Lough Gur: Stone Circles, Fairies, and Swans by Leah Eggleston Krygowski
My first trip to Ireland was planned specifically around a selection of thin places; mystical, ancient areas where the spiritual and physical worlds meet. Our itinerary included visits to St. Brigid’s well in Liscannor, Newgrange in the Boyne Valley, and Poulnabrone dolmen in the Burren, each place proving to be more enchanting and interesting than the last. We also attended the Beltane Fire Festival on the Hill of Uisneach, celebrating the first signs of summer. This was an amazing experience and the perfect way to kick off our trip.
One of the stops on our itinerary was Lough Gur in County Limerick, where we were anxious to explore Grange Stone Circle and the area around the lake itself. Grange Stone Circle is the oldest and largest stone circle in Ireland, with Lough Gur having been inhabited by people as far back as 3000 BC, as evidenced by Stone Age and Bronze Age artifacts left behind. The area around both the stone circle and the lake offers a peaceful and spiritual vibe to those who visit – you can really feel the sacred energy all around you while walking the grounds.
At the lake, we embarked on a self-guided walking tour; winding our way down the main path, stopping to read stone markers detailing the history of the area, and hiking up the 100 steps of the Fairy Trail, hoping to catch a glimpse of the spritely creatures in their natural habitat. The day was overcast and a little drizzly, which only added to Lough Gur’s charm. Looking back towards the lake from the top of the Fairy Trail was truly breathtaking. Low, grey clouds hung almost to the tops of the hills surrounding the lake and lush green trees provided a surprisingly vivid contrast to all of the grey. The peace and beauty of the lake was truly something to see.
On our way back to the car, something in the lake caught our attention, not too far from shore. As we got closer, we realized we were looking at a female swan sitting on her nest. We had seen swans everywhere we had traveled in Ireland but to see one roosting on a nest was pretty amazing. Knowing swans mate for life, we wondered if there was a male nearby. We walked a little further around a clump of trees and sure enough saw the male swan swimming quite closely to the nest, keeping a protective eye on his mate and impending family. Hoping to capture the scene as a reminder of our day, we snapped several pictures of the couple. Our pictures are nice but sadly do not do justice to actually observing the swans in nature.
I started following Lough Gur on Facebook and Instagram, as one does in the twenty-first century, as a way to remember our time here. After we were back home, I received a notice on Facebook that Lough Gur had posted new pictures. I clicked on the link and was delighted to discover pictures of our swan couple and their five new cygnets! I quickly forwarded the post to my travel companions and we agreed it was a full-circle moment to see the new swans swimming with their parents.
Lough Gur is not a place I necessarily would have traveled to had I not been with someone who knew of the area and wanted to share it with us. I am eternally grateful she did and can’t wait to return on my next visit to Ireland.
Guest Blog by:
Leah Eggleston Krygowski is a book reviewer, avid reader, and aspiring writer who recently caught the international travel bug following her first trip to Ireland. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband, John, and their two Cairn terriers. Find her on social media at: