Aoibhinn and Company Sunday 8 September 2013
Aoibhinn & Company with Earl of Rosse, Sir Brendan Parsons and Lady Alicia
Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin interviews the Earl of Rosse, Sir Brendan Parsons and his daughter Lady Alicia.
Sir Brendan worked with the United Nations in Africa and Asia and his daughter Alicia was born when the family lived in Iran. They recall an idyllic life there and in Bangladesh and Algeria. But the death of Sir Brendan's father brought them home to live at Birr Castle in County Offaly.
Both father and daughter attended boarding school and they had very different experiences. They reflect on this and on the changing relationships between parents and children over the past decades.
Birr Castle has a rich heritage. Sir Brendan describes the gardens while Alicia explains how the families opposition to the Act of Union lead to the sons being educated at home instead of in England. This allowed them to pursue their natural curiosity about science. Over the coming generations, they developed techniques for building suspension bridges with extruded metal, developed a steam turbine and most famously built the largest telescope in the world at that time.
When Sir Brendan inherited Birr Castle in 1979, the future of the Castle was unclear. Since then, many families have left the big houses in which they have lived for centuries. While this has saddened him, he is happy that in recent years the future of Birr Castle as a family home has been secured. The Gardens and the the Historic Science Museum are open to the public year round, the Castle for limited hours during the Summer months.