“Ah sure, we’ll be back next year, I can show ye around Limerick then, not a bother”

The girlfriend – 2010,2011,2012, 2013 and 2014

Every time she says ‘next year’, but it just never quite seems to happen, I’d never found time to visit Limerick City.  Ever since I starting dating my better half and having heard her stories of living and working in Ireland, I’ve been keen to explore the city she called home for a time, but it’s just never really happened.

It’s fair enough really, she lived in Limerick City for a number of years before she ever met me, and so has already seen everything there is to see. Why would she want to do it all over again when she could be catching up with the friends she made during her time in Ireland.  They after all, are the reason we travel to Ireland so frequently.  A days sightseeing in Limerick City has never been the priority to be honest.

That kind of changed last year though when a travel blogger friend of mine wrote a post about her own visit to Limerick city, and said post blew up.  From reading the post and resulting comments on Brenna’s blog, it became clear that Limerick was a city with lots to offer and that people clearly wanted to talk about and hear more about the place. I therefore made it a priority to visit Limerick City, for at least 1 day, upon my latest visit to Ireland.  A day isn’t a huge amount of time, but it was still more time than I had ever had previous.

Off I went with camera in hand and rain overhead.  Granted I didn’t see everything, but what I saw I liked and so I vow to return to Limerick once more within the next few years to finish what I have started.  In the mean time, here’s a few parts of the city I did managed to explore and enjoy.  I hope you enjoy them too and they give you a reason(s) to visit Limerick City for yourselves.

1 + 2 – The Shannon River and King John’s Castle

One of the best preserved Norman castles in Europe upon the banks of the longest river in Ireland.

Although the castle was not built until 1200 by King John (of England), the site of the castle actually dates back to the Vikings, with the remains of a Viking settlement uncovered via an archaeological excavations in 1900.

Having survived (although sustaining serious damage) an incredible 5 sieges during the 17th century, much more recently the castle has undergone a huge €5.7m redevelopment and is open to the public to explore.  Anyone for a history lesson?

Shannon River and King John's Castle

3. The Docklands

From 1853, upon completion of its floating dock, in through the Limerick docks came timber, coal, slack, fertiliser, tea, wool and glue.  Out went beef, pork, wheat, oats and flour.  Often working in harsh and dangerous conditions, in days before sick pay, overtime, health and safety and tea breaks, the men who worked the docks in wind, rain and snow were an integral part of the cities growth and popularity among traders.

Their efforts in helping secure trade and riches into the city was recognised in 2010 when Limerick born artist Michael Duhan, who’s father was a docker, was chosen to create a permanent tribute to the Limerick Dockers.  The Bronze memorial Duhan created to honour those dockers can be found riverside at Spokane Walk, was commissioned by Limerick City Council and funded by The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government under The Limerick Main Drainage Percent for Art Scheme

Docklands Memorial Limerick City

4. Mount Kennett Skate Park

Whether you can actually skate or blade, or just like street art, the Mount Kennet skate park which lies alongside the River Shannon is certainly worth some of your time when visiting Limerick.

Personally I can neither skate nor blade (my broken arms can attest to that), so I  visited the skate park purely for the street art, and was pleasantly surprised by the number of 80’s icons adorning the ramps, rails and boxes of the area.

Mount Kennet Skate Park Limerick City

5. The Potato Market

Dating back as far as 1843, but admittedly functioning in the present day as little more than a car park, albeit one that is pleasing on the eye, a (quick) visit to the Limerick Potato Market has potential value, in that you can reach uniquely shaped 5 sided market venue by crossing the bright white, arched pedestrian foot bridge.  Built in 1987, the bridge crossed over the Abbey River from behind the Hunt Museum into the market place.  It was named after a Dr. Sylvester O’Halloran who was a celebrated surgeon famed for developing a new method of treating cataracts.  The bridge was built and named in honour of O’Halloran as he lived only a short distance away from the market in Merchants Quay.

