Limerick has long been a strategic city, built to defend the mouth of the River Shannon from invaders. It was originally a modest Viking settlement but was recaptured by Irish hero Brian Ború and fortified with a massive castle and formidable walls. The medieval city remained largely unchanged until the 18th century, when a grand plan of civic improvement saw the construction of wide streets and leafy squares lined by gracious Georgian townhouses.
Today, it’s a delightful place to wander and this privately guided two-hour tour offers the chance to see it with local eyes, its history, heritage and intriguing past revealed by a Limerick expert.
Your guide will meet you at your hotel to start your walking tour of the city. Compact and easy to get around, it's possible to see a lot in a short space of time here. Depending on where you've chosen to stay you may walk through Newtown Pery, the city's most regal district with its stately Georgian architecture. Your guide will explain the ambitious plans for the city's 18th-century redevelopment and the social ambitions of the wealthy at the time.
You’ll then visit the Hunt Museum, set in the impressive former custom house which was built in 1759 overlooking the river. This museum houses an engaging collection of art and artefacts from across the ages, accumulated by the Hunt family who were private collectors and advisors to the prestigious auction house Sotheby’s.
The displays cover everything from ancient Egypt to medieval monastic treasures and celebrated Irish art, as well as including work by Picasso, Renoir, Jack B. Yeats, Henry Moore and Sybil Connolly. The collection is well interpreted, but your guide, or a knowledgeable museum guide, will point out pieces of particular significance and can help throw light on any pieces of interest to you.
From the museum you'll make your way upriver to the imposing King John’s Castle which sits impressively on the banks of the River Shannon. The sheer bulk of the 13th-century castle, along with its waterfront position, are a defining feature of the city skyline. It was built to defend the city in medieval times and inside, 800 years of local history are revealed in a timeline of interactive displays and exhibits.
You'll learn about living conditions over the passage of time, siege warfare and how earlier fortifications on the site might have looked in Viking and Norman times. Examining the castle’s foundations you can see remnants of these former structures.
Several of the castle rooms are set up as they would have been when the castle was in its prime and you can learn about the different roles of people living and working in the castle, and learn about life in a military fortress.
The tour lasts approximately two hours and ends in central Limerick. Afterwards, your guide will walk back to your hotel with you or can suggest further places to visit in your own time.