The town of Abbeyfeale is named after the Cistercian Abbey which was founded here in 1188, near the River Feale. Abbeyfeale is a town noted for Irish music, dance and song. In the town square is a statue to Father William Casey (1844-1907) who was parish priest of Abbeyfeale and noted champion of the fight against landlordism by the tenant farmers. It is situated almost on the Kerry border, and is said to be Limerick’s gateway to Tralee, Killarney and the Dingle Peninsula.
This old-world village of thatched cottages and lichened medieval churches is in wooded surroundings on the west bank of the River Maigue. Adare was adjudged winner of the annual Tidy Towns competition in 1976. Riding, trekking and other equestrian activities are available. There is salmon and trout fishing and golf (18). The washing pool and watering place for horses recalls a way of life that has vanished. Each year during July, Adare Manor hosts the Adare Festival, a major international music festival.
This pretty little village lies just outside Limerick on the River Mulcair, which tumbles over an attractive waterfall. The area is renowned for good salmon fishing.
On the River Deel, Askeaton is a town of growing importance in the industrial field. However, it was also of great importance during Geraldine times. Desmond Castle dominates the town. The tower rising from Deel island, the fine windows and fireplace, and to the west of the tower, a great banqueting hall are all from the 15th century. The Franciscan friary built in 1389 by probably Gearoid Iarla, was plundered and burnt in 1579 by Sir John Marbie. Some friars were also massacred. Saint Marys Church is a 13th century building, who’s ruins are the Protestant Church. Nearby is the grave of Aubrey de Vere, famous poet.
The pretty little village of Ballingarry is located in central Limerick.
Location of Limerick County Golf and Country Club, an 18 hole Championship course.
The road south from Lough Gur passes the village of Bruff, with its ruined castle of the de Laceys. A few miles to the east is Knockainy, only 537 feet high but prominent because of its isolation. It was named from a Munster princess who lived there in the second century (cnoc Aine means Aine’s Hill). In early times it was the venue of a festival like that of Tailte in County Meath. Knockainy village, on the east side of the hill, was a town of importance in medieval times.
Four miles (6 km) north-west is Bruree, a small village on the River Maigue. This was a residence of Munster Kings in early times (the Irish name means royal residence). The ruined castle beside the Protestant church is said to have been a de Lacy fortress. A small museum is dedicated to the memory of Eamon de Valera, a former President who went to school here.
Just 9.5km (6 miles) from Limerick, on the banks of the River Shannon, lies the picturesque town of Castleconnell. An enjoyable place to visit, with fine restaurants, shops and river walks to explore, Castleconnell is also a popular angling resort – of international acclaim. It is a resting ground for salmon during the spawning season. Remnants of Castleconnell’s glorious past may be viewed in and around the town. Situated on a rock overlooking the river are the remains of the deBurgo castle, which was destroyed by the Willamite General Ginkel in 1691. Before the Burkes, the O’ Conaings were lords of the place – hence the name Castleconnell (Caislean Ui Chonaing). In the 18th and 19th centuries, the medicinal spa well at Castleconnell made it a popular holiday resort for Limerick people. These healing spa waters, combined with its proximity to the spectacular falls of Doonass, not to mention its reputation for salmon angling, attracted huge numbers of holidaymakers every year. As a result of this, Castleconnell soon became a thriving, and wealthy town. The celebrated Irish writer, Frank O’ Connor, captures the scene at that time, when he writes: “…its arcaded assembly rooms, its charming inn, its rows of demure little villas…”. These old attractive villas may still be seen. As Castleconnell is on the main line railway network, for those either not travelling by car, or who wish to take a break from the road, the village is easy to get to.
Seven miles (11 km) south-east of Adare is the pleasant little town of Croom, in wooded country on the banks of the River Maigue. Beside the town are the remains of a stronghold of the Fitzgeralds, Croom Castle (1190). the war-cry of the Geraldines (Kildare branch) ‘Crom Abu’ (Croom to Victory) was taken from here. In the eighteenth century the town was the meeting-place of the ‘Maigue Poets’: Sean O Tuama, Aindrias Mac Craith and Sean Clarach Mac Domhnaill. An annual literary festival, Feile na Miaghe, held in towns in the Maigue district, now commemorates this gathering.
