Coat of arms for Limerick City
Coat of arms for County Limerick
King John's Castle at night time, Limerick city
Trying to forget for a moment that Co. Limerick's name means "barren spot of land", Limerick isn't all bad. In fact, it's really quite a beautiful place filled with history, quaint cottages and gorgeous mountains, as well as the River Shannon. Idolised Irish writer, Frank McCourt immortalised the squalor and poverty of life in Limerick City during the 1930s and '40s in his enduring novel, Angela's Ashes - and Limerick has been battling the negative image ever since.
In truth, most of Co. Limerick is a haven of peace and quiet, with a rather underrated spread of landscape and historical sites. The Ardagh Chalice, an 8th-century silver cup, is – along with the Book of Kells – considered to be one of the finest pieces of Celtic art in existence. Though now on display in the National Museum in Dublin, the chalice was uncovered in Ardagh, Co. Limerick by two potato-diggers in the 1860s. In Limerick, the Hunt Museum’s vast collection of antiquities – ranging from stone age Irish relics to Picasso sketches – and the contemporary art found in The Limerick City Gallery of Art showcase the region’s rich cultural heritage.
The Ardagh Chalice
Credit: created by Kglavin, modified Aug 2007 by Mike Christie
Perhaps the most imposing historic landmark in the city, King John’s Castle is a well-preserved Norman fortress found beside the River Shannon, the story of which is well illustrated at its excellent visitor centre. Also situated at the water’s edge is The University of Limerick. The first university to be established in Ireland since the country gained independence in 1922, its founders adopted US practices such as GPA-style marking and a trimester-based teaching year.
Limerick is known as a hotspot for sport in Ireland (it’s the only Irish city to be named a European City of Sport), and Munster – the well-loved provincial rugby team – are famous for their atmospheric home games at Thomond Stadium. The venue also hosts football matches and pop concerts; the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan have graced the stage. South of the river, Limerick Greyhound Stadium – complete with bar and restaurant – hosts dog races on Thursdays and Saturdays. Covering a large part of the Shannon Estuary, Limerick is also a popular place for boating and sailing.
Cruising down the River Shannon, County Limerick
Further afield, the town of Adare is widely considered to be one of the most picturesque villages in Ireland, with several wonderful examples of thatched-roof cottages. Likewise, Lough Gur is a pre-Celtic archaeological site with stone circles – including the largest in Ireland – and a megalithic tomb. The lakeside Lough Gur Heritage Centre brings the area’s history, archaeology and folklore to life with interactive exhibitions and audio guides.
Curraghchase Forest Park is home to a modern ruin: the shell of a stately house burned down by accident in the 1940s. The surrounding 313 hectare park is peppered with lakes, walking trails, and archaeological sites, and also features an arboretum brimming with trees from the region and beyond. Ideal for small-scale adventures, the half-acre Terra Nova Garden in Dromin is a magical spot; one corner is overrun with elves and fairies, which children will love to discover.
Every county in Ireland has its own festival and these run from January through to December. Among the highlights on the Wild Atlantic Way are I.NY, and the Richard Harris Festival, held in Limerick in October. These are part of the Global Irish Festival Series, a Government initiative celebrating stories, theatre, film and music, both homegrown and created by members of the Irish Diaspora with deep roots in this country.
Among Limerick's most famous sons and daughters are Éamon de Valera, one of the founding fathers of the Republic of Ireland, who was raised in Brulee, and Dolores O'Riordan, lead singer of The Cranberries.
Our 101 team have been working with local tourism, business, community and Council initiatives to bring you some of the best ways for you to live your connection to Limerick.
Limerick has really turned around its old image and is now a hugely vibrant City with lots of things to do, from sporting events to festivals, and plenty of attractions for all the family. Limerick City and County Council are one of the most progressive regions in Ireland when it comes to Diaspora engagement...so if you have roots from this county, be sure to connect with their council. Just sign up for our updates and will keep you posted.