Limerick facts for kids
A montage of Limerick. From top, left to right: St. John's Cathedral, King John's Castle, The Clayton Hotel, Riverpoint, Treaty Stone and the University Concert Hall at the University of Limerick.
|Motto: Urbs Antiqua Fuit
Studiisque Asperrima Belli (Latin)
"There was an ancient city
very fierce in the skills of war"
|Elevation||10 m (30 ft)|
|Time zone||WET (UTC0)|
|• Summer (DST)||IST (UTC+1)|
|Area code(s)||(+353) 61|
Limerick (/, /; Irish: Luimneach [ˈl̪imʲɨnʲəx]) is a city in county Limerick, Ireland. It is located in the Mid-West Region and is also part of the province of Munster. Limerick City and County Council is the local authority for the city. The city lies on the River Shannon, with the historic core of the city located on King's Island, which is bounded by the Shannon and the Abbey River. Limerick is also located at the head of the Shannon Estuary where the river widens before it flows into the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 95,854 (2011 census), Limerick is the third most populous urban area in the state, and the fourth most populous city on the island of Ireland.
Geography and political subdivisions
There are 102,161 people living in the Limerick City Metropolitan District. On 1 June 2014 following the merger of Limerick City and County Council a new Metropolitan District of Limerick was formed within the united council which extended the city area. The Metropolitan District includes the city urban area and extends outwards towards Patrickswell in the west and Castleconnell in the east. The City Metropolitan Area however excludes city suburbs located within County Clare. When included this increases the overall city and metropolitan area by a further 5,000 with a combined total population of 107,161. Limerick is one of the constituent cities of the Cork–Limerick–Galway corridor which has a population of 1 million people. It is located at a strategic position on the River Shannon with four main crossing points near the city centre. To the south of the city is the Golden Vale, an area of rich pastureland. Historically, much of the city's industry was based on this rich agricultural hinterland and it is particularly noted for Limerick Ham.
Ancient and medieval history
Luimneach originally referred to the general area along the banks of the Shannon Estuary known as Loch Luimnigh. The earliest settlement in the city, Inis Sibhtonn, was the original name for King's Island during the pre-Viking and Viking eras. This island was also called Inis an Ghaill Duibh, "The Dark-(haired) Foreigner's Island". The name is recorded in Viking sources as Hlymrekr.
The city dates from 812 which is the earliest probable settlement; however, history suggests the presence of earlier settlements in the area surrounding King's Island, the island at the historical city centre. Antiquity's map-maker, Ptolemy, produced in 150 the earliest map of Ireland, showing a place called "Regia" at the same site as King's Island. History also records an important battle involving Cormac mac Airt in 221 and a visit by St. Patrick in 434 to baptise an Eóganachta king, Carthann the Fair. Saint Munchin, the first bishop of Limerick died in 652, indicating the city was a place of some note. In 812 the Vikings sailed up the Shannon and pillaged the city, burned the monastery of Mungret but were forced to flee when the Irish attacked and killed many of their number. The Normans redesigned the city in the 12th century and added much of the most notable architecture, such as King John's Castle and St Mary's Cathedral.
In early medieval times Limerick was at the centre of the Kingdom of Thomond which corresponds to the present day Mid West Region however, the Kingdom also included North Kerry and parts of South Offaly. One of the kingdom's most notable kings was Brian Boru, ancestor of the O'Brien Clan of Dalcassians. The word Thomond is synonymous with the region and is retained in place names such as Thomondgate, Thomond Bridge & Thomond Park.
Late Renaissance/Early modern history
Limerick in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was often called the most beautiful city in Ireland. The English-born judge Luke Gernon, a resident of Limerick, wrote in 1620 that at his first sight of the city he had been amazed at its magnificence: "lofty buildings of marble, like the Colleges in Oxford".
