Galway and Limerick
We left Westport to travel to Limerick City but first we planned to stop in Galway...
When we spent the Covid lockdown in Belfast we had been watching the television series Jack Taylor - an Irish mystery television drama based on the novels by Ken Bruen that is set in Galway. It's about Jack Taylor, a former officer with the Garda (national police) who becomes a "finder" (private investigator) after leaving the service. Of course he has his demons - mainly ’the drink’ and while he moves in many circles in Galway he seems the most comfortable in the seedier ones. We became fans of the programme, loving the Irish accent and the Irish sayings, as well as getting a glimpse of another Irish city and so we had to stop in Galway to visit some of the locations we had seen on the tele...
Anne, Alan’s sister had also introduced me to a series of books set in Galway - where the protagonist is a detective in the Garda - The Cormac Reilly books by Dervla McTiernan - check them out, they are very good!
We arrived on a cool, cloudy day - which didn’t really show Galway at its best but certainly resonated with the bleak city of Jack Taylor - lots of grey stone streets and buildings and the water in the Corrib river that flowed into Galway Bay was so Black and sinister looking (as Dervla McTiernan describes it) - even though it was summer! We pretty much just strolled around the city, visiting Jack’s Crane Bar and then down to Galway Bay to take where the Corrib River flows into Galway Bay on the Atlantic Coast.
Normally at this time of the year there is the Galway Races Summer Festival - but with Covid and social distancing this years festival took place behind closed doors, which meant that the races could only be watched on the television at home, at the bookmakers or in the pubs that were allowed to open (those that served food). Galway was trying to encourage the usual festive atmosphere with flags in the street and racing decorations in the shops.
1-2 Jack Taylors’s Crane Bar
3-5 Galway Bay
6-7 River Corrib - fast flowing black water
8-9 Gute Galway street scenes
10-11 Summer Festival Flags
Our next stop was for two nights in Limerick City before going to our house-sit (see the blog post Our first house and Pet sit). The house-sit was about 20 minutes drive from Limerick city and so we also had some time to explore during those two weeks.
A few facts about our time there and about Limerick in general...
Limerick is in the province of Munster and is Ireland’s third largest city.
It was founded by the Vikings in 812.
It lies on the Shannon River, the longest river in Ireland - The Shannon divides the west of Ireland from the east and south.
There is a fabulous farmer’s market on Friday and Saturday mornings - in the Milk Market on Cornmarket Row - which sits under a large canopy or “big top”. On our first Saturday in Limerick we prepared for our trip to the market with a 'half Irish Breakfast' at a nearby cafe.
Alan was very disappointed that the rugby museum at Thomond park was closed.
Thomond Park is the venue of a famous rugby match still talked about in Ireland - when Munster played the All Blacks in 1978 - and given that it is still talked about there you can probably guess what the outcome was!
The University of Limerick has the longest footbridge in Ireland and one of the longest footbridges in Europe - it is called the Living Bridge! - We checked it out - pictures below
Limerick was where the author Frank McCourt grew up in poverty - his memoir Angela’s Ashes is an enlightening read!
in 1691, Limerick was where the Williamite War reached its conclusion, and ushered in tough times for Ireland’s Catholics.
Limerick is known as the Treaty City because when it was signed on 3 October 1691, it ended the 1689 to 1691 Williamite War in Ireland. It is believed that it was signed using a large stone set in the bridge as a table. This stone is known as the Treaty Stone and it is displayed on a pedestal in Limerick city - picture below.
The medieval heart of the city is on King’s Island where you will find the 800 year old King John’s castle.
Like Belfast - the city is arranged into quarters - of which there are more than 4! including the Old Quarter, the Market Quarter, the Georgian Quarter, the Fashion Quarter and the Medieval Quarter - we mostly hung out in the Medieval, Market and Old Quarters with a brief foray to the Georgian Quarter where we
celebrated my birthday in August in a beautiful little hotel restaurant at No.1 Pery Square in Newtown Pery - a 200-year old Georgian townhouse/hotel with a fine dining restaurant - it was perfect! Eating out in Ireland page on this website.
Of course when you mention the city of Limerick one of the first things that come to mind is - well, Limericks...
A limerick by Edward Lear
There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, 'It is just as I feared!
Two Owls and a Hen, Four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard!
As well as celebrating my birthday in Limerick - Alan’s sister Anne and her husband Alain had joined us and it was Anne’s birthday then too - and, so with a just a little assistance from us she put together a limerick for her birthday
A limerick by Anne (and Alan, Alain and Fiona)
There was an old granny called Annie
who thought she was terribly canny
while having a jar, in a County Clare Bar
she was voted most glamorous granny
1-3 The River Shannon, St John’s Castle and the Thomond Bridge - The original Thomond bridge was built in approximately 1185. It is the oldest bridge in Limerick city, and was once the only bridge across the Shannon. The current bridge was built in the 18th and early 19th century.
4-5 Close-ups of St John's castle
6-7 The Limerick farmers market - aka the Milk Market on Cornmarket Row
8 The Great Romanesque West Door of Saint Mary’s Cathedral. The Cathedral was founded in 1168 A.D. on a hill on King’s Island, which is the oldest part of Limerick. It is the oldest building in Limerick still in continuous daily use.
9 The Treaty Stone
10 The flags fly proudly all; around the city
11-13 Built in the 17th century next to St John's Castle, the Alms Houses were originally built to house the widows of soldiers from the Castle. They remain an intact terrace of houses and are part of the history of King John's Castle and the medieval quarter.
14-16 the longest footbridge in Ireland and one of the longest footbridges in Europe - it is the Living Bridge at Limerick University and was built in 2007. Designed by WilkinsonEyre as an organic response to its natural environment
17 The Shannon River from the Living Bridge
19 One of the Universities buildings that uyou see as you leave the bridge
20 Alan's half Irish breakfast - we wondered what a full one would look like...
21-23 No 1 Pery Square - Georgian Townhouse and the Long Room restaurant - read about our meal at...
24 Townhouses in Pery Square