“ nr Bruff / County Limerick / Ireland „
The next stop on my tour of Ireland is Lough Gur. This is about 21k south/southeast of Limerick, easy to get to on fairly decent roads, until you get near. Lough Gur is one of Irelands most important archeological sites. There is a large number of monuments and also smaller sites to see.
On the site of Lough Gur itself there is the Lough Gur visitors centre. Currently the opening hours are only May through to September 10am 6pm. Entry is about 5 Euros. The visitors centre in itself is quite small but has a few artefacts that have been found at Lough Gur, many of which were found when the main lake was drained slightly to a lake next to it thus lowering the level of the main lake and meaning some interesting discoveries were uncovered, including a Bronze Age Lough Gur Shield (there is only a replica here as the main one is at the National Museum of Ireland). But there is also Stone Age Pottery and remains of a small village which was built back in Early Christian Times. You can wander up the hill past the houses and get a really good view of the lake, make sure its not too wet though as its quite slippery in the wet, and there are a couple of bits where you have to climb up a 2-3 foot high step to get to the next bit, obviously this ok going up but coming down its a bit scary. There is also a short narrated slide show which is quite interesting and tells you the story of the local area and of the Lough.
There is also a small island on site where there were Neolithic Houses excavated during the 1950s. Apparently people settled there from 3500BC which made them among Irelands oldest farmers. Dont think they had any problems with dairy price fixing by the local shops.
There are a few smaller sites of interest dotted around near the main site. These are firstly a Wedge Tomb. This tomb dates back to roughly 2500BC, and when excavated in 1938 was found to contain at least 12 people (8 adults and 4 children). They also found some pottery and flint.
There is also a New Church which was built in the 15th century. Cant say much more really, you need to see it for yourself.
The last main thing is the Great Stone Circle. This is a mini Stonehenge and is the largest in Ireland. It is roughly 150 feet across and there around around 100 large upright stones. This is believed to have been used for pagan rituals in the past including on the Summer Solstice (21st June) when sun shines through the entrance and illuminates a pattern. So it is believed that it was used for astrological purposes. There are also numerous cows that live in the circle. The farmer who seems to own the land has built a fence around the site and although its free to enter the site there is a box for a collection for the fence, however as it doesnt keep the cows out there seems little point. Also there is cow poo everywhere so be careful. The cows generally just lay down and do nothing when I have been there though. Also my wifes dad knows the farmer as he was born in the town next to where Lough Gur is.
You can go on an archaeological tour if you like, however I dont know how much this would cost.
All in all its a good way to kill a few hours if you are staying in the area (JP McManus lives very close by, hed just bought the land of the B+B we were staying at for about 4 million Euros )