During the civil wars of the 17th century the city played a pivotal role, besieged by Oliver Cromwell in 1651 and twice by the Williamites in the 1690s. The Treaty of Limerick ended the Williamite war in Ireland which was fought between supporters of the Catholic King James II (Jacobites) and the Protestant King William of Orange (Williamites). The treaty offered toleration to Catholicism and full legal rights to Catholics that swore an oath of loyalty to William and Mary. The Treaty was of national significance as it ensured closer British and Protestant dominance over Ireland. The articles of the Treaty protecting Catholic rights were not passed by the Protestant Irish Parliament which rather updated the Penal Laws against Catholics which had major implications for Irish history. Reputedly the Treaty was signed on the Treaty Stone, an irregular block of limestone which once served as a mounting block for horses. This stone is now displayed on a pedestal at Clancy Strand. Because of the treaty, Limerick is sometimes known as the Treaty City. This turbulent period earned the city its motto: Urbs antiqua fuit studisque asperrima belli (An ancient city well studied in the arts of war).
The peace times that followed the turmoil of the late 17th Century allowed the city to prosper through trade in the late 18th century. During this time Limerick Port established itself as one of Ireland's major commercial ports exporting agricultural produce from one of Ireland's most fertile areas, the Golden Vale, to Britain and America. This increase in trade and wealth, particularly amongst the city's merchant classes saw a rapid expansion of the city as Georgian Limerick began to take shape. This gave the city its present-day look including the extensive terraced streets of fine Georgian townhouses which remain in the city centre today. The Waterford and Limerick Railway linked the city to the Dublin–Cork railway line in 1848 and to Waterford in 1853. The opening of a number of secondary railways in the subsequent decades developed Limerick as a regional centre of communications. However, the economic downturn in the European conflicts of the French Revolution and Napoleonic eras, and following the Act of Union 1800, and the impact of the Great Irish Famine of 1848 caused much of the 19th Century to be a more troubled period.
The Limerick boycott was an economic boycott waged against the small Jewish community for over two years in the first decade of the twentieth century. It was accompanied by a number of assaults, stone throwing and intimidation, which caused many Jews to leave the city. It was instigated in 1904 by a Redemptorist priest, Father John Creagh.
During the Irish War of Independence, the Limerick Soviet was a self-declared soviet that existed from 15 to 27 April 1919. A general strike was organised by the Limerick Trades and Labour Council, as a protest against the British Army's declaration of a "Special Military Area" under the Defence of the Realm Act, which covered most of Limerick city and a part of the county. During the strike a special strike committee was set up to print their own money, control food prices and publish newspapers.
By the mid-20th century, Limerick was characterised by economic stagnation and decline as many traditional industries closed or left the city. However, there were some success stories. In 1942 Shannon Airport (located 20 km west of the city) opened for the first time offering transatlantic flights. In 1959, Shannon Airport enabled the opening of the Shannon Free Zone which attracted a large number of multinational companies to the region. A long campaign for a third level educational institute to be located in the city finally bore fruit with the establishment of NIHE Limerick in 1969 which eventually became the University of Limerick in 1989.
Limerick's climate is classified as temperate oceanic (Köppen Cfb). Met Éireann maintains a climatological weather station at Shannon Airport, 20 kilometres west of the city in County Clare. Shannon Airport records an average of 977 millimetres of precipitation annually, most of which is rain. Limerick has a mild climate, with the average daily maximum in July of 20 °C (68 °F) and the average daily minimum in January of 3 °C (37 °F). The highest temperature recorded was 31.6 °C (88.9 °F) in 1995, and the lowest −11.4 °C (11.5 °F) in 2010. Limerick is the cloudiest city in the state, averaging only 1,295 sunshine hours annually, 3.5 hours of sunshine every day. There are on average 59 days of no recordable sunshine, 6 days of thunder, 19 days of hail and 8 days of snow per year. Shannon Airport is located by the ocean at an elevation of 14 metres, so snow is less common at the station than in the city itself.
|Climate data for Shannon Airport Weather Observing Station (1981 to 2010)|
|Record high °C (°F)||14.8
|Average high °C (°F)||8.8
|Daily mean °C (°F)||6.0
|Average low °C (°F)||3.2
|Record low °C (°F)||-11.2
|Precipitation mm (inches)||102.3
|Avg. precipitation days (≥ 1.0 mm)||16||12||14||11||12||11||12||13||12||16||15||15||159|
|Avg. snowy days||2.3||2.3||1.4||0.5||0||0||0||0||0||0||0.1||1.3||7.9|
In 2014, Limerick became Ireland's inaugural National City of Culture, with a wide variety of artistic and cultural events occurring at various locations around the city throughout the entire year.
