When Miraim at The Old Bank in Bruff told me she had arranged a guide for us at Lough Gur, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had my i-Trails map and had downloaded the audio tours, which had me excited for our visit.
Lough Gur and the surrounding area are so rich in culture, history and magic. And while the MP3 downloads had me looking forward to exploring the area, they didn’t bring the past to life or help us see the magic shimmering across the landscape, the way a personal tour with Michael did.
As Micheal led us from the Lough Gur Visitor’s Center, he not only engaged me, but he spoke directly to my daughters- ages 5 & 7. He told them tales of the first people to live at Lough Gur, sprinkling in bits of Irish to help keep their attention and make them ask questions.
From Cárraig Crothera (Hangman’s Rock), a steep hike above Lough Gur, to the Wishing Seat near the banks, Michael shared the history, discoveries and legends that make this area so important.
Micheal, knowing his audience, pointed out a tuft of trees and bushes about half way up the hill across the lough from where we stood.
“Do you know what that is?” he asked my daughters. They shook their heads no, waiting to hear what Mr. Michael would tell them next. My youngest was a bit worried as they had just heard the tale of the 3rd Ear of Desmond, who lives beneath the waters of the lake.
“That is Red Cellar Cave,” Michael told them, “It’s the entrance to faerie land.”
My youngest, who’s dearest wish is to be a real faerie, wanted to go right away, but quickly changed her mind when Michael warned that she would have to venture in alone.
Michael told his tales in a way that wove history and fantasy together for us. From the Giant’s Grave and the New Church, to the Grange Stone Circle, Michael led us to some of the most incredible sites Lough Gur had to offer. As we stood in the center of the stone circle, Michael confided in me, “I told Miriam I would give you an hour, but no more.” By this time we had spent nearly two and a half hours mesmerized by his knowledge and were running late for our afternoon activities.
“We’ve taken far more of your time than that,” I replied. “Why didn’t you say something?”
“When the company is delightful and eager to learn, the seanchaí (Irish for storyteller/ historian) will always continue,” Michael said as he kissed me on both cheeks and departed.
Arranging Your Guided Tours at Lough Gur
The Lough Gur Guides were established and are led by Michael Quinlan. To arrange your own tour, contact Tracey Dinneen or Annette Rea (087) 285 2022 and 061 385 386.
Red Viking Tours leads a Lough Gur tour every Sunday.
Books About Lough Gur
Micheal Quinlan has written an entrancing Lough Gur Trilogy. This fictional tale begins in 3500BC with the settlement of Knockadoon at Lough Gur. Michael guides you through the Stone and Bronze ages and into early 20th Century Ireland, weaving together known history and imagined characters with such grace that it is difficult to say where the known and unknown intersect.
Many of the known tales of Lough Gur have come from the book The Farm by Lough Gur, which was re-launched in 2010. Along the walking paths near the lough, you’ll see excepts from the book inscribed on metal plates bearing an image of the Sun Shield.
All books are available at the Lough Gur Visitor’s Center, but if you can get them before your trip, I highly recommend them!
Ireland with Kids humbly thanks Michael Quinlan for his time, company and incredible tour of the Lough Gur area. I hope that when we meet next, we can take more time and enjoy a pint or two while listening to your incredible tales!
© 2012, Jody Halsted. All rights reserved.