World Heritage Site Status Sought For Lough Gur

From: Dunphy Public Relations
Published: Mon Mar 02 2009

Limerick County Council has submitted an application to the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government to have Lough Gur included on Ireland’s Tentative List of potential World Heritage sites.

Lough Gur is located 20 km south of Limerick City in the heart of Ballyhoura Country. The site includes stone circles and standing stones, ancient burial chambers and cairns and Neolithic house sites dating back over 4,500 years.

Cllr. John Gallahue, Cathaoirleach of Limerick County Council commented that the granting of World Heritage Site status would not only help attract additional tourists to Lough Gur but it would help ensure the conservation of the ancient settlement site for future generations.

"In recent years Lough Gur has become an increasingly popular place to visit, especially since the provision of a public recreation and parking area and the opening of the Visitor Centre by Shannon Development in 1981, which interprets the archaeological, natural and social history of the area. It is apparent, however, that the area has not reached its full potential as a regional, national and international visitor destination," added the Cathaoirleach.

The World Heritage List includes 878 properties in 141 countries, which the World Heritage Committee considers as having outstanding universal value. They include monuments and landmarks as diverse at the Great Wall of China, the Great Barrier Reef, the Sydney Opera House, Machu Picchu in Peru, as well as the historic centres of famous cities such as Venice, Prague, Rome and Paris.

Ireland currently boasts two listed World Heritage Sites; Skellig Michael (1996) and Archaeological Ensemble of the Bend of the Boyne (1993).

According to Ruairi Deane, Tourism Product Development Executive, Shannon Development, "Lough Gur is an outstanding heritage and natural resource of international significance containing over 130 listed sites, 28 of which are designated National Monuments. The high concentration of so many exceptional archaeological sites spanning thousands of years gives Lough Gur its distinctiveness as a potential World Heritage location."

Mr. Deane said, "In recent years this sensitive area has been under threat from competing demands and it had become apparent that a major multi-disciplinary study of Lough Gur was required to formulate an effective developmental strategy. Shannon Development was delighted to have played its part in securing funding for the resulting Lough Gur Environmental Management Study."

He continued "The Study sets out a comprehensive list of recommendations to preserve the area’s unique archaeological and ecological riches but also enhance Lough Gur as a high-quality visitor destination. Shannon Development looks forward to working with all project partners to implement this strategy and will continue to invest in Lough Gur with the purpose of raising it to international status as a world-class archaeological and heritage park."

The Draft Environmental Management Study (EMS) for Lough Gur has been compiled by Limerick County Council and supported by Shannon Development, the Office of Public Works, Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, Fáilte Ireland and the Department of Archaeology at UCC.

According to Josephine Cotter-Coughlan, Director of Services, Limerick County Council, "The EMS is intended to provide a framework for the sustainable development of Lough Gur as a tourism attraction, while ensuring that the environmental and heritage qualities of Lough Gur are protected and enhanced."

"The quality, density and range of the archaeological sites concentrated in this relatively small area indicate the importance and sanctity of Lough Gur to man from prehistoric to medieval times. The cultural landscape is largely intact due historically to agricultural intensification and to the lack of structural development in the area and latterly due to legislative protection. The draft plan prioritises the preservation and enhancement of Lough Gur’s ecological, environmental and landscape features."

Ms. Cotter-Coughlan pointed out the importance of developing a plan that had the active support and involvement of the local community.

"There needs to be a better understanding between all the interests that make up such a special and unique visitor destination. Managing the nature conservation and visitor potential of Lough Gur through partnership is therefore at the core of the approach to the EMS. The goal is to ensure that the EMS will be the catalyst to motivate everyone to that success," she said.

Mc. Cotter Coughlan noted the financial support pledged by Fáilte Ireland to the study and the visitor management works carried out at Lough Gur in 2008.

Meanwhile, Tom Tierney, Chairman of Lough Gur Development Co-Op expressed gratitude to Limerick County Council, Shannon Development and other State agencies for putting Lough Gur back on the agenda.

"Not since the mid 70s when the lands at the lakefront were acquired for public amenity and the Visitor Centre opened has there been such a high profile approach to address the issues of the area. It is imperative that the creation of a structured, sensitive and balanced approach to the sustainable development of the site over the coming years takes account of local needs while at the same time develops our amenity to the highest standards."

In an effort to finalise the plan a public information evening has been organised for Wednesday 11 March 2009 from 3-8pm in the Honey Fitz, Lough Gur. The draft Environmental Management Study will also be on display from 2nd March 2009 to 15th April 2009 inclusive at the County Hall in Dooradoyle, the Branch Library Courthouse Bruff, Bruff Post Office; and the Public Libraries in Dooradoyle, the Granary on Michael Street in Limerick, and at

Submissions to the Draft plan should be made in writing to Tom O Neill, Heritage Officer, Limerick County Council, County Hall, Dooradoyle, Co. Limerick or by 15 April 2009.


Note to Editor:
Josephine Cotter Coughlan, Ruairi Deane and/or Tom Tierney are available for interview and further comment. To arrange please contact Mark Dunphy of Dunphy Public Relations on 086-8534900 or

Mark Dunphy
Dunphy Public Relations
Company: Dunphy Public Relations
Contact Name: Dunphy Public Relations
Contact Email:
Contact Phone: 00353868534900

Visit website »