Limerick grew up at the limit of tides and navigation of the River Shannon. In the 9th century the Vikings first raided it then settled, calling it Hlymrekr which probably means low-lying and fertile. As elsewhere in Ireland, they were overthrown by the native Irish in the 10th / 11th C, who in turn came under the rule of the Anglo-Normans. In 1205 King John ordered the construction of the castle on the river island in the Shannon, and the English settled in this area of King's Island, with their "Englishtown" protected by massive walls. South across the small River Abbey lay "Irishtown", with the natives firmly put in their place.
Limerick became a prosperous port, so it was worth fighting for. Some of the many conflicts were the proxy war that was part of the medieval England - Scotland wars; a siege as Oliver Cromwell crushed Royalist opposition in Ireland; and the siege which was the last stand of King James II / VII forces against William of Orange, ended by the Treaty of Limerick in 1691.
The city benefited from local agriculture and by growing trade with North America, with Irishtown rebuilt on a grid pattern as a Georgian city comparable to Dublin, and fine public buildings. It slumped with the Napoleonic wars, with the draining of political power to England, and with the great Irish famine of 1848. Not until mid-20th century did it redevelop, as transatlantic flights began from Shannon and new industry was attracted in to replace bygone trades.
It's spawned many great writers and poets: Michael Hogan (1828-1899) the satirical Bard of Thomond, Jim Kemmy (1936-1997) author of The Limerick Anthology, Frank McCourt (1930-2009) author of Angela's Ashes, 'Tis and Teacher Man. Other famous local people include the actor Richard Harris, TV presenter Terry Wogan, statesmen Éamon de Valera and Michael D Higgins, and physician William Brooke O'Shaughnessy who pioneered IV therapy and the medical use of cannabis. What the place didn't spawn was limerick verse, which evolved in 18th C England, presumably from a nonsense lyric that referred to the city or county.
By plane: Shannon Airport (SNN IATA), 25 km west of Limerick along N18, has flights across Europe and UK, and to New York, Newark and Chicago. All the main car rental firms have offices at the airport.
To town, Bus Eireann 343 runs every 30 mins between 06:30 and midnight, taking an hour, fare €8. Bus 51 between Galway and Limerick also stops at the airport hourly.
By train: There are hourly trains from Dublin Heuston, taking two hours to 1 Limerick Colbert. Some are direct but most involve a change at Limerick Junction (which is near Tipperary and about 25 km east of Limerick); change there also for Cork (connections hourly, 90 mins). To & from central Dublin, buy a ticket for city centre not Heuston, as this includes the connecting tram fare and saves a couple of euros over separate tickets.
- Bus 51 runs hourly south via Mallow to Cork, 2 hours, and north via Shannon Airport and Ennis to Galway, 80 min.
- Every two hours, Bus 13 runs to Tralee and Bus 14 to Killarney.
- Bus 55 runs every 2-3 hours to Waterford, 2 hr 30 min.
- Bus 72 runs 3 or 4 times a day to Athlone, 2 hours.
Limerick bus station is at Colbert next to the railway station.
By car: From Dublin, N7 is all motorway once you get past Naas, 200 km or 3 hours in all. Other major routes from Limerick are N18 / M18 to Shannon Airport, Ennis and Galway, N20 to Mallow and Cork, N21 to Tralee and Killarney, and N24 to Tipperary and Waterford.
Public bus services are available in Limerick but the city is quite contained and everything is within walking distance. Quite easy to get from City Centre out to UL/Castletroy Area and back via the public bus.
Bikes need to be rented weeks in advance. There is only one bike rental shop in town.
Limerick has a host of attractions. See the Limerick Coordination Office [dead link] for a full events guide
- 1 King John's Castle (on King's Island). Nov-Feb 10:00-17:00, Mar-Oct 09:30-18:00; limited access 15-21 June 2019. Built 13th C by King John over an earlier Viking fortification. The walls, well bashed about over the centuries, enclose a large courtyard. Adult €8.
