Last Sunday a large group of people boarded our luxury coach, driven by our capable driver Paudie Kenneally. We arrived at Lough Gur Heritage Centre where we were served delicious refreshments. We broke up into two groups and went into the newly refurbished Heritage Centre where Rosaleen told all about the centre. Tom Lynch our guide arrived and transported us back in time with his knowledge of history, folklore and fascinating legends. Just after twelve we were taken on a guided tour around the truly magnificent Lough Gur, with the splendour of the sun, the scenery was just breathtaking. Legendary Lough Gur is a must, both interesting and very entertaining! We were able to experience the sacred space of Ireland’s largest Stone Circle comprised of 113 large standing stones. We visited historical sites such as a communal grave dated to circa 2,500 BC, Churches and ruined castles of the Earls of Desmond. The lakes were beautiful with the swans and ducks enjoying the warm sun, we could have stayed longer but we had a full programme. Deebert House Hotel welcomed us and we sat down to a most delicious lunch. All the produce used by the owners Ben O’ Sullivan and family are sourced locally. Next was a visit to Animal Magic which is run by Rosie Campbell and Denis, this is truly a labour of love. Rosie and Denis take in injured, almost dead in some cases, wild birds and animals and with the wonderful tender loving care that they receive are restored to living life. Several breeds of owls, both small and very large Canadian, American, English and the Barn Owl. Here is home to a buzzard, a raven (now endangered species), a turkey vulture, a kestrel, a golden eagle, several other varieties of wild birds, grey squirrel, ferrets and domestic animals such as 14 Irish wolfhounds, a pointer cross who smiles – it is true, sheep, goats and a pot belly black pig. There is so much to see and experience as you will see from our photographs of several of the group handling the birds of prey. We were very lucky to be able to see and experience these birds flying, soaring and landing on our hands. We were very reluctant to leave this wonderful, wonderful sanctuary.

Our next stop was Griston Bog where Fiona our guide was waiting patiently for us. Fiona was so helpful and told us all about the history of this bog which is not like any other bog you would have seen in Ireland. Ballylanders is very proud of this special project. It was getting a bit cold at this stage but it was worth every minute of it to be able to see what Ballyhoura have achieved All the local schools avail of the hands on experience of science classes here with their teachers, they can see all the living insects, butterflies, birds in their natural habitat. This is a truly fascinating project and all the local schools are so lucky to be able to avail of such wonderful facilities. We returned to Deebert House for more delicious refreshments and the ‘craic’ before boarding our bus for home where we had a great old sing song led by the one and only Breda Kelly – thank you Breda!. We have included a few photos just to show you the wonderful day out that we had. We are looking forward to our October Dancing weekend which is fully booked out with a waiting list. On Sunday November 24th, we will be going on our annual visit to Dublin where you can do as you please for the day. First stop will be to call to Mary Monaghan in Naas for a full Irish breakfast and returning again in the evening for a four course dinner. For more information and booking contact Maureen 087-9845102.