Ring of Lough Derg Day Tour
Ring of Lough Derg Day Tour
Enjoy a wonderful drive around the fabulous Lough Derg on the River Shannon with visits to several interesting and intriguing sites along the way. It’s an area of great charm, natural beauty and heritage.
It’s nestled between the counties of Clare, Tipperary and Galway and has about 110 miles of indented shoreline. It stretches south from Portumna at its northern tip to Killaloe on it’s western shore and to Ballina on it’s eastern side.
Many of the historic sites on the lake are associated with Brian Ború, High King of Ireland, who ruled from Killaloe between 1002 and 1014.
Note: We will visit either Portumna Castle Demesne OR the Irish Workhouse Experience but if time permits we will see both!
Tountinna – About 950 ft high up in the Arra Mountains, mythology says it’s named after a biblical flood that drowned Ireland’s first inhabitants. There was only one survivor named Fionntán and he took refuge here & lived to tell the tale! It has panoramic views of Lough Derg, with 5 Counties visible on a fine clear day – Galway, Clare, Tipperary, Limerick & Kerry.
Nenagh Castle – Built around 1200 by Theobald Walter, First of the Butlers of Ormond, it’s Cylindrical Keep adorns the town of Nenagh & once formed part of the perimeter of the fortress, but only fragments of the wall now remain. Built from limestone, it’s 55ft in external diameter at the base, is 100ft High and features 4 storeys, all accessable via a stone spiral stairs, with 101 steps to the top.
Nenagh Heritage Centre – Unique museum located in the Governer’s House of a 19thC Gaol/Prison.
Learn the history of these unique buildings, experience old Rural Ireland and walk in the footsteps of condemned prisoners.
Terryglass Village Harbour – Immersed in history with St. Columba establishing a monastery here in 548. It was an important centre of learning with the famous Book of Leinster produced here around 1160. This can now be seen in Trinity College, Dublin – St Columba died here in 552 and is buried within the grounds.
Vikings often raided the monastery which was burned to the ground in 1264. Only one wall remains and can be seen at the back of Paddy’s Pub.
There are 2 Holy Wells here – St. Augh’s Eye Well is located on the quay and it’s said that it’s waters will cure eye problems and believers visit the well on Saturdays during May between sunrise & sunset hoping for cures.
St Colum’s Headache Well is in the village and is known as a cure for headaches & migraines.
The old Church was built in 1808 and is now a private house since the mid 1980’s.
Portumna Castle & Demesne – This great semi-fortified house was built around 1618 by Richard Burke – or, de Burgo.
It is a Jacobean-style building which remained the main seat of the de Burgo clan for over 200 years until it was gutted by fire in 1826. Since then and over time, it became roofless and derelict. However, since 1968, the Office of Public Works (OPW) have re-roofed it and major conservation and partial restoration works continue.
The ground floor is currently open to the public with an exhibition on the de Burgo family, it’s history & restoration and Virtual Reality DVD helps to bring the story to life.
The grounds feature formal, geometrically-laid gardens, while a Willow Maze incorporates several different willow varieties and its central path is lined with espalier fruit trees. A 17thC Potager Kitchen Garden has been restored to its original splendour and overall the garden offers the visitor an ideal opportunity to see and experience gardening layout and techniques of yesteryear.
Irish Workhouse Experience: This is a real story in a real workhouse. Workhouses were “The most feared and hated institution ever established in Ireland” and were operated for about 80 years, from the famine years of the 1840’s to the 1920’s. If people couldn’t support themselves, they came to the workhouse where they worked in return for food. This system was known as Indoor Relief and was during a time when landlords could clear the land of tenants if they couldn’t afford to pay the rent. The whole family had to enter together and they had to stay and live in the workhouse, even though family members were split up into separate quarters. This wasn’t a prison and people were free to leave – It’s high walls were for keeping people out, not in!
Holland’s Steam Station at Williamstown Famine Quay: Dates to 1826 and is still in the Holland family who live across the road and who recently refurbished it. Departure point for thousands of people from this area in Famine Times – Picked up by the Steamboat & would eventually find their way to Cobh, Co Cork and travel on to the USA. What was known as “Living Wakes” were held here as the people leaving would probably never see home or family again. In some cases the Landlord would help with the boat fare on condition that they knocked their cottage to the ground the day before their departure.