Co. Limerick has a fairly distinct advantage over the Republic of Ireland’s capital, Dublin, in terms of its scenic setting. Limerick city itself curves around the full rush of the river Shannon- the largest river in Ireland and is the main touchstone location of the mid-west or Shannon region. Now, despite what you may have heard about the more nefarious features of certain areas of the city, Limerick actually plays host to some of the best cultural hotspots around. It’s thriving literary and artistic culture make for a seriously buzzing atmosphere- especially in the summer months along the host of bars and cafes which line the river quays. Limerick is difficult to get the whole way around in just a few days, however, TMO has gathered five must do’s for those time constrained visitors:
1)The Hunt Museum
Situated right on the river, the Hunt holds one of the finest private collections of art in Ireland including international greats from Renoir, Picasso and Yeats to medieval and Neolithic treasures (including the Greek coin reputed to be one of Judas’ thirty pieces of silver!). Visiting the museum costs less than a tenner (with further concessions for children, students, OAP’s and student groups). You can either mosey around the collections on your own or you can avail of regular free tours (approximately an hour, depending on the guide). The gift shop is particularly good, stocking lots in the way of weird and wonderful souvenir ideas as well as some truly beautiful jewellery and art-themed merchandise.
For more information go to www.huntmuseum.com/
2)Angela’s Ashes Walking Tour
As far as clichés of Ireland go, the setting for Frank McCourt’s acclaimed novel Angela’s Ashes doesn’t get, eh let’s say more ‘authentic’ than on the streets of Limerick! Aside from the (more often than not- not) tongue in cheek nod to Ireland’s sooty heritage, the tour itself is actually great fun and historically interesting in terms of streetlore and the history of the city. It also promises to educate and entertain- especially for fans of the book itself as the tour will take visitors on a trail of places mentioned throughout.
For more information go to http://www.iol.ie/~avondoyl/angelas1.htm
3)The Milk Market
This is a really buzzing part of the city and perfect for those wishing to meander around locally produced (as well as some seriously exotic foods) and artisan foods. With over 50 stalls, the market is choc-full of local farmers etc. who love nothing better to give mini culinary tours of their produce, along with mounds of information about the traditional food of the region. The market has in fact evolved into its own culinary forum and so the atmosphere is authentic and sincere in terms of a passion for organic and interesting food produce. I know what you’re thinking….it often rains in Limerick. Never fear, however as the market has recently been weatherproofed so you may stuff your gills in peace and mindless of the weather!
For more information go to www.milkmarketlimerick.ie
Limerick is famous for its live music and entertainment and so if you are in town than you really should drop into Dolans and catch a gig or two. Dolans plays host not only to the very best in live traditional music acts but also to international artists making it the hottest musical venue in town. The food is also worth staying for with superb seafood and a truly electric atmosphere.
For more information go to www.dolanspub.com
5)The White House Bar
If a quieter and more literary evening is more up your street than look no further than The White House Bar the heart of the city centre on O’Connell Street. Definitely the best traditional pub in Limerick, the White House has a homey and relaxed atmosphere and also has a thriving literary scene. Every Wednesday night there is an open mic session as well as poetry readings by many of the region’s finest poets. Entry is free and you may even get some sausages and chips floating over to you if you hang about. The sessions are especially good in terms of spontaneity and sheer talent that you just don’t get anywhere else. Well worth a stop in for the black stuff.