- 2 St Mary's Cathedral, Bridge St (on King's Island), ☏ . Daily 09:00-16:45. Anglican cathedral founded in 1168, with the tower added in the 14th C. Note the ceremonial Great West Door, the limestone-slab original altar, and the chandeliers. Notable burials include the last High King of Munster, within the nave. Suggested donation €5.
- St. John's Cathedral, Cathedral Place (corner of Garryowen Rd). This impressive RC cathedral is in neo-Gothic style and has the tallest spire in Ireland at 94 m (308 ft). Built in 1861 and designed by the architect Philip Charles Hardwick, it has been in continuous use since. Six bishops are buried here.
- Hunt Museum, Customs House, Rutland St, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Sa 10:00-17:00, Su 14:00–17:00. Formed from the personal collection of John and Gertrude Hunt, ranging over Classical, Irish prehistoric and early Christian, and Olmec. Plus rotating exhibitions, eg to Sept 2019 the painters Lavery and Osbourne. Adults €7.50, conc €5.50, Sunday & under 16s free.
- 3 Limerick City Gallery of Art, Carnegie Building, Pery Sq. M-W & F Sa 10:00-17:00, Th 10:00-19:30, Su 12:00–17:00. Displays all Irish artists, plus large collections of posters and contemporary drawings. Free.
- Frank McCourt Museum on Lower Hartstonge Street depicts the author's life and times. It's open M-F 11:00-16:30, Sa Su 14:00-16:00. Tis. They also organise "Angela's Ashes" walking tours.
- The fine 19th C Potato Market, on the Quays, is nowadays just a car park.
- Lots of confident Georgian architecture on and around O'Connell Street, with the Daniel O'Connell monument perched at the top of the street.
- The Treaty Stone, now perched on Thomond bridge, is a rough limestone block used for mounting horses. It was supposedly upon this stone that the Treaty of Limerick was signed on 3 Oct 1691, ending the siege of the city and the war between the Jacobites and William of Orange. The Treaty permitted the defeated Jacobite soldiers to leave for France (which most did), or to enlist in William's army, or to go home. It also ensured protection of the defeated Catholic gentry provided they swore allegiance to King William. But few did so, the Pope proclaimed James as the rightful king, the Catholics were oppressed, and the conflict rumbled on for the next 300 years.
- Watch Rugby Union at 1 Munster Rugby, Thomond Park, Cratloe Rd (a mile west of city centre). They play in the Pro14, the professional pan-European league, and in the European Rugby Champions Cup. They usually play at Thomond Park, capacity 25,000, but some games are played in Cork.
- Limerick Football Club. The city's football team play in Markets Field, which is in the city centre. Matches are played on Friday nights and tickets are generally available on match night. tickets cost between €12 to stand, and €15 to sit in the main stand.
- Belltable, O'Connell Avenue. Performing arts theatre.
- University Concert Hall.
- Stroll in The Peoples Park, south of the centre by the Gallery of Art.
- UL Arena is a large sports facility on the University campus east of the city.
- Go to the races at Limerick Races, Greenmount Park, Patrickswell, Co. Limerick V94 K858 (6 km southwest of city, from M20 take exit 4), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Opened in 2001 and staging both flat-racing and National Hunt; the previous course at Greenpark closed in 1999.
- University of Limerick (Ollscoil Luimnigh).
- Limerick Institute of Technology (Institúid Teicneolaíochta Luimnigh).
- Mary Immaculate College (Coláste Mhuire Gan Smál).
- Language Travel Ireland (LTI).
- Cruise's Street, pedestrianised, is the main shopping mall.
- The Milk Market, Market House, Mungret St. F 10:00-15:00, Sa 08:00-15:00, Su 11:00-15:00. Weekend market with various stalls and food outlets.
- O'Mahony's is a good book shop at 120 O'Connell Street, open M-Sat 09:00-17:45, Sun 13:00-17:15.
- Rossi's (formerly Azur), 8 Georges Quay, ☏ . Tu-Sa 17:00-21:00, Su 13:00-20:00. Good Italian & European cuisine.
- Bella Italia, 43 Thomas St, ☏ . M-Th 10:00-21:00, F Sa 10:00-21:30. Reliable Italian place.
