Places to Visit in Limerick
Known in the Irish language as Luim neach, or “the flat land”, County Limerick is located in Munster province. Its lush landscape is largely composed of level green fields, with the River Shannon passing through on the way to the point where it meets the sea at Limerick City. Small hills and ridges dot parts of the county, which is bounded by the Ballyhouras, Galtees and Slieve Felims ranges. The quiet countryside of County Limerick is also enhanced by the dramatic views of the Mullaghareirk Mountains at the western edge.
Limerick City, a thriving port town, is located on the River Shannon Estuary. Its origins date back to the Viking Era when Danish arrivals founded a walled city on St. John’s Island circa 1197.
Although Limerick City is continually developing and modernizing itself, there are still many historically important elements located within its limits. Hunt Museum, located inside the Customs House which was erected in 1765, displays Irish paintings and historic metal works as well as other pieces from the collection of benefactors John and Gertrude Hunt.
Archeological treasures and a learning centre that focuses on regional history can be found at thirteenth century St. John’s Castle, located along the river, and the city’s oldest church, St. Mary’s Cathedral, still retains its palatial beauty.
Having survived alternating periods of prosperity and destruction throughout its long history, Bunratty Castle is a classic monument, devoted to the celebration of Irish heritage. A castle, in some form, has stood at its site along the River Ratty since the Vikings first placed a fortified settlement there. In 1250, the Normans built their structure, which was destroyed in battle and refurbished over and over again, across the centuries. Today, visitors see a remarkably well-preserved monument that displays medieval artifacts and hosts authentic medieval banquets.
AdareVillage sits clustered around the former manor house of the same name and offers visitors a rich heritage experience filled with shops, music, dance and architectural wonders to explore.
The Celts came to County Limerick circa 400 BC. Evidence of earlier settlers has also been discovered, some of it dating back as far as 3500 BC.
Christianity, upon its arrival, brought a focus on the pursuits of art and learning to the area. These pursuits were encouraged and advanced by the local monasteries, where works of writing and painting were produced, along with advanced decorative metalwork, such as the Irish treasure known as the Ardagh Chalice.
The Vikings came to County Limerick and forged the beginnings of Limerick City in 922. The Normans were in control later, when the official county boundaries were established.
Struggles for power between the Normans and the English were nearly continuous in the sixteenth century, escalating to the point where they became the Desmond Rebellions. It was during this particularly brutal series of battles that most of the local property was seized, especially that of the area ruling Geraldines.
During the 1600s, County Limerick became the battlefront of the Cromwellian sieges, and Limerick City endured a yearlong attack in 1650-51. The latter part of the century brought more fighting in the form of the Jacobite-Williamite War.
Persecution of County Limerick Catholics continued for centuries afterward, and a large number of area residents emigrated during the Famine years of the 1840s. County Limerick also figured prominently as a point of conflict during the Irish War of Independence in the 1920s.
Some of the historical flavor of Limerick was successfully portrayed in the famous biographical novel Angela’s Ashes in 1996. The book, written by Frank Mc Court and based on his youth in Limerick City, was later made into a film that received worldwide acclaim.
Apart from a few historic exhibits, the Limerick City of today is a changed place – McCourt’s rather bleak surroundings have been replaced by a growing city filled with high tech companies, colleges and universities, and expanding port facilities.
Common surnames in County Limerick include: O’Brien, Fitzgerald, Collins, McKeough, O’Grady, Fitzgibbon and Woulfe.