The Limerick City Gallery of Art on Pery Square is the city's chief venue for contemporary art exhibitions. It is home to a permanent collection of Irish art, which shows works from the early 18th to 20th century. The gallery houses the National Collection of Contemporary Drawing founded by the artist Samuel Walsh in 1987. Limerick's major contemporary art event is EVA International, Ireland's Biennial of Contemporary Art. EVA International (formerly EV+A – Exhibition of Visual+ Art) is curated by a new guest curator every two years and includes contemporary artworks by both international and Irish artists. The centre of the exhibition is the Limerick City Gallery of Art, but EVA generally uses numerous other venues throughout the city including public spaces.
The Lime Tree Theatre officially opened at the Mary Immaculate College campus on 30 October 2012. The modern venue is able to host theatre, music, comedy, traditional arts, schools' performances and conferences.
The Belltable Arts Centre on O'Connell Street (in liquidation as of February 2013) hosts for local playwriting and drama. Mike Finn's numerous plays have been successful, including Pigtown, set around a century of the city's history, and Shock and Awe, an energetic retelling of Homer's Iliad. The University Concert Hall located in UL is a 1,000 seat venue and provides a large venue for national and international acts to visit the city. Limerick is also the home of street theatre companies, including "The Umbrella Project".
Limerick is also well catered for when it comes to literature. The Limerick Writers' Centre was established in 2008 and is responsible for a broad range writing activities in the city. Limerick has long been famous for its passion for arts, culture and heritage and you only have to look at some of its natives, which include Pulitzer Prize winning author, Frank McCourt; novelists Kate O’Brien, Michael Curtin and lately Kevin Barry and Donal Ryan. Limerick poets have also contributed widely to its literary heritage with Michael Hogan, Desmond O’Grady, John Liddy…the list goes on and on, proving that literature and writing is one of the major creative activities that the Treaty City can be proud of.
Other active Limerick arts groups include Contact Studios, which provides individual studio spaces for visual artists; the Daghdha Dance Company, a contemporary dance company that has adopted a renovated church in John's Square, adjacent to St John's Cathedral, as a performance space); the Fresh Film Festival, which is held each spring, and includes films made by young people (7–18 years) from all over Ireland; Impact Theatre Company; and Limerick Printmakers Studio and Gallery, which provides printmaking facilities, a venue for exhibitions and events and an education programme. The Limerick Youth Theatre provides young people with an opening into acting and production. It received attention in the national media with its 2005 production of Romeo and Juliet, which made comparisons between the ongoing feud in the city with that of the Montagus and the Capulets in the play.
The Irish Chamber Orchestra and the Irish World Music Centre are both based in the University of Limerick. The university has a thousand-seat state-of-the-art concert hall that frequently hosts visiting performers. The city has an active music scene, which has produced bands such as The Cranberries and guitarist Noel Hogan's MonoBand, The Hitchers and many more. World-renowned electronic musician Richard D. James, more commonly known as Aphex Twin, was born in Limerick in 1971. The Limerick Art Gallery and the Art College cater for painting, sculpture and performance art of all styles.
Limerick is also home to comedians The Rubberbandits, D'Unbelievables (Pat Shortt and Jon Kenny) and Karl Spain. Dolan's Warehouse on the Dock Road has two venues specialising in live music; an upstairs venue which tends to accommodate comedians and folk and jazz acts, and a much larger warehouse venue holding 400, which tends to stage more popular (usually rock) acts, both national and international. Dance music is catered for at Baker Place which holds mainly local underground nights and Trinity Rooms which has regularly hosts big names like Hot Chip, Groove Armada, DJ Yoda and Jazzy Jeff alongside more cutting-edge names like Dan Le Sac, Christian Smith, and Missill.
The city is the setting for Frank McCourt's memoir Angela's Ashes and the film adaptation. The Frank McCourt Museum situated in Frank's former school on Hartsonge Street opened in 2011 and contains many artefacts from the book, it also houses Frank's Ashes. It is the setting for the contemporary coming-of-age drama Cowboys & Angels and Robert Cunningham's Somebody's Daughter], which was shot in various locations around the city and had its premiere in King John's Castle in July 2004.
