Blackrock Castle Observatory – Why it is Worth the Trip

Five Reasons to Go to Blackrock Castle Observatory Now

Blackrock Castle Observatory (BCO) is always one of the places in Cork where I would like to visit. I am fascinated with castles and BCO is one those that are a bit curious. With my persistence, we are visiting BCO, and also to give our precious daughter a little surprise for her 6th birthday.

The observatory is staffed by researchers from Cork Institute of Technology (CIT).

Visit BCO website here.


A castle first before an observatory

Interestingly, Blackrock castle has served multiple purposes since it was built. It is never a home for the royalty. The castle is constructed as a request by the people of Cork to the queen to protect the city from raiding pirates and enemies. Additionally, it became a place for gatherings and events by the city council. The castle also became a private residence. I think it was a headquarters of the rowing club before it became an observatory. Altogether, the castle is host to the rich history of the city.

Blackrock Castle at Night
A painting of the Blackrock castle

The observatory has a unique architecture

It is only in the early 2000s that the castle became an observatory. It is one-of-a-kind because you will feel the essence of a castle with its magnificent presence, stone walls, cannons and antiques. The touch of modern technology is also evident as there are several interactive multimedia screens, computers and high-end gadgets.

Antiques display at BCO
Several antiques on display at the Blackrock castle.
Old mantelpiece at BCO
An old mantelpiece given by private residents to the Blackrock castle.
BCO was owned by private hands
Says here about the donors of the old mantelpiece.

Blackrock Castle Observatory offers enjoyable introduction to astronomy for kids

You will see an exhibition of the life forms in Earth and in the outer space. Also, you will get to explore the universe, play brain-training games, and use the Galactic Email Station. The most exciting of all is the planetarium, where you will see Cork’s night sky. At the top of the castle is the observatory. You will have to climb over a hundred narrow steps to get there. The exhibit is very interactive especially for the kids.

BCO offers a stunning view of the Cork Harbour​​

Cork harbour is one of the finest natural anchorages in the world, and it is best viewed at the top of Blackrock Castle Observatory. The guide at the tour will tell you more about it, and all the other natural harbours in the world. The view of the harbour at the top of the castle is awe-inspiring. On rare occasions and when you’re lucky, you can view the sunset from the top. It is just wonderful.

BCO offers hearty meals in the dainty restaurant​​

After your tour around the castle, head on to Castle Cafe Restaurant. It is a lovely spot for a romantic dinner with the castle behind you. To cap off our daughter’s birthday, we eat out at the restaurant. It is a good choice for us as we love their food. We ask for a little candle in our dessert so our princess could blow it, and the staff give us more by singing a happy birthday song for her.

If I would suggest something from our experience...

These are two things we noticed from our visit there that Blackrock Castle Observatory management might want to look into.

  • Some of the exhibits are broken, hard to press. Those colorful tubes where you can press to move to the next video or exhibit is not working, or you will have to press hard for it to work. They can fix it or change it entirely. A touchless button I think is more apt for this, especially when they have kids as their regular customers.
  • A lift or something for those with prams or wheelchair. I want this because I extremely recommend everyone to go up the top of the castle. But, it is just not possible for those on wheelchair or carrying a buggy. My husband has to carry our son all the way to top, and, boy, his knees and chin are nearly touching each other. You have an option to stay below, though. But as I said, getting up there is highly recommended. I hope in the future this is available.

Nevertheless, the whole trip to Blackrock Castle Observatory is definitely worth our while. This visit made us all curious and excited to see other observatories.

Here is a short video feature of Blackrock Castle Observatory​

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