The spirit of Old Ireland lives on in Shannon. On the wide estuary of the River Shannon, on the open moors or in the deep woodland, bog cotton danced in the breeze admidst a blaze of color from heather, gorse and hawthorn. This is a view of Ireland in ancient times.
Learn about the heritage of Ireland in the Shannon area by visiting these Ireland heritage sites:
Adare is regarded as a fine example of the medieval fortified castle in Ireland and is one of a number of outstanding castles situated in County Limerick. It is sited on the north bank of the River Maigue in a strategic position on a substantial earlier ringwork where it was able to control traffic on the river. It was an important stronghold of the Earls of Desmond. A strong, square keep forms the defensive core of the castle that stands within a walled ward surrounded by a moat. Beside the river is the great hall, with early 13th century windows looking out on to the river, and nearby is a kitchen and a bakery.
A monastery was founded here by St. Brendan 'The Navigator' in the 6th century. There are three medieval churches, an ogham stone and a number of early Christian and medieval grave slabs on the site today. The earliest building is the cathedral which dates from the 12th to 17th centuries. It has a fine Romanesque west doorway, a magnificent 13th century east window and a spectacular row of nine lancets in the south wall. Two effigies of ecclesiastical figures of late 13th to early 14th century date are mounted on either side of the east window. The battlements were added in the 15th century. The pre-12th century block of masonry is clearly visible in the north wall. One of the two smaller churches is a fine example of late Romanesque and the other is a plain 15th century structure with an interesting carving of a wyvern on one of the windows. Access for people with disabilities to exhibition area and viewing point.
West Limerick preserves many of Ireland's surviving spacious medieval halls. The Desmond Banqueting Hall is an imposing two-storey structure and was used by the Earls of Desmond for banqueting and entertainment. The Hall, vaulted lower chamber and adjoining tower were all constructed during the 15th century (the hall and chamber were built on the remains of a 13th century structure of similar size). Its restored medieval features include and oak musicians' gallery and a limestone hooded fireplace.
An area of approximately 400 hectares (1000 acres), Dromore was established as a nature reserve because of the diversity and richness of its flora and fauna. This richness comes from the fact that it has many different habitat types. These include a river, lakes, turloughs, callows (flodded meadows), limestone pavement, fen peat, reed beds and species-rich woodland.
The reserve has historical and archaeological aspects. The 17th century O'Brien Castle is still standing by the lake edge. This is also the sites of Cahermacrea Castle, Kilakee Church, two ring forts and a lime kiln.
This 13th century Franciscan friary, founded by the O'Briens, of Thomond who once ruled much of north Munster, has numerous 15th/16th century sculptures carved in the local hard limestone:
A carved image of St. Francis displaying the stigmata is evident in the nave. He carries a cross staff and wears the Franciscan habit. Under the south arch of the tower, an elaborate tracery canopy of the late 15th century was perhaps part of an ornate tomb. The corbels supporting this are carved on one side with a bishop and, on the other, the Virgin & Child. An arch between the nave and transept bears, in a niche, an image of "Ecce Home" or "Christ's Pity". His hands are bound and tokens of the crucifixion are arranged about. The magnificent east window, with its five tall, narrow lancets, lights the chancel. The chancel once contained several royal and aristocratic tombs, among those remaining at the friary are the canopy of the Inchiquin/O' Brien tomb and also the Creagh tomb which incorporates five sculptured passion panels from the much older MacMahon Tomb. Set into the back of this tomb is thirteen carved figures representing Christ and the Apostles, all dating from the mid 15th century.
The construction date of the earliest castle at Listowel dates to the 13th century but the present castle was probably built in the 15th century by the FitzMaurices. The castle stands on an elevation on a steep bank, overlooking the river Feale, above the location of a strategic ford. A substantial part of the front of the castle survives consisting of two large, square towers of four storeys, standing almost to the original height of 15.3 metres, connected by a wall of the same height and linked together by an arch on one side. A major programme of conservation works has been undertaken at the castle including the provision of an external staircase to allow public access to the upper levels.
Located approximately one mile off Kilrush, Scattery Island is home to a monastic settlement founded in the early 6th century by St. Senan who was born locally.
There are the ruins of six churches and one of the highest Round Towers in Ireland, 120 feet high, with it's unusual feature of it's door at ground level. Scattery has had many invasions down through the centuries; the Vikings invaded during the early 9th century but Brian Boru later recaptured the island. It is believed that Scattery is a derivation of the Norse word for treasure, which is Scatty.
The main church on the island is Teampall Naomh Mhuire (Cathedral of Saint Mary), situated next to the round tower. Scattery for a time in the 12th century administered to a diocese. There is an effigy of a bishop's head on the outside of the east window of the Cathedral believed to be that of St. Senan. The holy well, called Tobar Sinean, beside the round tower was of great reverence and respect by the islanders. It was also associated with a pattern held on St. Senan's Feast Day on 8th March. St. Senan is believed to have died in the year 544 and is reputed to be buried in St. Senan's Bed beside Temple Senan a small 12th Century Romanesque church.
An exhibition of the history of the island is housed in the visitor reception building, which is situated near the pier.
Visit Shannon on your next self-drive vacation to Ireland.