Lough Gur is widely renowned as one of Western Europe’s important archeological centres. Humans have continuously inhabited this area ever since the Neolithic Age, and many treasures were discovered on the shores when the lake level was lowered in the 1800s. The exhibit items and presentations you’ll see here illuminate the story of humanity in this region over a period of nearly 5,000 years. Sites of interest include the remains of an early farmstead dating back to roughly AD 900, a lake island dwelling that can be traced back to as far as the year 500, and a wedge-shaped tomb from around 2500 BC, reputed to have been used as a community gravesite. Perhaps even more intriguing is the Grange Stone Circle, the largest and finest monument of its kind in all of Ireland. It contains 113 standing stones, and has a diameter of 150 feet. Built in 2000 BC, the Grange Stone Circle is older than some of the Egyptian Pyramids. People speculate that its purpose was religious in nature because of the positioning of the stones in relationship to the rays of the sun at sunrise during certain times of the year. The ancient people who built the circle are estimated to be those who first brought metal and horses to Ireland. Lough Gur features a museum complete with exhibits of tools, implements and other archeological finds, as well as informative audiovisual programs. It also houses replicas of the Lough Gur Shield, a Bronze Age Treasure currently displayed at the National Museum in Dublin, and the Countess of Bath Chalice and Paten from the lakeside church, which began Anglican worship in the 1600’s. The museum also provides plenty of information on the botany, zoology, and geology of the region as well as Celtic festivals and folklore. Feel free to enjoy unfettered access to the entire area and use your imagination as you explore this “enchanted lake” surrounded by limestone hills near Limerick City. Wildlife enthusiasts will find a variety of birds here, including the Great Crested Grebe, swans, moorhens, and ducks.
The Lough Gur Interpretive Centre lies about 10 kilometres south of Limerick City, at Ballyneety, on the Kilmallock Road.