- 1 Copper and Spice, Mill Bar, Garraunykee, Annacotty (5 km east of centre). M-Sa 17:00-22:30, Su 14:00-22:00. Indian restaurant. The city centre branch in Cornmarket Row has closed.
- The Cornstore, 19 Thomas Street, ☏ . Daily 12:00-22:00. Steak and seafood chain restaurant.
- The Grove, 11 Cecil Street, ☏ . M-F 09:30-16:00. For yummy vegetarian food.
- Jasmine Palace, 38 O'Connell St, ☏ . M-F 12:00-22:00, Sa 12:00-22:30, Su 12:00-21:00. Busy Chinese buffet restaurant.
- The Locke Bar, 3 George's Quay. M-Th 09:00-23:30, F Sa 10:00-00:30, Su 10:00-23:00. Gastro pub on riverside, often has live music.
- Milano, Harvey's Quay, ☏ . Su-Th 12:00-22:00, F Sa 12:00-23:00. Pizza chain with vegan and GF choices.
- La Piccola Italia, 56 O'Connell Street, ☏ . M-Sa 17:30-22:00. Traditional Italian fare.
- Texas Steakout, 116 O'Connell St. M-Sa 12:00-22:30, Su 12:30-22:00. Steaks, burgers and Texmex cuisine.
- Nancy Blakes, 19 Upper Denmark St. W-M 10:15-02:00, Tu 10:15-00:45. Popular and crowded. Live music most weekends.
- The Old Quarter, 3 Little Ellen St (alley off Denmark St), ☏ . M-Sa 09:00-00:00, Su 14:00-23:30. Gastro pub with large outdoor area, does good breakfasts.
- Flannerys Bar, 17 Upper Denmark St. M-Th 10:00-00:30, F Sa 10:00-02:30, Su 13:00-12:30. There are several Flannery's pubs in town, this gentleman is specifically Michael Flannery. Large venue with 3 bars on two levels.
- Smyths, Denmark St. M-Sa 09:00-02:30, Su 12:30-02:30. Late night bar. Great atmosphere. Live music. Cosy traditional Irish pub.
- Molly Malones, Ellen St. Be careful with the bouncers. Late Bar and dance floor. Gets crowded. Great place to end a night of partying.
- Costello's Tavern, 4 Dominic St. M 22:00-Tu 00:00 nonstop, Th 22:00-02:15, Sa 20:30-03:00. Alternative music late night venue, €5 cover charge.
- Jerry Flannerys, 20 Catherine St. M-Th 10:30-23:30, F Sa 12:30-00:30, Su 12:30-23:00. Great pub for watching the rugby on TV.
- Micky Martins, Augustinian Lane (in alley beyond Little William St). M-Th 12:30-23:30, F Sa 13:00-00:30, Su 14:00-23:00. Good beer selection, Hoegaarden on tap, nice outdoor area.
- Tom Collins's Bar, 34 Cecil St. Daily 12:00-00:00. Grand traditional pub for relaxing.
- Dolan's Pub, 3-4 Dock Rd. M-Th 12:00-23:30, F 12:00-00:30, Sa 10:00-02:00, Su 10:00-23:00. Has Irish Trad live music and good food. Dolan's Warehouse next door houses techno parties.
- The White House, 52 O'Connell St. M-Th 09:30-23:30, F Sa 10:00-00:30, Su 12:00-23:00. Open mike nights and poetry nights. Wine and whiskey are as much a thing as the beer.
- The Still House, 56 Thomas St. Daily 12:00-23:30. Great welcoming pub, live music at weekends.
- Charlie Chaplin's, 24 Chapel St (corner with Cruises St). M-Th 12:30-23:30, F 12:30-01:00, Sa 10:00-01:00, Su 13:00-23:30. Good friendly inexpensive bar.
- Charlie Malone's, 19 Wolfe Tone St (Near Bowman St & Barrack Hill). M-Th 13:00-23:30, F Sa 13:00-00:30, Su 12:30-23:00. Cozy friendly bar, often has Irish Trad live music, Tuesday is open mike.
