Travel Through Centuries

Bruff - 'A Place of Importance'

The peaceful rural town of Bruff is located in the heart of the Golden Vale of Munster in County Limerick. The town is full of fascinating historical buildings and features, and it is rich in local heritage and culture, contributing significantly to the story of Ireland.

Bruff is also famed for its contribution to the history of the United States of America, as Bruff is the ancestral home of one of America’s most famous dynasties – the Fitzgerald Kennedys. The wonderful Thomas Fitzgerald Centre is a fitting tribute to the world-famous family.

Stay at a nineteenth-century AA 4**** historic banking townhouse The Old Bank B&B renowned for the quality of both accommodation and service and enjoy the stroll through this historic town and footsteps of Kennedys.

You can also download the free audio guide to Bruff as it leads you around this lovely town, immersing you in the history of the town and its surroundings;

If you prefer to get a guided tour of Bruff and surrounding areas, contact Giuseppe Giordano, our local tour guide for this area.

Lough Gur - 'An enchanted Lake'

To the north of Bruff is Lough Gur, a horseshoe-shaped lake bounded on three sides by hills. Lough Gur is home to Gearóid Iarla who was banished to the bottom of the lake by the Goddess Áine. He will return to the surface every 7 years in an effort to break the curse that was placed upon him. Once the silver of his shoes wears thin Gearóid will walk among us again...

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.

In The Heritage Centre located on the lakefront you can find out about the rich heritage of Lough Gur by visiting the interactive multimedia exhibition that brings to life over 8,000 of archaeology and history. The exhibition brings the visitor on a journey through the history of Lough Gur starting during the Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) Era and progressing until the 19th century (1800’s), when the Farm By Lough Gur was written.

Grange Stone Circle - a place of ritual gatherings, sacrifice and worship from prehistoric times to the modern-day.

Grange stone circle is also known as Lios na Grainsi (Irish for "stones of the sun"). Grange is Irelands largest stone circle, consisting of 113 stones. Built ca 2100 BC it is over 150 feet in diameter. A post hole found in the very centre of the enclosure indicates that the circle was measured out from the central point and is the reason for its near-perfect shape. It is surrounded by an earthen bank which in places id three to four feet high and makes it look more like a form of henge monument than a conventional stone circle. Aligned with the rising sun on the day of the summer solstice the sun shines directly in the centre of the circle.

Grange is unique in most aspects. Its orthostats 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. In fact, parallels have been drawn to some of Britains ritual henges, such as Stonehenge, that likewise align their features with solar and lunar events. Grange suggests a high degree of social organization for those who built and utilized it. Accessible to the public, information panel at site, there are guided tours available as part of the Lough Gur tours.

Medieval Kilmallock

If Kilmallock’s walls could talk, they’d have some intriguing tales to tell. The Normans may have built a castle here in 1206, but nearby ruins, unearthed in 1986, turned out to be Neolithic houses built by locals over 5,000 years ago. To be fair to the Normans, it was they who put Kilmallock on the map, turning it into one of the most important towns in Munster.

Kilmallock is set in the valley of the River Loobagh and nestled at the foot of the Ballyhoura Hills to the south with the Galtee mountains to the east. It is an attractive town of great cultural and heritage value, deriving its name from a monastery founded there by St. Mocheallóg in the late 6th/early 7th century. The medieval town was a major centre for religion and subsequently for trade and commerce. It was also politically significant as it was a stronghold of the Earls of Desmond. This dominance is evident in the wealth of medieval buildings that survive to the present day creating a unique urban landscape.

These include the 13th century Collegiate Parish Church and the Dominican Priory, over 1200m of the medieval town wall, including a town gate, the 15th century King’s Castle standing astride the main street and 16th-century houses of the wealthy town merchants.

You can download the free audio guide that leads you on a historical walk around the town. If you prefer to get a guided tour of Kilmallock, contact Kilmallock Museum or one of our local volunteer guides such as Guiseppe Gordano.

Bruree - walk in the footsteps of Éamon de Valera.

The De Valera Museum and Bruree Heritage Centre is dedicated to Eamon de Valera [1882-1975], former president of Ireland and one of the country’s most famous statesmen, it houses a unique collection of personal belongings of this historic figure, as well as a wide range of articles which record life in Bruree in the early 20th century.

This visitor centre is located where Eamonn de Valera grew up. The De Valera Cottage in which he lived is now preserved and the national school he attended houses a museum dedicated to his memory.

The Heritage Centre uses audiovisuals, graphic panels, set pieces and displays of personal memorabilia to tell the story of the village’s greatest son and of the area which is credited with forming his character.

Currently only open by private appointment.

Doneraile Court & St. Legers

Doneraile Court is the stunning centrepiece of one of Ireland’s most beautiful estates. Located on the banks of the Awbeg river in north Co. Cork, the house dates from the 1720s, when it was built by Arthur St. Leger, the first Viscount Doneraile and father of the renowned Lady Freemason.

The house was modified extensively in the 19th century by later generations of St. Legers, creating the imposing and characterful building that can be enjoyed today. The kitchen wing from this period now serves as the home of the Doneraile Court tearooms and is a perfect way to start or finish your visit.

The estate and surrounding village has a strong literary tradition, incorporating figures such as Edmund Spenser, who immortalised the river Awbeg in his poem The Faerie Queene, Elizabeth Bowen, and Canon Sheehan. This legacy is reflected in our cultural programme, launched in June 2019.

Book into one of the fabulous self-catering cottages at Park South Accommodation and book a tour with one of our experienced guides to learn more about the fascinating history of the house and estate.

You can also check out the Doneraile Audio Guide.

Mitchelstown Heritage

Mitchelstown is one of the oldest towns in North Cork and flourished as a centre for markets and fairs; the Thursday markets, re-granted by Royal Charter in 1618, continue to this day. Mitchelstown derives its name from the Norman Family of Fitzdavid de St. Michel who founded the town in the 11th century.

Stay at Ballinwillin House B&B or Firgrove Hotel and explore The Mitchelstown Heritage Trail. This walk introduces you to the history and architecture of the town. The town trail can be walked in about 2.5 hrs and the trail starts in New Market Square.

Don't forget to visit Saint Fanahans Holy Well situated where three streams meet, which was considered a very sacred space in pre-Christian times.

Saint George’s Arts and Heritage Centre is located in the former Church of Ireland parish church in Mitchelstown. The centre is a focal point for historical, genealogical, cultural and heritage events. An interactive interpretive area will tell the story of the region over the centuries. Topics will include the development of the town, the Galtee Mountains and the history of Mitchelstown Castle and the Kingston estate.

Download Mitchelstown Historic Trail Map

Download Mitchelstown Historic Map Brochure