Of the many gifts of an Irish summer, we most enjoy daylight coming shortly after 5 AM and lasting until nearly 11 in the evening. Before catching an early afternoon flight out of Shannon, (SNN), why not visit Lough Gur which is only about a 30 minute drive from the airport? Of course, there is much to see and experience here so one can make a day trip out of it as well with more time on hand.
Michael Dames, in his epic tome “Mythic Ireland“, shares quite a bit about Lough Gur. The lake is closely associated with the sun goddess Áine who is said to make the waters sparkle by opening the skies to their widest over Lough Gur. The ancient story tellers also had much to say about the area and caution is advised, particularly from the faerie folk. There is even an entrance to a cave rumored to be the entrance to the land of Tír na nÓg. (The entrance is along the path leading to Bourchier’s Castle although not posted.)
On the road approaching the entrance to the site, you come across an ancient wedge tomb on the right. Be sure to stop as there is powerful energy here. Unfortunately, there is only room for one or two cars to park on the left side of the road so a backup plan may be to park at the car park and hike back to the tomb.
The tomb is also known as the Giant’s Grave or Bed of Dermot and Graney. Call me superstitious, as I felt strongly that I had to stay most respectful when visiting here so as not to disturb the goddess and the bansíde of the underworld. Take note of the photo below of inside the tomb. (I had to ask permission of the spirits to take it!) Use a little imagination to imagine young lovers here in ancient times mimicking the union of Dermot and Áine’s alter ego Gráinne.
Arriving at the visitor centre, there is plenty of parking and restroom facilities as well as a very nice picnic area around the lake shore. Enjoy the nice walk along the shore as there are a few sights well marked. From he path one can see an old lime kiln from the area’s agricultural days:
The visitor centre is nicely done and the staff give an excellent overview and presentation of the exhibits which are primarily archeological vs. mythological. One area along the walk which I found particularly interesting was the faerie village:
After stopping by the visitor centre, take the path the other way along the lake shore from the car park and in about 40 meters you can get a view of Bourchier’s Castle on your left. Shortly beyond is Bolin island which is the remains of a man made island, once inhabited. The path eventually ends at a gate which marks the boundary with private property leaving no other choice but to head back to the car park. The scenery and atmosphere at the end of the path though are quite serene and worth lingering a while before heading back.
About a 2 minute drive or a 10 minute walk back up the road from the car park are the stone circles of Carraig Aille. The site is posted by a sign and there is room on the left to park about three cars. The two circles are an interesting visit and also offer a higher view looking back at Lough Gur.