County Limerick

Inland county in the province of Munster.

The county, 1,064 square miles, has a population of approx 180,000.

Very fertile areas of the county, especially in the east and center, are part of the “Golden Vale,” where dairy farming thrives.

The Shannon forms the northern border of County Limerick for a total of forty-eight miles, almost until the river reaches the Atlantic Ocean. The Shannon was a commercial waterway used  by travelers and trades, who probably brought many gold objects dating from the Late Bronze Age, around 700B.C., that have been discovered throughout the county.

Cnoc Firinne and the Knockainey hills are ancient sites once associated with the Celtic other world. The Benedictine Abbey of Glenstal on the slopes of the Slieve Felim hills is one of the most vibrant spiritual centers in Ireland today.

Limerick City is the largest urban area in the mid western region, with a population of approx 55,000. The Vikings founded Limerick City in a sheltered position at the top of the Shannon estuary in 922 and were conquered in 967 by the O’Brien King of Munster, Brian Boru and his brother.

 In the thirteenth century, Limerick City fell to the Anglo-Normans. The Normans also expelled the O’Donovan chieftains southward to Cork and Kerry, allowing the Norman FitzGeralds to take over the lands west of the city, where they built castles at Adare, Carrigogunnel, Askeaton, Shanid, Glin, and Newcastle West.

Limerick has more surviving examples of ceremonial halls (in some of these castles) than any other county.

 In 1691, Limerick City was under seige and witnessed the culmination of the campaign of King William of Orange to end that Stuart monarchy. King James II had fled to France after the Battle of the Boyne a year before, and the Treaty of Limerick in 1691 marked the end of Catholic Ireland’s alliance with the Jacobean cause.

In the eighteenth century, the Croom area of the river Maigue became a center for poets writing in Gaelic including, among others, the Clare-born Brian Merriman, who wrote the Midnight Court. English language authors associated with Limerick include Gerald Griffin, Kate O’Brien, Frank McCourt, poet Aubrey de Vere, and his bilingual successor Michael Hartnett. Artists include Dermod O’Brien and Sean Keating. The Hunt Museum in Limerick City has one of the finest art collections anywhere in the country and Limerick boasts one of the best art colleges in Ireland.

The University of Limerick, with a heavy emphasis on technology, has had significant impact on the city’s economic and cultural life.

The famous Ardagh Chalice, now in the National Museum in Dublin, was found in County Limerick, not far south of Foynes. The latter, which served as a transatlantic seaplane base in the 1930s and 1940s, is still a small but busy port.

Adare is a particularly picturesque village with thatched cottages and a Tudor-style manor house (now a hotel).

The Young Irelander William Smith O’Brien, and various members of the O’Malley clan, are among the best known political names associated with Limerick history. Eamon de Valera, though born in Bruree, a village in the southern part of the county.

Limerick City was famous for its hams and those famous five-line verses (limericks), sometimes nonsensical but always funny, whose origin and connection with Limerick , city or county, has yet to be satisfactorily explained.

It is easy to build Limerick into Ireland tours as it is not far from Cork and worth a visit.