Ancient history versus speedboats and motels? Debate rages between planners and local historians for a proposed development at Lough Gur, in County Limerick.

Lough Gur, 13 miles from Limerick city, is a tranquil and beautiful place, but will not remain so for much longer, if a proposed tourist development plan worth £100,000 goes ahead.

The area is a treasure trove of megalithic burial sites and neolithic dwellings, and according to archaeologists is one of the most important historical sites in these islands.  The largest stone circle in Ireland is here, evidence of the Viking Age, a ruined Desmond Castle, and a 15th century tower house, not to mention evidence that people have been farming here for over 5000 years.

Wherever you go here, you almost trip over something from the distant past.

On one side of the debate is Limerick County Manager TM O’Connor; on the other is Tom Pierce, Secretary of the Thomond Archaeological Society.  Both sides agree that the area has outstanding natural beauty and is of archaeological importance, but stick to their guns when pressed on the types of development which would bring the most benefits to the site, and to the local economy. Both want people to come here, and enjoy the natural beauty and ancient history, but can the right approach be found? 

How do you preserve that dreamy, timeless quality that this place has now?  

Tourism is the second biggest industry in Ireland, and 1967 is World Tourism Year.  The arguments around the proposed development at Lough Gur are not just local issues.  This has implications for the whole country.

As we face this year’s invading horde of tourists, we might perhaps reflect on what brings them here.  Is it speedboats and motels and car parks, or is it something lovely, like this?

A 'Newsbeat' report by Cathal O’Shannon broadcast on 24 January 1967.