Limerick is Ireland’s third largest city and lies on a strategic point on the River Shannon. Founded by the Vikings in the 10th century, Limerick is shaking off its reputation for high unemployment and general neglect and is emerging as a city revitalized by new industries and impressive restoration projects. The King’s Island area of Limerick was the first part of the city to be settled by the Vikings. It is home to two of the city’s most famous landmarks – St Mary’s Cathedral and King John’s Castle. St Mary’s is the oldest building in Limerick. Founded in 1172, the original Romanesque west doorway and clerestory are still in existence. Check out the magnificent black-oak misericords dating from the 15th century. King John of England built a castle to guard the Shannon between 1200 and 1212. An imposing sight, the castle was a formidable symbol of British power in the west of Ireland. Today it houses an exhibition on the history of the city and replicas of siege machinery. The Treaty Stone marking the spot on the riverbank where the Treaty of Limerick was signed in 1691 lies directly opposite the castle. Don’t miss the excellent Hunt Museum on Rutland Street. Housed in the Palladian Custom House, it houses the best collection of Bronze Age, Celtic and medieval treasures outside Dublin. The Limerick City Gallery of Art on Pery Square is well worth a visit for its excellent permanent collection which includes works by Jack B. Yeats. Limerick has some stylish cafes – ideal for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up - and fine restaurants serving a range of different cuisines. After dark, head for one of the city’s lively pubs or take in a play at the well-known Belltable Arts Centre.
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