Adare village with its quaint thatched cottages is firmly established on the coach tour route, but it has a kind of charm despite being overtly touristy. The focus on tourists is exemplified by the fact that the largest modern building on Adare’s main street is the Heritage Centre, which is mainly filled with shops, but also has model of the village in 1500.
As well as its renowned thatched cottages, which were built by the Third Earl of Dunraven in the 1820s, and now house craft shops and cafes, Adare has some interesting historic buildings. Desmond Castle, which dates back to the 13th century, looks like the ruin of a fairytale castle after being attacked by English forces in 1580 and then seized by Cromwell’s army in 1657. The ruins of a 13th century Trinitarian monastery is incorporated into the Catholic Church of the Most Holy Trinity.
A well preserved 15th century Norman tower house castle built by the seventh Earl of Desmond in Rathkeale. Tours bring you through the rooms which are kitted out with furniture and decor from different periods in the castle’s history.
Celtic Park and Gardens
History park near Adare, which contains reproductions of ancient stone monuments and dwellings on the site of a Celtic settlement in a scenic setting. The park has an authentic ringfort and life sized models of a stone circle, mass rock, dolmen, lake dwelling, cooking site, stone church, lime kiln and a holy well. The Celtic Park also has a rose garden and caf?.
Pretty area of countryside with waterfalls near Moroe east of Limerick City
Currahchase Forest Park
Forest park with campsite, picnic area and arboretum near Limerick City
Eamon de Valera Museum and Bruree Heritage Centre
Heritage centre in the national school attended by Eamon de Valera in Bruree village, which contains memorabilia and exhibitions on local history. De Valera took part in the 1916 Easter Rising but escaped the death sentence because he was born in America. He worked alongside Michael Collins during the War of Independence to overthrow British rule in Ireland, but then turned against him after Collins signed the Anglo Irish Treaty making Ireland a free state, but leaving the six northern counties to the British. De Valera led the anti-treaty forces in the Civil War against Collins and although the country finally accepted the Treaty, de Valera formed the powerful party Fianna Fail and became Prime Minister of the Dail, (he held the position of Taoiseach three times). He was also made President of Ireland twice before dying in 1975. The cottage which was his former home is also in Bruree.
Grange Stone Circle
The Grange Stone Circle near Lough Gur is the largest prehistoric stone circle in Ireland, with 113 stones. Stone Age and Bronze Age pottery dating back to between 2000BC and 1500BC was found buried in the centre of the circle.
Limerick City, on the River Shannon has a good variety of hotels, B&Bs, eateries, bars, pubs and nightclubs, and has been working to attract more tourists in recent years. Attractions include: King John’s Castle,the main English stronghold in the Shannon region, which was built by the English King in the 13th century and has two siege catapults and a battering ram in its courtyard and a video about the castle’s history (Entry IR?3.50), well preserved Saint Mary’s Cathedral founded by King of Munster Donal Mor O’Brien around 1180, interesting 19th century Saint Saviour’s Dominican Church, King John’s Castle, Hunt Museum private collection of Bronze Age, Celtic and Medieval artefacts, many of which were found near Lough Gur, including the Antrim Cross (Open Tuesday to Sunday, Entry IR?3), Limerick Museum and Limerick City Art Gallery which has works by local artists including Jack B Yeats brother of the poet WB Yeats, attractive Georgian architecture. The Limerick Treaty Stone outside King John’s Castle marks the spot where the infamous Treaty of Limerick was signed in 1690. After the Jacobite Catholic forces of King James II were defeated by the Protestant William of Orange at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 the Catholic forces retreated to the walled city of Limerick. The city was besieged but the second in command of the Jacobite Army, Patrick Sarsfield, managed to smuggle a force out of the city undetected and mounted a successful rear attack on the besieging forces military supply train. Sarsfield managed to secure the Treaty of Limerick, when the Williamites returned the next year, which allowed his 14,000 strong army to travel safely to France and was supposed to guarantee religious freedom to Catholics. The English, however, reneged on the treaty and stringently clamped down on Catholic freedoms throughout Ireland by drawing up the Penal Laws which prevented Catholics from buying land, owning property, taking public office and entering professions like the law in 1695. The laws were strictly enforced well into the 18th century.
Lough Gur Neolithic Site
The Lough Gur interpretative Centre (Entry IR?1.80) has a slide show and exhibitions about the large number of Stone Age and Mesolithic monuments, shelters and graves around the shores of the Lough. The exhibits include a reproduction of the Lough Gur Shield dated at 700BC, the original of which is in the National Museum in Dublin. The remains around the Lough include the large Grange Stone Circle and some other small stone circles, Carraig Aille Iron Age stone fort, foundations of rectangular Stone Age dwellings and round dwelling sites with field enclosures beside them, a burial mound crowned with a circle of standing stones, cairns, a wedge shaped gallery grave near the Centre and a ruined 15th century church. Crock and Bolin Islands on the lake were both Neolithic crannogs (protected man made island settlements). The Lough is shaped like a horseshoe and some of the remains are on the central area, Knockadoon hill, where the ruins of the 13th century Black Castle which belonged to the Earls of Desmond also stand. The lake is also home to many species of waterfowl.