“The perception of Limerick has been challenged in the last couple of years and experience does not match the perception in a positive way,” said Donnacha Hurley, general manager of the Absolute Hotel in Limerick.
He went on to say, “you have to scratch beneath the surface but it pays you back in spades. As a city it is a tough nut to crack, it’s a bit urban, it’s not always beautiful and it can be gritty, but very rewarding.” said Mr. Hurley.
Having spent two days in the city, I can agree with him. There is a great vibrancy about Limerick. The city buzzes with art, culture, museums, Georgian architecture, restaurants, local food and huge street cred.
The Atlantic Edge and Wild Atlantic Way
Two big things have happened for Limerick lately. The first is the positioning and branding of Limerick as Atlantic Edge Limerick European Embrace. This branding puts the city right in the middle of Europe and the United States.
Limerick Council, is asking businesses, individuals and organisation to come together as a connected community to support one another and embrace the new Limerick brand.
The other major news is Limerick has been designated the Wild Atlantic Way’s first gateway city. The famous 2,600-kilometre route stretches from Malin Head in Donegal to Kinsale in Cork. These two major brandings are bound to have an effect on a city that has reeled for years in bad media coverage. Already signs of the new brandings, both regional and international are beginning to appear in the city.
What to do in Limerick
The Hunt Museum, The Custom House, Rutland Street, Limerick
Limerick was the lucky recipient of the generosity of the Hunt Family where it preserves and exhibits the original artefacts gathered, over a life time, by John and Gertrude Hunt and known as the Hunt Collection.
The Museum also displays its own collections, as well as visiting exhibitions of Local, National and International significance with the overall aim of maximising their cultural and educational potential for the people of Limerick and Ireland.
Last week the Hunt opened a new art exhibition; A Wild Atlantic Way. The inspiration for the exhibition first came to Naomi O’Nolan, recently retired Head of Exhibitions at The Hunt Museum. During the first lockdown she spent time on the West Coast and found her inspiration here.
“For centuries, the majestical West of Ireland and the uniqueness of its coastline has attracted artists from all over the world. This exhibition focuses on the allure of the West Coast of Ireland to artists both past and present and how they have captured the ways of life and customs of people living and working on the coastline. It also captures the power and the beauty of the land and seascape,” she said.”
The Hunt Museum’s summer exhibition “A Wild Atlantic Way” gives visitors the chance to travel the Wild Atlantic Way from Donegal to Kinsale and experience the essence and soul of Ireland through a series of atmospheric and strikingly evocative paintings by 30 artists.
Among them are some of the greatest known Irish artists from the past 200 years. The series of paintings do not dwell on the sad aspects of rural Irish life in the past. It focuses on the social traditions, seascapes and landscapes of this wild coastline.
The exhibition features works created between 1800’s and 2019 by Irish born artists or artists drawn to Ireland by the beauty of the Wild Atlantic Way. This major exhibition accentuates traditional habits and ways of life – remembering people and history through painting.
Tickets: Adults €10, Children go Free. Booking is essential to comply with Covid19 restrictions. You can book tickets online Hunt Museum or by calling (061) 312 833.
Wild Geese Museum – St. Munchin’s Church, King’s Island
The Limerick Wild Geese Museum was officially launched as part of the 2021 Limerick Bastille Day Wild Geese Festival on July 9, 2021.
The Mayor of Limerick City and County, Councillor Daniel Butler at his first official event welcomed the guests and visitors to the Wild Geese Museum in the old St Munchin’s church (King’s Island) on Friday evening to mark the occasion of its official opening.
This museum is a joint project by the Limerick Civic Trust, the Limerick Museum and the Consular Agency of France in Limerick (French Embassy). It celebrates the city’s rich Wild Geese heritage by giving an overview of the history of those who left Ireland over the centuries and went on to fight in foreign armies across Europe and the world.
The term Wild Geese was originally coined to refer more specifically to the 14,000 Jacobite soldiers and their families who left Limerick, led by Patrick Sarsfield, following the signing of the Treaty in 1691. The majority of them, including Sarsfield, ended up joining the French army of king Louis XIV. Many of them, and their descendants, settled and prospered in France (a significant number of them, known as the ‘wine geese’, in the Bordeaux engaging in wine production) greatly contributing to strengthening the links between France and Ireland. Open 10am – 4pm Monday to Friday.
