It was a cold, dark morning and Syndia and I were off to see the Grange Stone Circle in Bruff.
The Grange Stone Circle is a standing-stone monument, like many others, built by the druids. Despite many claims to the contrary (ref Stonehenge), nobody really knows the definitive purpose for which they were built. Regardless of its raison d'etre, it makes for an extremely impressive engineering feat considering the tools available at the time.
I have to admit that standing in the centre of the circle, looking out over the fields felt more than a little eerie when considering that not all that much would have changed since some druid had last stood there.
We walked around in silence for a while before taking any photos, and were about to leave when a 4x4 pulled up and a farmer got out. He introduced himself as the custodian of the standing stones, being the one upon whose land they stand. His name is Tim Casey, and a nicer bloke you couldn't meet. He gave us the guided tour of the monoliths, and pointed out several features that we'd missed seeing on our own. He also showed us some photographs of his children, who had appeared in a book on the monoliths published by the Irish Department of Tourism.
The Lonely Planet guide mentions that you can choose whether or not to make a donation to support the farmer who maintains the site. If anyone reads this and travels to Bruff, please make a donation. Tim has spent many thousands of Euro fencing the area to protect it from sheep and cattle, building the little tourist hut and generally maintaining the site so that the likes of us can travel there and stick our noses in for an hour or two.
If you do go there, tell Tim that Andrew and Syndia sent you.
After our adventures in Bruff, we headed to Lough Gur. Lough Gur is a lake (surprise!) with a historical information centre and some other bits and pieces attached. Apparently it's a huge attraction for the locals, who swim there in summer. It's far too bloody cold for me, but it must be true - they even have a lifeguard station and lifebelts hanging at the lake's shore.
It would actually be quite a pretty area given some decent weather, but then, this is Ireland and that doesn't come along all that often.
On the way back we stopped at a small wedge tomb, which would have been built in around 2500BC. It was fascinating for that reason alone, but there was also a disturbing story about an insane woman who used to live therein. It's amazing, but not always encouraging, to see how people used to live.