Black Castle, also known as Killalough Castle, in Lough Gur is now in a ruined state and not much remains of the original site. It originally protected one of the access points to Knockadoon - the other being Bourchier’s Castle, named after Sir George Bourchier, son of the second Earl of Bath. This is in good condition and a popular visitor attraction in the area. Black Castle and Bourchier’s Castle are a short drive from Bruff and Herbertstown so there’s a choice of accommodation for day trips from Limerick or longer holidays in the county.
A History of Black Castle
Black Castle is thought to be one of the chief seats of the earls of Desmonds. It is older than Bourchier’s Castle, dating back to the 13th Century, and what you can see today consists of a rectangular courtyard. At the two southern corners are the remains of square towers (connected by a high curtain wall) and one tower is more ruinous than the other. It is also on private property so there is no access for the general public, but the site is a worthwhile visit for its archaeological value and you can see church ruins as well as the impressive Bourchier’s Castle nearby.
Heritage of Lough Gur
Lough Gur is a horseshoe-shaped lake that lies between Bruff and Herbertstown in County Limerick just a half-hour drive from the city. It is one of Ireland’s major archaeological sites and various remains, including Ireland’s biggest stone circle and various tombs, can be found near the lake. The remains of houses dating back to the Stone Age (known locally as The Spectacles) and loch dwellings (crannogs) have also been found nearby.
There is also a visitors’ centre at Lough Gur explaining more about the history of the area and nearby attractions include the Grange Stone Circle, Killmallock Museum, the Cliffs of Mohr, Bunratty Castle and Folk Park and Adare Manor’s Hawk Walk, which is very popular with children.
Boutique Hotels Around Lough Gur and Black Castle
Bruff is the nearest urban area to Lough Gur - a small village with independent boutique B&Bs and self-catering accommodation to stay in. Bruff is a charming area with local gardens, a church and several pubs including Ireland’s tiniest one, so they say. The area is also well known for hunting and there are three equestrian centres nearby for amateur and professional horse riding.
Black Castle and Lough Gur are beautiful to see any time of the year, but a summer visit means you can make the most of the stunning countryside and watersports facilities. It is a short car journey from Limerick city for a day trip but a two-night stay or longer means you can really relax and enjoy what the region has to offer. The visitors’ centre is very helpful and will help you to plan your stay.