Limerick, Ireland

In terms of vibes, Limerick definitely has a different one than the other European cities I’ve stopped in.

You’ve got some boarded up windows, light foot traffic on the main streets, a definite working class feel, some colour amongst the grey.  Apparently, Limerick has a reputation within Ireland as being rough, and was actually the crime capital of Europe years back.  Add to that some high unemployment and you don’t quite feel like you’re on the tourist trail.
That said, having a good time!
Kathy and Kev were nice enough to give me a ride down to my friend Andrew’s place, and we all went for lunch at a great pub called The Locke.  Had one if the best sausage-based meals ever, some leek and pork links on a big bed of mashed potatoes surrounded by a delicious au jus sort of sauce.  Also had their house stout – damn good.  Said goodbye to the happy couple, got moved in to my new place for the next few days, then off to pubs.
First up was the Curragower, which had nice views over the river (which is, apparently, popular for jumping in to when it’s flooded over and you’re not happy with life).  Pint of Beamish there before heading to Mickey Martins, with more pints of stout, including a Guinness Dublin Porter,a Neames Stout, and a Guinness West Indies Stout (Guinness is diversifying).  Probably my favourite pub of the ones we visited, had a legit Irish feel right down to a friendly, knowledgeable bartender.  The Blind Pig was next, where we met up with a few of Andrew’s friends from school over here, and at that point, I knew I was having more beer, but couldn’t name it for you, but it was all delicious.  Pubs close at midnight here, but there are a few that have special status to stay open, and Nancy’s was one of them.  Some inside space, some outside space, lots of people and a great conversation with Andrew’s friend Shelley about Archer and other fun stuff!  We got to about 3:30 am before finally making it back to the apartment for some much needed sleep.
So the day started late, like noon.  Andrew had thesis work to do, so I wandered down to Arthur’s Quay, stopping for a “Full Irish” crepe at Fitto Cafe.  Meaty breakfast in a crepe, pretty much exactly what was needed.  It was a sunny day in Limerick today, which lessened some of the grey I noted earlier, and made the day’s walking a bit more enjoyable.  Lots of pedestrian-only streets, making for a good walking experience.

There’s a handful of interesting sights to see here.  First up was St. Mary’s Cathedral, a 900 year old church which is just adorable on the outside and inside, with some friendly folks at the door collecting Euros and answering your questions.  Very neat to see a few displays inside, including one collage that talked about the church work and featured several rainbow flags.  Neat to see.

The big draw in Limerick is King John’s Castle, and I would actually rank it as one of the best castle museums I’ve been to.  Lots of interactive components (after having seen the Country Life Museum in Castlebar, I can tell you that this is something Ireland really shines at), interesting displays that explain how the castle fit into the context of  Limerick and the wars between Ireland and England, great views over the city.  It takes a little time to go through, but you’re never bored, as it is just chock-a-block with information and displays.  It’s two years removed from having a bunch of money dumped into it, and the work and financing definitely shows.

The castle was named after King John, the same King John featured as a villain in the Robin Hood stories, brother to Richard the Lionheart, partly responsible for the Magna Carta.  He never lived there, though.  Lots of displays and information on his life as well.  If you’re in Limerick, it’s pretty much the can’t miss attraction.

Crossed the bridge to the other side of the river (still loaded with Pride flags), saw the Treaty Stone, upon which a peace accord between England and Ireland was signed, and walked back down to O’Connell street to grab a cold drink.  Got some tour stuff sorted for tomorrow, figured out how to get to Dublin for my early flight in a couple of days, met up with Andrew at Costa Coffee and we went to another new Limerick attraction, the Hunt Museum.

This is one of those “Family Donates Collection, Makes A Museum” spots, with 2000 items being donated by the Hunt family.  Monday was a 2-for-1 day, so good deal getting in!  One interesting feature of the museum is the use of drawers, where they’ll have big cabinets set up with drawers you can pull out to reveal paintings by Gauguin or Picasso.  Items range from the prehistoric age to the the 19th century and it makes for a nice collection.  One of the more interesting items is (allegedly) one of the 30 pieces of silver that Judas received to sell out Jesus.  Not sure how that got there, or how they verified that, interesting nonetheless.

At this point, absolutely zonked, so headed back to the apartment for some rest and pizza, which seems to be what you do in Ireland after a night of excessive drinking.

Anyhow, Limerick is pretty nice, and from the castle renos to the new museum, you can tell they’re working on raising their profile a bit.  It’s not a must-see destination at this point, but not a bad place to find yourself in, either.

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