+353 (0) 63 91300 reception@ballyhoura.org

BRUFF “An BRú” A Place of Importance

Bruff is a quaint town in east County Limerick, located on the old Limerick–Cork road (R512). The town lies on the Morning Star River, where two bridges crossing the river create two beautiful parks. For ease of navigating Bruff, please feel free to download this Audio Guide (in MP3 format); Bruff Audio Guide FREE!! http://abartaaudioguides.com/Bruff-Heritage-Trail

Attractions in the Area with in 15 minutes Drive

  • Thomas Fitzgerals Centre (JFK Museum)
  • Old Irish Ways Museum
  • Lough Gur
  • Grange Stone Circle
  • Kilmallock, medieval Walled Town & Abbey
  • Adare, Irelands Prettiest Village
  • De Valera’s Cottage and museum
  • Ballyhoura Mountains – Mountain biking and walking
  • Bruff Courthouse / Thomas Fitzgerald Centre (JFK) of 1926 replaced an earlier three-storey courthouse. Events occurring in the courthouse led to reforms in the legal profession which are documented by the plaque on the facade, the Plaque reads: ‘Arising Out Of Events Which Took Place in Bruff Courthouse in 1829, The Right Of The Citizen To Professional Representation In Magistrates Court Was First Established. This Plaque was unveiled by Justice Mary O’Halloran on Thursday October 2nd 2003’.

This building retains several important features such as the portico, which adds artistic interest and a sense of grandeur to the building. The older building was destroyed by local Republican Volunteers during the War of Independence in 1921, to pre-empty its occupation by British forces. Since taking on responsibility for the Old Courthouse some years ago, Bruff Heritage Group have brought this old building to life and has been renamed The Thomas Fitzgerald Centre by Caroline Kennedy on June 21st 2013.

The Centre has a permanent display of pictures of Caroline Kennedy’s visits and the connection of Bruff to the Family of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. A Walking Trail starts outside the centre and maps are provided. Web: www.bruffheritagegroup.com

The connection between Bruff and the Family of John Fitzgerald Kennedy has long been established and has appeared in a number of publications. In October 1994, Mrs. Jean Kennedy Smith in her role as United States Ambassador to Ireland visited Bruff and witnessed the various locations that her ancestors emigrated from and read the parish records which authenticate this relationship between Bruff and the Fitzgerald’s.

D04 Thomas Fitzgerald 6pp DL-page-001D04 Thomas Fitzgerald 6pp DL-page-002

Thomas Fitzgerald was JFK’s great grandfather on his mother’s side. He was born in Bruff, County Limerick in 1823. He was a farmer and lived in a rural part of the Parish. Although the Fitzgerald farm was affected by the Great famine, Thomas managed to keep the farm going until 1854, when he left Ireland and carried with him a family bible. He settled in Boston, Massachusetts and in 1857 married Rosanna Cox who had arrived in Boston from County Cavan, Ireland.
John Kennedy’s great-grandfather on his fathers side Patrick Kennedy, left Dunganstown, County Wexford during the Great famine and became a cooper in Boston. The Kennedy home in Dunganstown was turned into a museum in 1999. In 1849, he married Bridget Murphy, who was born about 1827 in Owenduff, County Wexford. Nine years later she was a widow with four small children, the youngest of whom, Patrick Joseph Kennedy, would become John F. Kennedy’s grandfather the Mayor of Boston (Honey Fitz).

On September 18, 1889, John Francis “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald married Mary Josephine Hannon of Acton, Massachusetts. She was the daughter of Michael Hannon and Mary Ann Fitzgerald, both born in Ireland. Their daughter, Rose Elizabeth Fitzgerald, was born on July 22, 1890 in Boston. She was John F. Kennedy’s mother. In all, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy would have nine children, four boys and five girls.
In November 1887, Patrick Joseph “P. J.” Kennedy married Mary Augusta Hickey, daughter of James Hickey of Cork, Ireland, and Margaret M. Field, also of Ireland. Their son, Joseph Patrick Kennedy, was born on September 6, 1888 in East Boston. He was John F. Kennedy’s father.

