Named after the villainous king from Robin Hood, King John’s Castle is a 13th Century stronghold on King’s Island in the heart of medieval Limerick. One of the best-preserved Norman castles in Europe, its recent state-of-the-art upgrade introduced interactive activities and exhibitions, CGI animations and projections that really bring its story to life. It’s an immersive experience that captures the castle’s place in Limerick history, culture and everyday life.
There’s nothing like experiencing the “Munster roar” in Thomond Park and seeing the unique synergy between the Munster rugby team and the fans at a live game. Go one better with a behind the scenes Thomond Park tour and access places normally reserved for players and coaches. You can also relive Munster’s finest moments in the interactive Thomond Park Museum, from beating the All-Blacks in 1978 to the “miracle match” in the 2003 Heineken Cup.
In the heart of Limerick on the banks of the Shannon, the Hunt Museum’s eclectic collections reflect the diverse interests of its founders, John and Gertrude Hunt. You’ll be treated to artefacts from ancient Greece and Rome, art by modern masters like Jack B Yeats, Pablo Picasso and Henry Moore, and important Irish relics from Neolithic tools to the famous Antrim Cross. Afterwards, visit the restaurant and enjoy fantastic views of the river to complement some great food.
Founded in 1168 on the site of a palace donated by the King of Munster, Donal Mor O’Brien, St. Mary’s Cathedral is part of the fabric of Limerick life. Tradition says that the West Door was once part of that ancient palace and this gorgeous building is full of stunning architectural features. Free lunchtime and evening performances are enhanced by the unique charms of the extraordinary venue.
Craft beer fans love Treaty City Brewery on Nicholas Street where you can learn about Limerick’s rich brewing tradition and sample their range of themed beers. This microbrewery is where new beers are developed using local ingredients. It’s a real taste of Limerick, from the beer right down to the local artefacts in the previously derelict buildings that now house the artisan brewery.
Ireland’s oldest weekly market, The Milk Market is an enduring Limerick institution where you can pick up the best artisan food or fresh family essentials, each weekend. You’ll see traditional fare like crubeens alongside fresh seafood and homemade sauces as you soak up the buzz and chatter you’d expect from a working market.
The Friday Flea throws up some unexpected surprises and vintage finds, while the Saturday Food Market is a foodie’s dream. Sunday’s Variety Market has everything from antiques to food and locally produced arts and crafts.
A visit to Foynes Flying Boat & Maritime Museum, just a short spin from the city, transports you back to the thirties and forties, when Foynes was a vital hub in the development of transatlantic passenger flight. The exhibitions, memorabilia and a life size replica of a Boeing 314 Flying Boat give you a real sense of those heady days.
It’s also where the first Irish coffee was served, a moment you can relive with an impressive 3D holographic show. No trip to Foynes would be complete without stopping at the Foynes Island Viewpoint, so make sure you have enough time to take it all in.
The stunning views and walks around Lough Gur are impressive enough but you’ll also find ancient burial mounds, megalithic tombs, forts and standing stones scattered around this mysterious landscape.
The locals even claim that the King of the Fairies lives on the Hill of Knockadoon. Find out more about the ancient settlements, people and stories of this fascinating region at the crannog-shaped Lough Gur Visitor Centre.
The Ballyhoura Way is a 90km route that forms part of the famous O’Sullivan Beara Trail, the infamous route that Domhnall Cam Ó Súileabháin Bhéara and his entire clan used to flee their enemies after the Battle of Kinsale. Starting at Limerick Junction train station, the walk takes in Liscarroll Castle and there’s even a donkey sanctuary on the way, if you fancy a well-earned break.
For added excitement, try some off-road cycling on the Ballyhoura Mountain Bike Trail Network. From testing forest road climbs to boardwalk sections, there are five loops to choose from depending on how adventurous you’re feeling.
With 313 hectares of woodland, rolling parkland and lakes, the vast Curraghchase Forest Park estate was once home to author and poet Sir Aubrey de Vere. The estate now includes several areas of conservation with rare wildlife like the lesser horseshoe bat and the hawfinch.
The estate’s 8km of sign-posted trails really show off the area’s natural beauty and the children’s playground, picnic areas and barbecue facilities make it a great place to bring the family.
Just a half hour from Limerick City, the heritage town of Adare on the banks of the River Maigue is a required stop on any tour of Limerick. It’s a postcard perfect village that has no shortage of attractions.
There’s the 19th Century Adare Manor, the gorgeous thatched cottages that once housed the manor’s workers, the ruins of three ancient monasteries, the impressive Adare Heritage Centre, a celebrated golf course and a 2km riverbank walk that takes in some of its best historic buildings. As if all that wasn’t enough, it’s also known as “Ireland’s prettiest village.”
With many more than 11 things to do in County Limerick, you could easily extend your short break. From vibrant Limerick City to the nearby traditional towns, visit our Limerick destination page and discover the treasures of the Treaty County.