Limerick city

The Hunt Museum, Limerick City
The Hunt Museum, Limerick City

The polar opposite of the memoirs relayed in Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes, Limerick is a lively city bubbling with beautiful Georgian architecture, grand museums and rugby-obsessed locals

Set to music by Daniel O’Donnell in his ballad Limerick, You’re a Lady, the waters of the River Shannon are the beauty that surrounds you during any outing here. But where should you go to first?

There are few better places to start than the beautifully restored Milk Market on Cornmarket Row. It’s like a microcosm of the city: colourful, fun, energetic, with occasional pop-up restaurant events, artisan foods, antiques, music and art.

The lady Limerick

“It has to be said that this is Limerick at its best,” writes Jack on TripAdvisor, “it is a hive of activity, fun and the essence of true living. Everywhere you look there are artisan producers and growers, all mixed in with the friendly street traders.”

Founded by the Vikings in the 9th century, today’s Limerick glows with a more Georgian feel, particularly around the Newtown Perry area. But this is a city that thrives on its individuality. Wander down the line alley of Fox’s Bow, and you’ll find a curiously quirky collection of craft, leather and jewellery stores, where you can pick up everything from Celtic silver to a blackthorn shillelagh (a traditional walking stick).

Far better souvenirs than that leprechaun key-ring you had your eye on. Honest.

Behind these castle walls

In the medieval heart of the city on King’s Island, step inside the 800-year-old St John’s Castle, once the site of the dramatic Siege of Limerick in 1690. St John’s remains one of the most intact medieval castles in Ireland, and boasts incredible views out over the River Shannon.

City of culture 2014

Designated as Ireland’s first City of Culture for 2014, Limerick’s rich cultural life can be seen in world-renowned museums, such as the Hunt, as well as the Limerick City Gallery of Art, housed in the historic Carnegie Building.

Good sports

If culture is the city’s lifeblood, then sport is its beating heart. Strike up a conversation with a garrulous rugby supporter in a convivial pub and they’ll delight in telling you about memorable Munster victories. A particular win against New Zealand’s All Blacks has made its way into local and national sporting folklore.

In 2011, Limerick was crowned European City of Sport, a deserved accolade for a place that promotes sporting excellence.

But for those who prefer to listen to music in pubs rather than sports talk, the place to head is Dolan’s on Dock Road, which features live music most nights as well as cutting-edge stand-up comedians.

Peace, quiet and a slice of luxury are on the menu, too. Step inside No1 Pery Square and you’ll know what we mean. You’d hardly believe it, but within the walls of this 200-year old Georgian townhouse are period guestrooms, a wine shop, a spa, a fine-dining restaurant and a drawing room where afternoon tea is served around a blazing turf fire.

But hey, what else would you expect from a lady like Limerick?