MINISTER for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Jimmy Deenihan TD, has officially relaunched Lough Gur Heritage Centre – the site which tells the story of Lough Gur from the coming of Neolithic man some 5,500 years ago.
The centre, which was previously operated by Shannon Heritage, a subsidiary of Shannon Development, was originally built in 1980 and opened in 1981.
It has now been relaunched under the management of Lough Gur Development Association, in association with Shannon Development, Limerick County Council, Shannon Heritage, Ballyhoura Development, Ballyhoura Rural Support Scheme and the local community.
The history of the Lough Gur area is presented at the Heritage Centre through an audio-visual presentation, display panels and archaeological artefacts from the Stone, Bronze and Iron Ages and onwards. The most impressive artefact in the centre is a replica of the Bronze Shield of Lough Gur (the original is in the National Museum).
“Lough Gur is one of the most important heritage locations in Ireland in terms of its abundance and concentration of history, archaeology, folklore and wildlife. It attracts visitors from all walks of life to sample its diverse offerings,” said Minister Deenihan, commending Lough Gur Development Association and their project partners.
“Lough Gur Development Association, and their partners, are to be congratulated on their initiative to revitalise the Heritage Centre, which will help promote the attractions and heritage of Lough Gur to a wider national and overseas audience,” he added.
Tom Flynn, chairman of Lough Gur Development Association, described the relaunch as “an exciting day” for the local community in Lough Gur which is now taking on responsibility for the future development and promotion of Lough Gur Heritage Centre. “I would like to thank our partners, Shannon Development and Shannon Heritage, Limerick County Council and Ballyhoura Development, and in particular, the local community surrounding Lough Gur, for their support and encouragement,” he said.
According to Mr Flynn the community of Lough Gur realise that they have inherited “a very precious national heritage asset” which they have a responsibility to preserve and share with others.
“In this regard, we intend to work closely with the relevant government departments and agencies in the months and years ahead, to develop a strategic plan for the Heritage Centre, to improve the building structure and enhance the visitor experience. Our aim is to increase visitor numbers to the centre and to the lake itself, and thereby contribute to the socio-economic development of the area, while at the same time being mindful of the area’s archaeological and historical past and unique biodiversity,” he said.
Lough Gur Heritage Centre is open Tuesday to Friday from 12 noon to 5pm, and on Saturday and Sunday from 12 noon to 7pm. A small shop at the centre sells tea, coffee, ice-cream, books and magazines of local interest, and a selection of Lough Gur related merchandise. For further information contact 061 385186.