This year Limerick in Ireland hosts the City of Culture 2014 with a packed calendar of festivals and events spanning arts, sport, architecture, theatre, music, comedy and dance. The city dates back to 812 and boasts an exciting array of cultural sights and historical gems.
Limerick City Gallery of Art – The city’s Pery Square is home to the best art gallery for contemporary art, with a packed calendar of exhibitions planned for 2014. It also boasts a permanent collection of 18th to 20th century Irish art.
Frank McCourt Museum – If you’ve seen the film or read the book, Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt, you will have been moved by the reality of the period. Limerick was the setting for memoir and in 2011 the quirky little Frank McCourt Museum opened in his former school on the city’s Harstonge Street. On display are many artefacts from Angela’s Ashes as well as Frank's Ashes.
King John’s Castle – Get to know one of Limerick’s most iconic and well–loved landmarks. This 13th century gem is newly reopened after a major facelift. And for 2014 King John's Castle hosts a brand new visitor experience, bringing some 800 years of tumultuous local history to life.
Limerick Racecourse – An important mainstay of the Irish culture, Limerick racecourse offers a great day out. With eighteen days of bot flat and national hunt racing each year; this new complex brings more than 200 years of rich history to life.
Thomond Park Stadium – Munster Rugby’s heritage comes to life at this stadium which has an on-site museum as well as offering stadium tours. Newcomers should check out the ‘We Are Munster’ film which details the proud local history.
St Mary's Cathedral – Bridge Street is home to this magnificent cathedral which dates back to 1168 – in fact this is the oldest and most revered building in the city.
Treaty Stone – This is the rock upon which in 1691 the Treaty of Limerick was signed, signalling the surrender of the city to William of Orange.
Jim Kemmy Municipal Museum – The city’s Merchants' Quay is home to the Jim Kemmy Municipal Museum, which won the highly coveted Gulbenkian Award (for outstanding museums and art galleries) in 1992. It features many comprehensive displays that bring the long and rich tapestry of Limericks history to life.
Lough Gur Visitor Centre – Neolithic history is brought to life at the immersive Lough Gur where you are transported back to pre-Celtic Ireland around 3000 BC. Here there are sites of Neolithic houses as well as majestic medieval castles. Lough Gur features a vast array of monuments spanning every era. The breathtaking beauty of the local folklore and archaeology comes to life in full 3D.
Ballyhoura Trails – Get active in Limerick on these well-marked walking and cycling trails which take in some seriously stunning countryside. Walk and bike besides rushing rivers and quite country lanes which is teeming with nature. Explore looming mountains, ancient bogs and mystical lands.
St John's Cathedral – Handsome St Johns boasts the tallest spire in Ireland peaking at 308 feet tall. The typically Victorian Gothic architecture is all the more impressive up close, topped off by a one and a half ton bell. In 1912 Pope Pius X decreed the building a cathedral.
The Hunt Museum – Located within the Custom House is the Hunt Collection consisting of more than 2,000 original pieces of art, making it incredibly important internationally. The art and antiquity on display contains a stunning collection of pieces including the Leonardo da Vinci horse, as well as the cross of Mary Queen of Scots. Don’t miss the superb collection of paintings which includes works from Picasso, Renoir, Yeats Gauguin and O'Connor.
Local Poetry – Yes the infamous ‘limerick’ poem originates from here and the traditional local verse can still be heard in the bars and clubs across the city. Try one, but be careful around young ears as limericks are traditionally rather bawdy!
Limerick Garden Trail – Gardeners will be awe at the Limerick Garden Trail where each summer, 7 of the best local gardens are opened to the public. Some have won National Awards and some have even been featured in gardening magazines. Gardens include; Ballynacourty Gardens, Boyce Gardens in Ballysteen, Mountrenchard, Glin Castle at Foynes, Knockpatrick Gardens in Glin, Moanwing Gardens in Foynes, Rathkeale’s Terra Nova Plants and the Garden at Kilmallock.
Image credit: Bjørn Christian Tørrissen CC BY-SA 3.0