Limerick Provides An Irish Cultural Experience
By: Tom Malone - Summer 2017
Limerick, Ireland - Limerick sits just inland of Ireland’s wild West Coast along the Shannon River. It’s the third most populated city in the country, but it still gives travelers an authentic Irish feel. Oftentimes, urban areas lack a sense of cultural authenticity; Limerick does not.
Lined with pubs, Limerick’s main area allows the adventurer to sit and listen in on day-to-day conversations, whether pertaining to sports, politics, or nothing of inherent value at all. The town also contains plenty of places to order a real, hearty, Irish meal.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Angela’s Ashes, is set in Limerick in the 1930s-40s; this novel gives its readers a glimpse into where Limerick was not too long ago. Strolling through modern-day Limerick gives fans of the book plenty of opportunities to see the neighborhoods, parks, and churches that are featured prominently in the novel.
To gain a deeper sense of Limerick’s history, a traveler can visit King John’s Castle. Dating back to 1210 c.e. and named for King John (originator of the Magna Carta, bad guy in Robin Hood legends, and former Lord of Ireland), the castle features a well-done museum that highlights the entire history of Limerick - from Celtic territory, to Viking settlement, to the invasion of the English. Visitors can easily explore the castle itself, climb its towers, and reenact medieval castle life.
Modern Limerick draws from its past in other ways as well. Limerick features a hurling team - Ireland’s traditional, national sport that features rough defense and fast-paced offense. Whether attending a game in Limerick or watching in a public venue, the people of Limerick’s dedication to their hurling team makes the adventurer feel like they’re actually in Ireland.
Drawing from its tradition, Limerick’s food scene is going through somewhat of a renaissance. Using Irish ingredients and adding modern flare, Limerick’s restaurants and chefs are cooking up some new Irish authenticity, from pizza to new spins on the traditional Irish breakfast. Even old hotels and hostels are reviving themselves to produce a revived authenticity.
If you’re thinking about a trip to Ireland, or to the Wild Atlantic Way specifically, make Limerick a stopping point. And spend a few day exploring the town that helped to shape Ireland into the cultural phenomenon it is today.