Potato Market Limerick City

6. The Milk Market

Located on Mungret street and one of the oldest markets in Ireland, Limerick’s Milk Market is a great spot for vintage lovers, vinyl collectors, antique hunters and those who love to simply relax and sip at artistic cups of steaming coffee.

Dating back as far as the early 19th century, it’s fair to say that the Milk Market now offers far more in terms of variety than it once did.  It is probably due to its ability to adapt and sell produce other than milk, which saw it outlast several other former markets in the city, such as the potato market.  Whereas the potoato market fell by the way around 1940, the Milk Market went from strength to strength and in more recent times (2004) was recognised as an important landmark within the city and was redeveloped into an award winning all weather, year round market place.

Limerick City Milk Market

7. Vintage

Limerick really does like its vintage.  There’s not a whole lot more I can say about it, other than it’s almost impossible to walk down a street in the city centre without seeing at least one shopping offer vintage clothing.

As I’ve said many times before, shopping isn’t entirely my bag, but the gf sure appreciated it and I’m sure those of you more coll and fashion conscious than I will appreciate the vintage goods on offer.

Limerick vintage shopping

8. Cruises Street

Cruises Street is probably the main shopping street within Limerick. Laden with high street shops as you’d expect, Cruises Street holds a certain charm in that it is decorated in an extremely colourful and enjoyable manner.  The statues and buskers certainly add another dimension to the shopping experience also – we heard one fella rapping over Celine Dion’s ‘My heart will go on’.

The street is named after a famous 200 year old hotel, the Cruises Royal Hotel, which used to house all manner of important guests to the city in it’s presidential suites, while also acting as a focal point and an entertainment venue for the people of Limerick.  The hotel was sadly demolished in 1991.

cruises street limerick city

9. Street Art

Granted it’s not in abundance, but Limerick is starting to grow a really cool street art scene.  Aside from the art I snapped at the skate park, I also found this HUGE piece just around the corner from the Milk Market, and after Googling ‘Limerick Street Art‘, I’ve found several other examples of giant, building side pieces that look incredible.  Hopefully this scene is allowed to develop and add a dash of colour of some of the cities which still require development.

Limerick City street art

10. The Hunt Museum

The Hunt(s) in the Hunt Museum are John and Gertrude Hunt, who as dealers and collectors, assembled between them an incredible collection of artwork and antiques by famed artists and designers such as Picasso and Leonardo da Vinci.

The collection amassed by the Hunts was vast, containing items from both Ireland and abroad, and with some of the oldest pieces dating back as far as the stone age and ancient Egypt. John Hunt was extremely interested in acquiring early Christian art and artefacts, but during the later years of his life came to realise just how many items he, and his wife, had collected in their time, and made the decision that he did not wanted to see their life’s work broken up and sold off once he had passed. This is how the Hunt Museum came to be.

Originally located in the University of Limerick (1978) after John and Professor Patrick Doran came to an agreement over an exhibit,  the museum moved in 1997 to the Georgian Custom House on Rutland Street, where it now remains and is open to public viewing.  Customer House was acquire and renovated especially to house the Hunt collection.

Hunt Museum Limerick

So there are just 10 of many reasons as to why you should visit Limerick, one of Ireland’s oldest cities.

Obviously the city has way more to offer than just these 10 points, and this has been recognised by in Limericks bid to become the 2020 European Capital of Culture.  Check out the official bid website and you’ll see all kinds of festivals, cultural evenings and sporting events that are possible to attend.

This PDF of Limerick from the Best OF Ireland Series is also a great read and highlights individual companies, shops, restaurants etc that you can visit when in the city.  At over 100 pages long, I think it’s safe to say that Limerick has plenty to offer!

Lastly, but definitely by no means least, check out this blog post from my friend Brenna – Why I Love Limerick (and Why You Should, Too) – which in short, is the main reason I finally plucked up the courage to plead/force my girlfriend into taking me to explore Limerick.  A fine read!

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Street art Limerick City