The village of Dromcolliher is found just to the east of the Mullaghareirk mountains.
Located on the southern shores of the Shannon Estuary is Foynes. This is the home to the flying boat museum, and is said to be the location in which the first Irish Coffee was mixed.
This charming village on the banks of the Shannon is the seat of the Knights of Glin, a branch of the Fitzgerlads who have lived in the district for seven centuries. Their first medieval castle is a ruin, but west of the village you can see their newer ancestral home, Glin Castle
This small town, a centre of the dairying industry, is beautifully situated overlooking the Golden Vale to the north and backed on other sides by hills. The main point of interest in the town is Kilfinane Motte, a great flat-topped mound encircled by three earthen ramparts. The town is also the centre for holidaying in rural Ireland, with farm trails, horse-riding and walking on the recently opened Ballyhoura Way.
Kilmallock, a small country town in the fertile Golden Vale, was once the headquarters of the earls of Desmond and one of the most important towns in Munster. A small museum features scale models of Stone Age habitations, a model of medieval Kilmallock and a small collection of materials relating to the locality in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Limerick is Ireland’s third largest city and lies on a strategic point on the River Shannon. Founded by the Vikings in the 10th century, Limerick is shaking off its reputation for high unemployment and general neglect and is emerging as a city revitalized by new industries and impressive restoration projects. The King’s Island area of Limerick was the first part of the city to be settled by the Vikings. It is home to two of the city’s most famous landmarks – St Mary’s Cathedral and King John’s Castle. St Mary’s is the oldest building in Limerick. Founded in 1172, the original Romanesque west doorway and clerestory are still in existence. Check out the magnificent black-oak misericords dating from the 15th century. King John of England built a castle to guard the Shannon between 1200 and 1212. An imposing sight, the castle was a formidable symbol of British power in the west of Ireland. Today it houses an exhibition on the history of the city and replicas of siege machinery. The Treaty Stone marking the spot on the riverbank where the Treaty of Limerick was signed in 1691 lies directly opposite the castle. Don’t miss the excellent Hunt Museum on Rutland Street. Housed in the Palladian Custom House, it houses the best collection of Bronze Age, Celtic and medieval treasures outside Dublin. The Limerick City Gallery of Art on Pery Square is well worth a visit for its excellent permanent collection which includes works by Jack B. Yeats. Limerick has some stylish cafes – ideal for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up – and fine restaurants serving a range of different cuisines. After dark, head for one of the city’s lively pubs or take in a play at the well-known Belltable Arts Centre.
Newcastle West is the largest town in Limerick. It takes its name from the Geraldine castle built in the late 12th/early 13th century. It became in time their chief manor. In the remains of the castle, just off the town square, are two great banqueting halls – the Desmond Hall and the Great Hall, a peel tower, a keep, a bastion and a curtain wall. The fourth Earl of Desmond, Gearoid Iarla, died here in 1399. He was a famous figure in folklore, legend and poetry. There is an extensive park in Newcastle West, which has pleasant walks and playing pitches.
In eastern Limerick is the village of Pallasgreen, access is good in the area as the N24 road connecting Tipperary and Limerick City passes close by.
Patrickswell is a small village that lies along the N20 road that leads into Limerick City.
Rathkeale is the second largest town in County Limerick. The long main street has some fine examples of Doric and Lonic doorways, some with fanlights. The courthouse is from the early 19th century. It was an important Geraldine town. In 1709, around 200 families, refugees from Germany, were settled in the Rathkeale area. Today, the names of their descendants are still in evidence – such as Teskey, Ruttle, Switzer and Shier. A 13th century Augustinian abbey, now in ruins, can be seen in the town centre.