A limerick is a type of humorous verse of five lines with an AABBA rhyme scheme: the poem's connection with the city is obscure, but the name is generally taken to be a reference to Limerick city or County Limerick, sometimes particularly to the Maigue Poets, and may derive from an earlier form of nonsense verse parlour game that traditionally included a refrain that included "Will [or won't] you come (up) to Limerick?" The earliest known use of the name "Limerick" for this type poem is an 1880 reference, in a Saint John, New Brunswick newspaper, to an apparently well-known tune.
Riverfest is an annual summer festival held in Limerick. The festival was begun in 2004. The 2014 festival was held from 2 to 5 May and had a record 80,000 visitors.
Places of interest
Limerick City is a main tourist destination, only a 15-minute drive from Shannon Airport. Tourist attractions of architectural and historical note in the city centre include Limerick City Museum, King John's Castle (1212), St Mary's Cathedral (1168), the Hunt Museum, the University of Limerick, Georgian houses and gardens and the Treaty Stone. There are several seasonal tours (Angela's Ashes walking tour of Limerick City, historical walking tour and boat tours along the River Shannon).
The city centre is divided between the traditional areas of "English Town" on the southern end of King's Island, which includes the King John's Castle; "Irish Town", which includes the older streets on the south bank; and the current economic centre further south, called "Newtown Pery". Newtown Pery was built in the late 18th century before the Act of Union and, unusually for an Irish city and unique in Limerick, is laid out on a grid plan. The Limerick City Museum (formerly aka the Jim Kemmy Municipal Museum), is located in Istabraq Hall, City Hall, Merchant's Quay. It contains displays on Limerick's history and manufactures.
The Georgian core of the city, with fine Georgian architecture in the Newtown Pery, was developed from the mid 18th century. This core includes O'Connell Street (George Street before Independence) from the Cecil Street intersection running to the south west end of the Crescent, and south-east to Pery Street including Glentworth Street and Barrington Street. Other architectural buildings of architectural note in the city are St John's Cathedral, designed by the notable Victorian architect, Philip Charles Hardwick. St Mary's Cathedral, at over 800 years old, is one of the oldest in Ireland. St John's Cathedral, whilst more modern, has Ireland's tallest spire at 94 m (308 ft). One of Ireland's most celebrated museums, the Hunt Museum, is based in the historic 18th-century former Custom House. The museum was established to house an internationally important collection of approximately 2000 works of art and antiquities formed by John and Gertrude Hunt during their lifetimes. On display are the 9th century Antrim Cross, a sketch by Picasso and a bronze sculpture of a horse, said to be from a design by Leonardo da Vinci.
The main park in Limerick is the People's Park which was opened in 1877 in memory of Richard Russell, a prominent local business man. The park is dominated by the Thomas Spring Rice memorial (MP for the city 1820–1832) and has a large collection of mature deciduous and evergreen trees.
Limerick city centre changed significantly with the construction of several modern high-rise buildings in the early 2000s, in particular as part of the regeneration of the former docks area along the Dock Road. The suburban areas, where the majority of the population now live, have grown out from the centre along the main roads to Ennis (North Circular and Ennis Road areas/Caherdavin), Dublin (Castletroy and the University) and Cork (Ballinacurra/Dooradoyle/Raheen). Suburban houses are generally two-floor semi-detached homes for single families. These were built from the 1950s onwards in large estates by government projects and commercial developments, although there are many examples of Edwardian and older 1930s suburban homes on the main suburban thoroughfares leading towards the city (North & South Circular, Ballinacurra Road, O'Connell Avenue).
Currently tourism is growing, with over 1,000 new beds being opened in the city in 2006 thanks to the opening of five new hotels. The city provides visitors with "Street Ambassadors", people designated to help others around and make their stay more enjoyable. Limerick City has a vibrant nightlife, with numerous nightclubs and pubs giving a range of drinking experiences from the warm and cosy to cutting edge. Dolan's Warehouse is a popular small concert venue that hosts many local, national and international folk, indie, jazz and rock acts. It is also an established venue for traditional Irish music.
