Lough Boora Mesolithic site was discovered in 1977 when what was first thought to be a stone track way was brought to the attention of the National Museum. This was investigated and found to be the storm shoreline of a post-glacial lake, a remnant of an era when the Shannon and its lakes - Lough Ree and Lough Derg covered much more of the Midlands than today.
Further investigation of the shoreline revealed the charcoal remains of ancient campfires. Associated with these were approximately 1,500 artefacts, many of them carefully worked black stone tools made of chert - a stone like flint, found locally in glacial deposits. The campfire sites, dated to between 6800 and 6500 BC, were the temporary campsites of hunters during the Mesolithic age (Middle Stone Age).
It is one of the most important archaeological finds in Ireland. Prior to its discovery it was thought that the first human settlements were near to the coast and that the midlands remained uncolonised. The discovery of the Lough Boora Mesolithic site has proven this to be inaccurate and pushed the accepted date for the colonisation of the midlands back by over 3,000 years!
A-B Start from the Car Park opposite the Birdhide on Cycle Path Road. The trailhead is marked by a mapboard. Walk along the tarred road in the direction of Kilcormac - there is a galvanised shed in the distance. Continue for 400m to reach a crossroads where the Farmslands Loop (green arrows) goes left. You continue straight here - follow the red arrow.
B-C After 200m, on a slight bend in the road and after a sign for Lough Boora Parklands, you veer to the right onto a sandy bog roadway. After another 200m turn leftat a T-junction and continue to follow the roadway to reach a sharp right bend where you join the long-distance Offaly Way (marked with yellow arrows and trekking man logo). Keep right here.
C-D Follow the meandering roadway - bounded by trees on your left and a Partridge Farm on your right. After 1.5 km you enter a coniferous plantation and arrive at a T-junction on top of an embankment. Turn left here.
D-E After only 100m turn right at the edge of the forestry and follow the sandy roadway past a long, narrow lake on your left. Eventually you reach a T-junction where you turn right and after 100m, arrive at the Mesolithic Site (on your right).
E-F Leaving the Mesolithic Site, continue to follow the sandy roadway past two bends and then a long straight section through forestry. At the end of the forestry, exit through a wooden gateway and reach a multi-junction of roadways and tracks - the large stone Boora Pyramid looms on your left. Continue straight on here, keeping the ‘standing timbers’ on your right and on to the top of the embankment.
F-A From the top of the embankment you will see the birdhide which marks the trailhead from where you started. Enjoy the stroll home!
Directions to Lough Boora trailhead
From the town of Kilcormac (on the N52 between Tullamore and Birr), take the N52 following the signposts for Tullamore. As you leave the town turn left after crossing the bridge over the Silver River. Follow the riverside roadway for 300m to reach a T-junction where you turn right. After 6 km the trailhead is on your left opposite a wooden bird hide.