AHEAD of the Solstice celebrations in Lough Gur commencing this Tuesday a freshly printed heritage guide was launched at the lakeview visitor centre.
Funded by the OPW, the heritage guide is a synopsis of prehistoric archaeology surrounding this internationally significant location. Minister for State Patrick O'Donovan officially launched the guide.
Written by Rose Cleary, senior professor of archaeology from UCC and author of The Archaeology of Lough Gur, the information is expertly presented by Rose who has studied and excavated in Lough Gur for over 40 years.
With the assistance of illustrations by RHA artist Robert Ryan, both professionals succeeded in bringing the history of Lough Gur to life. The newly launched heritage guide briefly captures the global significance of Lough Gur in a way that is accessible for educators and a general audience. For readers of the Archaeology Ireland magazine, heritage guides have become collectors’ items, coveted by specialists to help interpret Ireland’s heritage.
Speakers on the day included chairperson of Lough Gur Development Aine Barry who said "the publication of the heritage fuide for Lough Gur by the OPW signals further recognition by the State of Lough Gur’s importance in archaeological and historical terms".
Referencing her father and founding member of Lough Gur Development Michael Quinlan, Ms Barry reflected, "Michael had always wanted to see an Archaeology Ireland Heritage Guide for Lough Gur and would I’m sure have been very glad to see the day had finally arrived".
Author Rose Cleary took to the podium as a forceful speaker calling in her own words for "further engagement with the OPW to ensure Lough Gur is protected for future generations". Rose went on to highlight Lough Gur’s importance as the only place in Ireland where there is evidence of every age of humankind from the very beginning to modern-day times, commenting "Lough Gur requires support at a higher level to find a balance between minding our heritage and allowing visitors to connect directly with the past to help inform our future".
To add to the occasion and as a member of the local community, RHA artist Robert Ryan spoke about the inspiration he receives from being immersed in Lough Gur for a lifetime. Robert’s paintings for the heritage guide visually recreate what prehistoric life may have looked like in Neolithic times further reinforcing the idea that the connection between people and place forms the heart of every community.
Minister O’ Donovan was the final speaker on the day to formally launch the Lough Gur Heritage Guide. Praising all involved in bringing Lough Gur to wider recognition, he said: "I would like to thank the community volunteers as well as Professor Rose Cleary, whose passion and tireless work have continuously advanced our knowledge and appreciation of this ancient heritage site. I am delighted that their dedication is bearing fruit in growing visitor numbers year on year who come to discover this special place.
"With Lough Gur becoming ever more popular, it will be important to develop and manage visitor facilities by the lake in a sustainable manner. The Lough Gur Heritage Guide published with the OPW’s support marks an important step in making sure that Lough Gur’s monuments and many layers of history become better known and I look forward to developing our involvement and to further interpreting Lough Gur’s heritage and protecting the surrounding sites."
To conclude the event, Kate Harrold, manager for Lough Gur, thanked the minister, members of the community, OPW, Limerick City and County Council and invited guests for their unfaltering support to bring Lough Gur to an envious point in time where the community now have excellent working relationships with all relevant State agencies, to care for Lough Gur long term.
Adding that as the heritage of Lough Gur spans over 9,000 years, "We look forward to the publication of the second Archaeology Ireland Heritage Guide in July 2022".
The launch ended with the announcement that Lough Gur has become formally listed as a destination through Heritage Ireland, the promotional for historic sites under the OPW. As a registered site under the OPW Heritage Site Pass Card, Lough Gur will enjoy national and international promotion through association.
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