Over a century later John Fitzgerald Kennedy would lay his hand on that same bible as he took the oath of office while remembering his poor immigrant ancestors. One can only imagine the reaction of the Fitzgerald’s on the way to “the land of the free” had someone predicted the future importance’s of the same bible.
This Bible is on display in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston. A clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court held the large bible as John Fitzgerald Kennedy took his oath of office as 35th President of the United States on January 20, 1961. The Bible is an 1850 edition of the Douay English translation containing a handwritten chronicle of the Fitzgerald family from 1857 and including a record of the birth of John Fitzgerald Kennedy on May 29, 1917.

The Original Fair Green was rectangular in shape until it was later divided into two triangles. The stone walls are a later addition. Fair Greens were places of trade, sometimes dating back to mediaeval times. They were also used for public entertainments and occasionally for military purposes.

The Community Cafe is a hive of activity and knowledge that provides refreshments and a chance to meet locals for a good chat and free wifi connection.

The Seán Wall memorial commemorates one of the local Volunteers who died during Irelands fight for freedom. Sean was co-owner of a building contracting firm which was involved in building several creameries in county Limerick. He was actively involved in the East Limerick Brigade and known by the codename of Circus. He took part in an attack on Kilmallock barracks in 1920. In June 1920, he was elected chairman (mayor) of Limerick County Council. However, less than a year later, he died in a military action in county Tipperary.

The Catholic parish church, Saint Peter and Paul’s is a particularly interesting feature of the village; work on the church was begun in 1829 and was completed in 1833.

The Old Royal Irish Constabulary Barracks (1870) on Main Street is preserved as a listed building

Accommodation & Food

If you are looking for accommodation for your travels around Bruff and the surrounding area, please take a look at the 4 star The Old Bank, Bed and Breakfast, where accommodation ranges from jacuzzi ensuite rooms to Four-poster Bedrooms. www.theoldbank.ie

If you are looking for some much needed nourishment, look no further than the Bakehouse restaurtant – www.bakehouse.ie, Clancys Bar & Resturtant or Crumbs cafe, or the 4 public bars, all of these are located within walking distance on main St. of each other!!

Festival & Events

Bruff has very active BGM Committee and holds An Annual Summer Festival. The Bruff festival has been held since its inception in 2006. It includes the Morning Star Rose Competition and the Morning Star Escort Competition (since 2008). In celebrating our American Connections the “4th of July” BBQ is not to be missed.
St Patrick’s Day March 17th is always full of colour and represents the towns clubs and societies. Bruffs Blue grass festival is becoming a regular on the calendar of events.

Please Visit www.visitballyhoura.com for the most up-to-date guide
History & Heritage

The area around Bruff is quite scenic, and the horse Shoe lake at Lough Gur loughgur.com,is Irelands most important Bronze Age Site, with dozens of Neolithic (4,000 to 2,500BC) and Bronze Age (2,500 to 500BC) sites located beside and near the lake. It ranks as one of Europe’s five most important Bronze Age areas. Thousands of important artifacts have been found in the area since the 1850’s, and The Stone circle consists of over 113 large standing stones on a raised earthen bank and is over 50 meters in diameter and at least 4,000 years old.

The picturesque Morning Star Park, through which flows the gentle river. The park was developed and is maintained by Bruff Tidy Towns Committee, FAS and Limerick County Council.

Lisá­n a Bhrágha – ˜The Little Fort of Bruff is a 1,200 year old ring fort about 70 metres in diameter beside the Morning Star river. These were probably defended farmsteads, usually associated with chieftains or kings. In 1840, it consisted of a single mound with two moats, but some of these features have since been removed. The area around the ring fort has been developed as a public amenity, suitable for picnicking.
A de Lacy tower house (castle) was still standing here in 1895.

A 19th century flax mill once stood further up river toward the waterfall. This later became a treacle factory. It had a 60 metre long frontage standing three storeys high. Ballygrennan Castle is one of two de Lacy castles in Bruff. The first was a tower house dating from the 13th century. The Norman family of de Lacy held Ballygrennan, 2km south of Bruff, on behalf of their Geraldine overlords. Built in the early 16th century, it is one of the finest ruined castles in Ireland, with extensive walled bawns, two court yards and a high centrally placed tower.

The Church of Ireland parish church of Bruff overlooks the Morning Star. Built in the 17th century, it was refurbished in 1850 by Rev. Godfrey Massey. In the graveyard beside it is the burial vault of the De Massey family, bearing the families crest The Church is now a welcome performance and meeting space in town.

Adelaide School, south of the river, was built and operated by Rev. Godfrey Massey, who wished to provide education for local children. Known as ˜The Orphans Friend, Rev. Massey also founded the Limerick Protestant Orphan Society.

