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Did You Know … ?
- John F. Kennedy’s Fitzgerald forbears came from Bruff in County Limerick.
- Eamon de Valera, prime minister and then president of Ireland, was reared in Limerick but born in the U.S.
- St. John’s Cathedral, at 280 feet, has the tallest spire in Ireland.
- Frank McCourt’s autobiographical “Angela’s Ashes” was set primarily in Limerick.
- Irish coffee was created for a group of Americans at Foynes Air Base in County Limerick (1942).
Nonsense and more
There was a town called Limerick
It had an old castle so slick
This fortress they spied
Until they made themselves quite sick
That is a bit of nonsense as are the poems that take the form of a limerick. It seems fitting to introduce the eponymously named western Irish city with such a ditty — although there is no proof that the five-line poems got their name from the city.
A different literary form — the autobiography — brought another kind of attention to Limerick. The limelight was a double-edged sword because Frank McCourt’s “Angela’s Ashes” told of grinding poverty in Limerick. Today tourists can join a themed walking tour based on the bestselling book.
In addition, Limerick, although not in the most scenic part of Ireland, has the types of manmade attractions that are typical for Irish destinations. It lures visitors with its fine castle (King John’s) and cathedral (St. Mary’s), plus pubs, varied entertainment opportunities and friendly locals.
It provides access to boating, fishing — even wakeboarding — on the River Shannon, plus another kind of fun, the imaginative re-creation of a medieval banquet at nearby Bunratty Castle. Built in 1425, Bunratty is Ireland’s most complete and authentic medieval fortress. In addition, Adare — sometimes called Ireland’s most picturesque village — is about 10 miles south of Limerick
Conveniently, Limerick is 15 miles east of Shannon Airport, the arrival or departure point of choice for many North American visitors and a shopper’s haven, as well.
The area has long provided an important link between North America and Europe, as is illustrated at the Foynes Flying Boat Museum. Located in the original Shannon Airport terminal, the museum tells a portion of aviation history — from the 1930s and through World War II — when Foynes Air Base was the operations headquarters for seaplane service to and from the U.S. No wonder aviation buffs love this place.
Things to do for Venturers
- Spend an evening (or several) getting to know the numerous pubs in this city. Take in the live entertainment at Dolans Pub, Warehouse and Restaurant.
- Go powerboating on a rigid inflatable boat on the Shannon estuary, departing from Limerick City or other points in the county.
Or, head a bit north of the city to Castleconnell to try wakeboarding on the river.
- Join an Angela’s Ashes Walking Tour, and get acquainted with sites mentioned in Frank McCourt’s book.
- Go to the dogs. Watch greyhounds race at the Limerick Greyhound Stadium.
- For mind-bending entertainment, choose the unFringed Festival held each winter. It features writers, actors, musicians and comedians in a range of venues, including pubs and the streets.
- See the countryside on the137-mile Mouth of Shannon Cycling Tour. The city of Limerick is the last stop.
Things to do for Centrics
- Take a stroll through the picture-perfect Adare, a planned village about 10 miles from Limerick dating from the early 1800s. Photograph its thatched-roof cottages and stone fences.
- Meet friends for a bite to eat and evening entertainment at the Brazenhead Limerick, a top rendezvous spot since 1794.
- See theater or a dance program at the Limerick Youth Theatre. There are other choices for theater, too.
- Board a recreated full-size B314 Flying Boat at the Foynes Flying Boat Museum. The recreated vehicle and exhibits recall the days of World War II when Foynes was central to transatlantic travel and when seaplanes provided transport. Also, have an Irish coffee where the treat was born. Foynes hosts an Irish Coffee Festival each summer.
- Revel in the traditional Irish Night activities at Bunratty Folk Park, a 26-acre spread that recreates aspects of 19th century Ireland with farmhouses, church, garden and village street with a pub and shops.
- Fish the River Shannon for perch, pike, salmon, trout and others. Fish from a boat or from the banks.
Things to do for Authentics
- Overnight at the restored Adare Manor in Adare. Play golf on its courses.
- Attend a medieval banquet in Bunratty Castle.
- If it fits your scheduled visit, shop at the Artisans Craft Fair held the last Thursday of each month at the Milk Market in Cornmarket Row.
- If flying out of Shannon, get to the airport early to allow time for shopping.
- Take advantage of a guided tour of medieval Limerick on King’s Island, for a comprehensive introduction to King John’s Castle, St. Mary’s Cathedral (a Protestant church) and other survivors from another era.
- Look in on the museums: Limerick City Museum, in restored 18th century houses, highlights the city’s story, and the Hunt Museum displays a collection of Celtic and medieval art.
For more information, consult Tourism Ireland at www.ireland.com