Luimneach/Limerick: Castles and Crosses

I spent a day on my own, wandering through Limerick, or Luimneach. As a city, Limerick exemplifies the complex history of Ireland. Vikings, Scots, English (Norman English, Victorian English), and native Irish all played a part in Limerick’s development. 

My only preparation was a guidebook and Bus Eireann. ( I love Bus Eireann. I highly recommend it. The bus ran, even when the trains went on strike. Comfy seats, perfect for quick travel naps.)

I arrived in Limerick and I had no itinerary but to explore.  I wish I had taken the Angela’s Ashes Walking Tour and see where Frank McCourt spent his childhood. It’s first thing to do on my list when I return. McCourt says this in the first pages of Angela’s Ashes: “Limerick gained a reputation for piety, but we knew it was only the rain.”

©Sheila R. Lamb

I meandered through the city on a cloudy (but not raining) day in July and found a cemetery where I saw my first Celtic cross. It happened  have the Lamb name, so I was impressed. Now I wonder if William Lamb Stokes, High Sheriff of the City of Limerick, was particularly well-liked during the years of 1909 and 1910.   

From there, I went to King John’s Castle, across the River Shannon, on it’s own island. Built (obviously) under the reign of King John of England, it was considered a Protestant haven during the Irish Rebellion of 1641. Even in earlier times of peace and prosperity, Limerick was divided as an English side, on Inis Sibhtonn, or King’s Island, where the castle was located, and the Irish city across the river.    
©Sheila R. Lamb

Though Limerick was founded by the Vikings in 922, the Irish captured the city some forty years later, enduring a few more Viking skirmishes. Until the formation of the Irish Free State and later, the Republic of Ireland (Eire), the turbulent history between England and Ireland is defined in the city  of Limerick. 

Sources: Tim Lambert’s A History of Limerick, Ireland.

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