In County Limerick, Adare village and the Foynes Flying Boat Museum, approximately 35 km (22 miles/30 minutes) from Limerick City along the scenic coastal N69 route from Limerick to Tralee, are also popular attractions. Bunratty Castle in Co. Clare is another local attraction of national significance. It is situated 15.4 km north of the city. Limerick is known to be the antipodes to the Campbell Islands of New Zealand.
Limerick is officially the third largest city in Ireland (after Dublin and Cork) with a population of 102,161 people according to the 2011 census carried out by the CSO. The past census reported a large population decline in central city areas due in part to the Limerick regeneration process where in these areas the largest reduction was reported nationally and also to outward migration following the collapse of the local and national economy from 2008 onwards. The population of the Limerick Larger Urban Zone as defined by the EU is 162,413. Limerick has a notably ethnically diverse population, and a large immigrant community, which saw especially rapid growth during the Celtic Tiger and the following decade. The Polish community is the second largest outside of Dublin, with an estimated 10,000 living and working in the city. Ireland's first Polish bank opened in 2007. The African community has set up a number of churches, which are now part of the cultural makeup of the city.
Limerick has a large stock of local authority housing. Prior to the merger of Limerick City and County Council 41% of all housing within the old Limerick City Council boundary was local authority, which was the highest in Ireland. This figure is however no longer accurate given the larger metropolitan district of the city.
Shannon Airport is 20 km west of the city in County Clare. It is one of Ireland's main airports and is easily accessible from Limerick via the N18 dual carriageway and from other regions via the Limerick Tunnel. It has scheduled flights to European and North American destinations. Airlines using the airport include Ryanair, Aer Lingus, United Airlines, American Airlines, Aer Lingus Regional and Delta Air Lines. There is no rail link to the airport. Coonagh airfield, a few kilometres west of Caherdavin, serves small private aircraft. Kerry and Cork Airports are around 1 hour 30 minutes and 2 hours drive away, respectively. Kerry Airport is connected to Farranfore railway station, from Limerick railway station travel via Limerick Junction and Mallow.
Local public transport is provided by several companies. Bus Éireann, Ireland's state-owned bus company, operates a range of services subsidised by the National Transport Authority, while a number of provide operators also run commercial bus services in and around Limerick. A new enhanced city bus network was introduced in Limerick City on Sunday 4 December. A new route was introuced to the network called 304A that connects Raheen and Monaleen to the centre. Later services on all routes were also introduced with the last daily departure from the city centre at 23.30.
The city bus service routes are now:
- 301 Fr. Russell Road - University Hospital Limerick – City Centre – Westbury (30 Minute Frequency)
- 302 Caherdavin - City Centre (20 Minute Frequency)
- 303 Pineview – City Centre – O'Malley Park (30 Minute Frequency)
- 304 UL – City Centre – Raheen (15 Minute Frequency)
- 304A Raheen – Bus/Rail Station – University – Monaleen (30 Minute Frequency)
- 305 St. Mary's Park – City Centre – Lynwood Park (60 Minute Frequency )
- 306 Edward St – City Centre – Ballynanty Beg (60 Minute Frequency)
- 307 Cappavilla / Castletroy to City Centre (60 minute frequency)
- 308 Annacotty to City Centre (60 minute frequency)
Routes 301-306 are operated by Bus Éireann. Routes 307 and 308 were originally run by Eurobus, but have now been taken over by Dublin Coach.
Buses run to towns and villages in the county and to Shannon Airport. There are also a number of Intercity and international buses from Bus Éireann's bus terminal adjoining Limerick Colbert railway station. These include hourly services to Dublin, Cork & Galway. Bus Éireann have also commenced the 'X51' Limerick to Galway Express travelling on the M18 in addition to the regular service. Buses run every 2 hours to Tralee & Killarney. There are also regular daily services to Waterford & Athlone and a daily service to London via the ferry from Rosslare Europort.
There are a number of private bus companies in operation providing city and intercity services. Dublin Coach provide the M7 express service which operates every hour from Arthur's Quay which goes to Dublin or Ennis. JJ Kavanagh also provide Dublin to Limerick services and to Shannon Airport also from Arthur's Quay. Citylink run a number of services from Limerick to Galway & Cork and operate from Henry Street.