Carbery Arms Hotel by the river was associated with Lady Mary Carberys book, ˜The Farm by Lough Gur.

The Faithful Companions of Jesus (FCJ) Sisters came to Bruff in 1856 and built a very impressive building which still remains and is home to Limerick Football Club and will become a training accemdy. Schoolhouse Lane is a short cul-de-sac off the west side of Main Street. This is the location of the Seán Ó’Riada (1931-1971) memorial plaque. Seán was the outstanding Irish traditional music composer of the 20th century. He gave his first public performance in Bruff. Seán later became director of music in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, and later returned to his alma mater at University College Cork, to lecture in music. The old village pump can be found at the eastern end of Chapel Lane. A horseshoe-shaped platform with a pump provided an efficient water supply and convenient washing place for humans, animals and vehicles, including, according to local tradition, elephants from a travelling circus.

A Royal Irish Constabulary barracks stood at the entrance to Old Chapel Lane. In use until 1874, four tiny detention cells can still be seen behind the main building, which has since been converted to two private dwelling houses.

Saint Patrick’s Monastery was a Christian Brothers School, opened in the 1850’s. The Christian Brothers were once the most widespread male teaching order in Ireland. However, in 1907, the De La Salle Brothers took over the brother’s school and taught there until 1972.

A scenic 3.5 km Slí ná Sláinte Walk has been reopened on the “the old Cork Road”, running parallel to the Limerick road has changed little in the past 200 years Leads you to Holycross a place name that recalls its associations with the Canonesses of Saint Augustine, who had a convent nearby in the tenth century and to Lough Gur. A Cholera Infirmary stood here during the Great Famine (1845-1851). During that period, the population of Bruff fell from 1,200 to 700.

Old Irish Ways www.oldirishways.com/ is a folk heritage museum located near the east Limerick town of Bruff. The museum was started back in 2008, with an idea of preserving the past for future generations. Exhibits recapture what life was like over 100 years ago

Cahirguillamore House was the scene of the death of five Republican Volunteers on 26th December 1920. The volunteers were amongst a large group at a dance in the house, celebrating Saint Stephens’s night, when it was surrounded by a force of British troops, of whom one died in the incident.

Garden Trails

Ahern’s Garden centre The Nursery/ Garden Centre was established in 1992 and are proud to be one of the largest Wholesale and Retail plant producers in the region. Because they grow the majority of plants at the Nursery, the stock is top quality, suited to the local climate, and excellent value for money. Ahern Nurseries, Sherin’s Cross, Kilmallock, Co. Limerick, Ireland. Phone: 063 98988

Terra Nova Gardens This highly acclaimed half-acre garden is open daily March to October is made extra special by being home to Terra Nova plants, a Small nursery specialising in rare and out-of-the-ordinary plants. It has been rate one of Ireland’s top 10 small nurseries. There is also a small shop and tea area available. Phone: 063 90744. Dromin, Co limerick

Rockbarton Garden centre is a family run plant lover’s paradise, Call in for a browse, some helpful advice along with planting ideas at Rockbarton stud, Holycross, Bruff, Co Limerick. Phone: 061 389833

Sport / Recreation

  • Bruffs Gaelic Athletic Associations ( GAA) sports field opened in 1956. It is beside Bruff pitch-and-putt course.
  • Limerick Football Club – LFC are developing the old Convent as a State of the art training academy www.limerickfc.ie/
  • Bruff Rugby Club has grounds at Kyle, Kilballyowen. The club enjoys a national reputation and has provided players for Irish national rugby teams.
  • An Brú is quickly becoming one of the biggest running clubs in Ireland
  • Bruffs Playground was officially opened in 2015
  • The 3.5 km Slí ná Sláinte Walk
  • The Thomas Fitzgerald walking trail


Teampláin church and graveyard, north of the town, was founded by the Normans. Traces of the church (teamplán means ˜little church) are no longer visible.

Field Marshal Ulysses Maximilian Browne was a member of the Browne family of Camas, near Bruff. The Brownes became marshals of Austria, Russia and the Roman Empire.

Kyle graveyard was the burial place of the Bruff/ Boston ancestors of US President John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Tullybrackey graveyard has a ninth century church ruin.

St Peter & Pauls
Carbery Mausoleum
St Molon
St Peter Alexandria