Lough Gur is at the heart of a remarkable archaeological landscape featuring 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.
It is home to Ireland's largest and oldest stone circle. At one point in time it was also home to the largest concentration of Giant Irish Deer in Europe. Lough Gur has breathtaking scenery along with a fairy trail and tree trail for younger and young at heart visitors.
The Heritage Centre at Lough Gur displays the rich heritage of Lough Gur through interactive multimedia exhibitions that brings to life over 6,000 of archaeology and history. Fully trained and qualified guides are also on hand to answer all of your questions.
The exhibition is suitable for all ages and brings the visitor on a journey through the history of Lough Gur starting during the Mesolithic Era, and progressing until the 19th century.
People come to Lough Gur for its beauty and tranquillity but many more want to find out more about this magical place. In response to this demand, local historian Michael Quinlan established the Lough Gur Guides to allow others access to the wonderful history, folkore and archaeology of the place.
There is now a core team of approximately 10 trained guides who can show you the most historical sites in the area and who will pass on their knowledge to you in a friendly and informative manner. Questions are always welcome to help further your understanding.
A wide variety of tours are available from general group tours held from mid June to mid August to more personalised tours depending on your own requirements.
For further information or to book a tour please contact 061 385186 and prepare to be enchanted by the magic and history surrounding Lough Gur.
Lough Gur is a lake in County Limerick, Ireland between the towns of Herbertstown and Bruff. The lake forms a horseshoe shape at the base of Knockadoon Hill and some rugged elevated countryside. Lough Gur is a shallow lake measuring 3.5 meters at its deepest level. The lake is fed from underground springs and is not free flowing. The lake and the surrounding area is known to be one of Ireland’s most important archaeological sites. Humans have lived in Lough Gur since Neolithic times. The site of Lough Gur is the only area in all of Ireland where you will see visible remains of every age of mankind throughout the centuries.
The Heritage Centre located on the lake front was officially opened in 1981 and was taken over by the local community in 2011. Since this time the Centre has received a full upgrade and refurbishment. The buildings are inspired by the Neolithic houses on Knockadoon. A gradual shore-line is present at the visitor area, with a shallow section of lake reaching up to the maintained lawn. As a result, the area is often used for water sports, though motorised craft and fishing are not permitted on the lake.
Next to the lake there is a castle, or tower house (closed to visitors) near the entrance to the carpark. Named Bourchier’s Castle after Sir George Bourchier, the son of the second Earl of Bath, it lies at the neck of the peninsula around which the lake washes. There is some other architecture dating from more recent times, with the ruins of an early Christian church by the road leading down to the lake.
At the far end of the lake are the ruins of a Norman castle, Black Castle, which is reached by a hill-side walk along the east side of the lake. This is one of the keeps used during the Desmond Rebellions, and is probably the place where the Earl of Desmond secured his authority in 1573 after casting off his English apparel and donning Irish garments on his return to Munster from London.
The Stone Circle:
The stone circle at Grange, the largest in Ireland, comprises a ring of continuous uprights up to 2.8m high, with a diameter of 45m and backed by an earthen bank 9m wide and about 1.2m tall. The entrance on the eastern side is paved and flanked by uprights. Clay has been packed down to a depth of 60 cm across the whole area of the enclosure.
On excavation it was found to be littered with late Neolithic Beaker pottery. Its near perfect shape and the discovery of a posthole in the very centre of the enclosure, indicates that the circle was measured out from a central stake with a rope. Twelve large orthostats have been placed at intervals around the stone ring, each standing directly opposite one of the other ‘axial’ stones. The stones are contiguous rather than free-standing, and the surrounding bank makes it look more like a form of henge monument than a conventional stone circle. This embankment and the precise arrangement of orthostats suggest that this site had a ritual purpose.
It is the largest standing stone circle in Ireland, 150 feet in diameter and enclosed by 113 standing stones. The largest stone is Rannach Chruim Duibh (Crom Dubh’s Division) and is over 13 feet high and weighs 40 tons. The entrance stones are matched by a pair of equally impressive slabs on the southwest side, whose tops slope down towards each other to form a v-shape.
A short distance to the north-north east of the main stone circle, is a second smaller circle, also constructed of large stones. To the north of this is a large leaning standing stone.
The Heritage Centre:
Lough Gur is a magical and mysterious place that is rich in folklore along with a wealth of archaeology and history dating back to Stone Age times. The Heritage Centre provides a fascinating interpretation of the sites associated with Lough Gur. The facility was completely refurbished and upgraded in 2013.
Heritage Centre highlights include: A modern exhibition detailing over 6,000 years of history at Lough Gur, listening points, audio guides, archaeological dig, Neolithic Pot model, AV presentation and interactive touchscreens. There is also a retail area and coffee dock.
Summer opening times:
- Monday to Friday : 10am to 5pm
- Saturday & Sunday : 12pm to 6pm
Winter Opening times:
- Monday to Friday: 12pm to 4pm
- Saturday & Sunday: 12pm to 4pm
Lough Gur, Co. Limerick
Winter Opening Times: 10am to 4pm from Monday to Friday and 12pm to 4pm on Saturday and Sunday.
Summer Opening Times: 10am to 5pm Monday to Friday and 12pm to 6pm Saturday & Sunday