Iarnród Éireann's Limerick Colbert station is the railway hub for the city and the Mid West Region with a number of intercity and commuter rail services. Limerick railway station opened on 28 August 1858, replacing an earlier, temporary station 500 m east, which had operated from 9 May 1848.
The following inter city routes are available from Limerick Colbert station :
- Limerick to Dublin Heuston: 16 services daily including 4 direct services. All remaining Dublin – Limerick services require passengers to change to the Dublin to Cork train at either Limerick Junction or at Ballybrophy railway station.
- Limerick to Waterford: 2 services daily (but none on Sundays). Passengers must change train at Limerick Junction to continue to Waterford with stations at Tipperary, Cahir, Clonmel & Carrick-on-Suir.
- Limerick to Galway: 5 services daily. This service reopened on 29 March 2010.
- Limerick to Cork: Passengers can travel between Limerick and Cork via Limerick Junction. There is no direct service.
- Limerick to Killarney, Farranfore and Tralee: Passengers can travel between Limerick and Killarney, Farranfore and Tralee via Limerick Junction where trains run via Mallow to reach County Kerry.
There are 3 suburban/commuter services in the Limerick Suburban Rail network:
- Limerick – Ennis calling at Sixmilebridge
- Limerick – Nenagh calling at Castleconnell and Birdhill (with some services continuing to Cloughjordan & Roscrea & connecting to the Dublin-Cork railway line at Ballybrophy.) Due to speed restrictions this alternative Dublin – Limerick route can take 60 minutes longer (with a change at Ballybrophy) than by Limerick Junction albeit a more direct service.
- Limerick – Limerick Junction & Thurles
There are also a number of disused railway lines including the Limerick to Foynes line which closed to freight in the early 2000s, having lost passenger services in the early 1960s, although the track is still in situ. This is the last remaining part of the North Kerry Line which closed to passenger traffic in the early 1960s and to freight traffic (other than Limerick – Foynes) in the mid-1970s, and has been lifted between Ballingrane (near Rathkeale) and Tralee.
The Railway Procurement Agency has suggested that a tram system should be built in the city.
Limerick's central location in the mid – west of Ireland means many important national primary routes converge on the city. The M7 (Dublin), N/M18 (Galway, Ennis, Shannon), N/M20 (Cork), N21 (Tralee) and N24 (Waterford) routes all start/terminate in or near the city. Road infrastructure has improved over the past decade with the completion of the southern ring road and Limerick Tunnel bypass of the city and the M20 bypass of Dooradoyle and Raheen to the south of the city. Connections to the other cities is improving also with the completion of the M7 motorway in December 2010, and continuing upgrades ongoing to the N/M18 to Shannon, Ennis and Galway. A motorway is also planned between Cork and Limerick.
Historically, waterway transport has been key to Limerick's development. Vikings established the city as a maritime trading port. The city's position on a major Irish river system, the Shannon, enabled transport to the midlands of Ireland and further north and west. By the 18th Century with the opening of canal systems throughout Ireland, Limerick Port established itself as Ireland's premier commercial port on the western side of the country. This was enabled by ease of access from the facilitated by the opening of canals but most importantly to the River Shannon. The opening of the Grand Canal in the 18th century provided further access to Dublin and the east of the country. There are also a number of disused canals in the vicinity of the city including the Park Canal & the Passey – Errina Canal on the old Limerick navigation. Waterway transport on the Shannon was regularly used to transport goods from Limerick to Dublin and vice versa however this mode of transport fell into decline in the 20th century. Originally Limerick port was located near the confluence of the Abbey and Shannon rivers at King's Island. Today the port is located further downstream on the Shannon alongside the Dock Road and is operated by the Shannon Foynes Port Company who operate all marine activities in the Shannon estuary. It is a general purpose facility port. Plans to close the port and relocate all activity to the deepwater facility further downstream at Foynes have been abandoned. The plans included a major regeneration of the dockland area.
In 2013, a new energy strategy was launched for the region of Limerick and Clare. The project is a short-term 2020 renewable energy strategy giving a 20% reduction in CO2-emissions, while ensuring that short-term actions are beneficial to the long-term goal of 100% renewable energy. The strategy was completed by the Danish Aalborg University.
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