nebulae and the closer observation of known ones. The crude but massive telescope mounting was inspired (as was the whole project) by Herschel's. The Parsons had also been much involved in early photography, and also gardening, for which the climate is vastly better suited than it is for astronomy. We got a very substantial sample of the climate's less clement side, after the fair morning had seduced us into venturing out on the day's outing without our umbrellas. It was not primarily interest in the Fuchsias that led us to spend more than a few minutes in the greenhouse that stands in the middle of the most formal section of the garden.
When we returned the weather was already ahead of us in trying to dry out, and we even saw a rainbow when we emerged from the car at Eyrecourt. I photographed it across a patch of donkey pasture just across from our house.