The museum tells their story and features a wide range of objects from Limerick Museum which had never been put on display before Wild Geese Museum.
Limerick Museum – The Old Franciscan Friary, Henry Street, Limerick
The collection illustrates the history of Limerick and its people. The displays include archaeological artefacts, Limerick silver, Limerick lace, examples of local printing, military artefacts and much more. Limerick Museum has one of the largest collections of any Irish museum.
Established in 1916, the museum is the oldest local authority museum in the state and with nearly 60,000 objects and its aim is to collect, preserve and display objects that tell the story of Limerick and its people, Limerick Museum.
St. Mary’s Cathedral – Kings Island
Call me a ghoul but I always love to look at churches and graveyards on my travels. St
Mary’s Cathedral in Limerick does not disappoint. It is a tribute to medieval architetcure as it was built in 1168 and flying buttresses and stunning stained-glass windows. The graveyard is full of Limerick history. The Un memorial garden for Irish soldiers who served with the UN peace-keeping forces over the years. St. Mary’s.
Limerick Street Art
A great way to explore the city of Limerick to take a walking tour. The Absolute Hotel has the perfect map for guests to download or print off. It takes you on a tour of Limerick’s edgy street art. There are some really fantastic images to see.
One of the most looked at is the image of Dolores O’Riordan, a multi-colour mural at Castle Street, by the artist ACHES. It has become an attraction and is well located beside King John’s Castle. Other artists with images on the walls of Limerick include the renowned Maser, SUB SET, Jonathan Noonan and more.
As we passed the Treaty City Brewery on Nicholas Street in the Medieval Quarter of the city, owner Stevie Cunneen told us about the image on his gable wall by EMIC. It is of a famous Limerick actress Connie Smith. She was a film star in the 1950s and 1960s and was known for her fiery temper. She was accused of attempted murder of her husband. The city is easy to walk around and you can find more street art down lanes and side streets.
For a restaurant with a view, you cannot beat the Curragower Bar and Restaurant on Clancy’s Quay. It is one of the few restaurants on the river and there are great views. The menu is perfect for casual dining. The seafood is great and we enjoyed a lunch of prawn, pil pil, not the usual version, but very tasty house version, and a dish of creamy mussels, Curragower.
The Cornstore in Thomas Street has managed to stay open with the addition of a lovely outdoor terrace. The restaurant has a commitment to providing from local farms and suppliers. The beef is excellent. The Cornstore serves lunch and dinner every day.
Rossis on the River
Is this the liveliest restaurant in Limerick? They have a great outdoor area with lots of seating and very efficient waiting staff. The menu is Italian with a great selection of grilled meats and poultry. We had a spicy pizza and the cocktails were good value. George’s Quay, Rossis.
The long-standing Milk Market is always worth a visit and with suppliers of foods from around the Golden Vale, and the coast. It is a foodie’s paradise and is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday, closes early. Milk Market
Places to Stay
I stayed in the Absolute Hotel, on Sir Harry’s Mall, Limerick. It is an arty, funky hotel with some very interesting pieces of art. I loved the woven Cat by Graham Knuttel in the lobby.
The hotel overlooks a wildlife sanctuary on the river and is very quiet. Harry’s Bar is on a deck above the river and perfect for sundowners.
The restaurant is on this level too and has great views. The hotel has organised breakfast very well so that all cold foods, like cereal, fruit, breads, are pre-wrapped and hot breakfast is served to your table.
In the bedroom, it was unusual to find a box with all the usual items pre-wrapped. So, coffee, tea, milk and sugar were in the box with individual packages of toiletries. The hotel website has lots of brilliant things to do in Limerick and well worth looking at before your visit to make sure you pack in as much as possible. Absolutehotel.com.
Limerick benefited from the building of a number of new hotels in the city in the past 15 years and there is a good variety to choose from. They include chain hotels like the Clayton and Maldron, as well as old grand hotels like the Savoy a five-star hotel and the four-star Strand. The boutique guesthouse One Pery Square is an ideal location for classic Georgian-style stay.
See Limerick.ie for additional things to do in the city.