- Brookville House B&B, 31 Brookville Avenue, Clareview (400 m west of Thomond Park), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Owner Nora is renowned for her hospitality and the full Irish breakfast comes highly recommended. Ensuite rooms with TV available. B&B double from €65.
- 1 Travelodge Limerick Castletroy, Dublin Rd N7 (just west of Groody roundabout), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Budget chain hotel near university. There's another west of town. B&B double €75.
- 2 Travelodge Limerick Ennis Road, Coonagh Roundabout, Ennis Rd, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Budget chain hotel, there's another at Castetroy east of town. B&B double €60.
- Perys Hotel (no longer a Best Western), Glentworth St, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Central, rooms small and tired, noisy from city construction work. B&B double €60.
- Clayton Hotel Limerick, Steamboat Quay (downstream from Shannon bridge), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Hotel with health and fitness centre, pool, sauna, steam room and gym. B&B double €110.
- George Hotel, Shannon St, ☏ . Decent central hotel, rooms are small. With Italian restaurant. Parking in own garage nearby if you can find it. B&B double €100.
- 3 Greenhills Hotel, Ennis Road (west edge of city), ☏ . Large 4-star hotel with conference facilities, Hugh's Steakhouse and Bryan's Bar. B&B double €100.
- 4 Kilmurry Lodge, Castletroy (off Dublin Road 5 km east of centre), ☏ . Pleasant, ivy-covered red brick hotel on the east edge of town, feels small and cozy although it's actually large. Pub, restaurant and nightclub on grounds, retail mall across main road. B&B double €90.
- Maldron Hotel Limerick, Southern Ring Road, Roxboro, V94 EDP4, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Family friendly hotel with leisure centre, gym and swimming pool. Function rooms available for business meetings and conferences. B&B double €100.
- Pier Hotel, Sarsfield Bridge, ☏ . A bit worn but convenient and fair value for what you pay. B&B double €60.
- 5 South Court Hotel & Suites, Raheen roundabout, Limerick (4 km southeast of centre), ☏ . Decent mid-range place on business park beyond University Hospital. With Curry House. B&B double €80.
- Strand Hotel, Ennis Rd (just west of Shannon bridge), ☏ . Boxy modern building but comfy & convenient for centre, with leisure facilities and meeting rooms. B&B double €110.
- Absolute Hotel Limerick, Sir Harry's Mall (off Island Rd near bridge), ☏ . Four Star spa hotel in city centre. Scores well for comfort & service, parking sometimes a problem. B&B double €150.
- 6 Castletroy Park, University Gates, Dublin Rd (near University 3 km east of centre). Modern hotel with leisure & conference facilities. Also has spacious suites with kitchenettes. B&B double from €150.
- Savoy Hotel (formerly Marriott), 22 Henry St, ☏ . Good modern central 4-star, occasional lapses. B&B double €150.
- 7 Radisson Blu Hotel & Spa, Ennis Rd, Burtonhill (jcn N18 & R445 towards airport), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Good modern hotel west of city. A taxi to centre or airport might be €20. B&B double €100.
Limerick being a modest sized city, the city centre itself is safe and cosy, even at nights and weekends. Generally as is the case of any of the modern cities in Ireland, use your common sense and exercise caution and you will have a fantastic time.
If you do run into trouble, the police station (Gardai) is on Henry Street in the city center. The number of the local police (Gardai) is +353 61 212 400, note: a non-emergency number. The emergency dial is the standard 112 or 999, as always.
- Drive west past Shannon Airport into County Clare and Ennis and take N68 to Kilrush and Kilkee. This brings onto the wild Mizzen Head, with the grey Atlantic heaving below.
- On the road north towards Galway, stop to admire the Cliffs of Moher.
- Lough Gur, 15 km south of the city along R512, is a remarkable collection of Neolithic sites and artefacts.
- Along the south bank of Shannon, Adare is a very attractive old town, pity about the traffic and the hordes.
- Nearby Foynes is where the transatlantic flying boats used to berth, and the likes of Sinatra and John Wayne stepped out to the pop of flash-guns; see the museum and step aboard a plane.