The Great Rosse Telescope at Birr Castle, c. 1880. Constructed between 1842 and 1845 by William Parsons, the reflecting telescope had a mirror weighing 4 tons.
Image: Science Museum/SSPL

Charles Parsons

Charles Parsons was born in London in 1854, but the family home was at Birr Castle, in Parsonstown, Ireland. Parsons was educated at Birr Castle and was brought up in an environment rich with scientific discussion and practical experiments.

His father was the third Earl of Rosse, who was deeply interested in astronomy. During the 1840s he built a reflecting telescope at Birr Castle which was the world's largest for many years. You can see the Rosse telescope mirror on the third floor.