01 Feb Review: Lough Gur Heritage Centre
Lough Gur Heritage Centre review.
The Lough Gur Heritage Centre was the first stop on our Munster Vales trip.
The region around Lough Gur is a remarkable area of archaeological interest. The landscape features sites that represent every major period of human history in Ireland. Physical evidence of occupation from the Neolithic, Bronze Age, Iron Age, Early Christian, Medieval, Early Modern and Modern eras has been found in the immediate vicinity.
Driving up to the Lough Gur Heritage Centre we passed The Standing Stone: Lough Gur, Wedge Tomb. This dates back to the megalithic period.
We also passed the 15th century ‘New Church‘. They were just right by the roadside. No tourist centre, no carpark, no entrance fee, just free for all to see and explore. I love that!
We parked in the Lough Gur Heritage Centre car park and headed inside.
Lough Gur Heritage Centre review
We picked up a map and also an audio guide. Then, off we set on a 40-minute walk through the woods, up the 110 fairy steps and around the Lough. There is no fee to walk the grounds outside of the Heritage Centre. They are open all year round.
Printed on the map is a Tricky Tree Trivia quiz. This is a series of 10 questions based on the trees found in Lough Gur. The answers can be found on information makers along the trail and via the audio guide. It’s perfect for kids (although, I enjoyed it too!).
The day was grey and drizzly, and the place was practically deserted. It was so quiet apart from the trees swooshing in the wind, the ducks quacking loudly and the cows mooing. It was all very peaceful and calm which added to the atmosphere of magic and mystery that surrounds Lough Gur.
Given how old the sites are and the rich archaeological remains that are scattered throughout the quiet hills and fields it’s no surprise there are plenty of myths and legends surrounding Lough Gur.
As our cold faces got pelted with the rain we listened intently to the audio guide.
We were enthralled by the tale of Áine who lives in the Lough. We loved the story of Gearoid Iarla, the 3rd Earl of Desmond who also lives beneath the lake. The Irish really do know how to tell a great story! The audio guide has us captivated. We stood out in the freezing cold until we heard every last word.
When we finished the walk, we headed back into the Heritage Centre. We warmed up with tea and coffee. We then headed into the exhibition to learn more about the area. Tickets for the exhibition are: child €3, adult €5, family €15 and seniors and students €4.
The Lough Gur Heritage Centre has interactive displays along the walls.
There are artefacts and replicas too that also help tell the history and story of the area. I learned more here in one day than I did in all my time in school! Granted I didn’t pay much attention in school at all.
The exhibit takes you from the Stone Age right the way through to the Post-Medieval Period. You uncover the history of one of Ireland’s most important archaeological sites.
At Lough Gur, there is a whole complex of stone circles, pillarstones, ancient roadways and cairns.
Located near the shores of Lough Gur is Grange Stone Circle, the largest stone circle in Ireland. To the west is Knockfierna fairy hill, home to the god Donn, Lord of Death (maybe don’t tell the kids that bit). Also, nearby are other legendary sites including Slieve Phelim, Harps of Cliú and Slievenamon. I really wish I had read up on the area beforehand, so I could engage with the local folklore a bit more.
In the Lough Gur region, there are 6,000 years of history and culture. So give yourself half a day, if not more, to fully explore the area.
This is certainly somewhere I will be coming back to, with a bit more knowledge next time.
It is the perfect place to bring children as there are loads to keep them entertained as well as wear them out. It’s an excellent place to bring visitors to Ireland who wants to see and understand our rich heritage. It’s also a lovely setting for a picnic, but maybe pick a day when it isn’t raining to avoid soggy sandwiches.
Thanks to Munster Vales for organising our trip to the Lough Gur Heritage Centre and for the use of its photos.
The following are the other blog posts in this Munster Vales series:
Have you been to Lough Gur? Is there anything missing from my Lough Gur Heritage Centre review? Do you have any questions about where to go and what to do? Leave a comment below. I’d love to answer your questions.
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