After our first day in Limerick, we were really excited for day two! We had a walk around the city planned, as well as visits to a few interesting historical sites. Unfortunately, there was no way we would be able to fit everything we were recommended by you guys so we were delighted to be picked up and ferried around the city by Donal, a JJ Kavanagh employee that made sure our second day in Limerick was absolutely fantastic!
One of the first things you notice about Limerick is that quite a lot of businesses are shut down and many buildings have been closed for a long time. While this has happened for a variety of reasons and is very sad for the city of Limerick, what has come from it is beautiful in its own way…
One of the reasons I was so excited to come to Limerick is for the serious amount of huge murals created by some of our nation’s best street artists that really add more than just a colour to the area. While strolling around the city we found pieces by the likes of the super talented Fintan Magee, the mysterious Maser, the trailblazing Joe Caslin and many more.
A short drive outside the city (you can get a local coach down) brings you to Bunratty Castle and the Bunratty Fair Green where you’ll find various historical pubs and shops primarily aimed at tourists (there was the sound of Americans and continental Europeans everywhere). We popped into Blarney Woollen Mills for a gander. It’s what you’d expect. Full of beautiful fleeces and other such things but there’s a beautiful café in the loft that is definitely worth a visit!
Before going over to the castle, we had lunch in The Creamery as you guys once again recommended and we have to say thanks for that because the food was just gorgeous and it was served with a smile! The building itself is just gorgeous and it is clear to see it was once a stable house and also a creamery before being a restaurant as many original fittings are still visible in the bar.
The tower itself is an impressive structure that stood tall against an imposing grey sky and there was a steady trickle of people coming into the area to walk around the castle grounds. We went straight to the Folk Park which is at the base of the castle grounds because we’d heard great things and we really weren’t disappointed.
The park is a sprawling replica of what it would have been like to live in 19th century Ireland. It is full of thatch roofed cottages along beautiful little lanes, complete with working fireplaces, stray beds and farm animals. There’s the smell of charcoal, the stare of crucifixes and the musk from old bedclothes in every little house. As you move around the park, you get a sense of just how much is in it, how authentic it strives to be…
There’s a farmhouse with a Mrs Brown type character making bread and sharing funny stories. There’s a family of donkeys munching away in a little vale and there’s even a town centre with a post office, a school, a doctor’s house and practice and a pottery that are lovingly restored and maintained with some of the buildings manned by craftspeople. We ended up walking around the park for two hours (an hour longer than we had expected to) but we truly felt like we were transported to another time!
King John’s castle was nothing like I expected it to be. We were told it would be educational and it certainly was, but I didn’t expect a state of the art museum! There were so many amazing and interactive areas that break down and explain much of Limerick’s history and its importance to Irish history as a whole.
You walk through three levels of screens, replicas, models, quizzes and more that are full of fun information about the history of the castle from its conception to eventual downfall; you’re taken on this trip through the centuries in such a way that you feel like you were almost there. One of my highlights of the weekend was crawling through a siege tunnel on one of the levels!
After going through the ‘museum section’, the route took us through an area that is still being excavated and out into the Sunday sunshine where the conditions inside the castle walls during a siege are reconstructed. There’s empty stables and a shallow grave while the walls and towers loom over ominously.
A hike up a very steep and winding (with many warning signs) brought us to the top of a tower where we got our very best views of Limerick city and in the sunshine, it was absolutely glorious! We spent some time up here before we had to leave; knowing our next stop would be the bus journey back to Dublin.
We went past a very quiet Thomond Park but it still looked majestic against the skyline and our brilliant chauffeur, historian and comic for the day, Donal dropped us off on O’Connell street where we hopped on the bus for the journey home. Final thoughts as I slunk off to sleep were that Limerick is a city where almost everyone knows everyone else; everyone we spoke to was very friendly and helpful and we’ll hopefully be back someday!
Until next time and our next journey of #TrailsOfIreland!
You can experience all of what Limerick City has to offer from just €10 one way?