Limerick City: Worth a Visit?
It is synonymous the world over with a type of lively, often lewd verse, but spend much time in Limerick’s eponymous capital and you might find yourself making up a few off-color rhymes of your own. With a population of 100,000, it’s the Republic’s third largest city (only Dublin and Cork are bigger), with a gritty, crime-ridden urban feel usually associated with much bigger cities. In 2008, it suffered the ignominy of being named the murder capital of Europe, while the same report declared Ireland to be Europe’s safest country overall. In more recent years, it has been the backdrop for a notorious, ongoing gang feud.
Simply put, Limerick just isn’t very nice.
That said, there have been genuine efforts to make things better. The tourist board is doing its part to clean the place up, with a certain amount of success. A prime example is King John’s Castle ★ (Nicholas Street; www.shannonheritage.com; 061/360788). This stern riverside fortress, dating from 1210, is the centerpiece of Limerick’s historic area. But rarely has an historic building been so poorly treated in the modern age; during the 1950s, in an astonishing act of government vandalism, it even had a public housing project built within its central courtyard. Thankfully that’s long gone, but the big, modern visitor center building that’s risen in its place still rather spoils the effect. However, a recent renovation has greatly improved the visitor facilities, including high-tech interactive displays. Admission costs €10.50 adults, €9.50 seniors, students, and children aged 6 to 16 (free for children under 6), €23 to €27 families. It’s open April to September from 9:30am to 5:30pm, and October to March from 9:30am to 5pm (last admission 1 hr. before closing).
Located in an 18th-century customs building with a fine Palladian front, the Hunt Museum ★★ (Rutland Street; www.huntmuseum.com; 061/312833) has exhibits on ancient Greece and Rome, and paintings by Picasso and Renoir. Admission costs €6 adults, €4 seniors and students, €3 children, and €14 families. It’s open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm, Sunday and public holidays from 2 to 5pm. For more modern art, try the Limerick City Gallery of Art ★, in People’s Park at the corner of Perry Square and Mallow Street. (www.gallery.limerick.ie; 061/310633). Besides regularly changing contemporary art exhibitions, the gallery’s permanent collection includes work by Irish painters Jack B. Yeats and Sir John Lavery. It’s open Monday to Saturday 10am to 5:30pm (and until 8pm on Thurs), Sunday noon to 5:30pm (closed on public holidays). Admission is free.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.