Chasing Blue Skies in Co. Limerick
I’m spending quite a bit of time on the road at the moment and I have to confess, the rain clouds are following me everywhere. Floods, snow showers, torrential rain and sleet. I spend half my time searching for little patches of blue sky so I might get out of my car without getting drenched.
Last week was no exception. The drive down the M7 towards Limerick was uneventful and wet, but as soon as I crossed over into Co. Tipperary the sun beamed out from behind the clouds, lighting up the lush green hills. The scenery changed dramatically from the flatlands of the midlands to hills, valleys and lakes of Tipperary and Limerick.
County Limerick is not an obvious tourist destination and to be honest, it’s at an immediate disadvantage with the bordering counties – Kerry, Cork and Clare, being the most popular for tourism in Ireland. Visitors whiz through Limerick enroute to the Ring of Kerry, Cliffs of Moher or the Beara Peninsula. I guess Limerick might feel like the ugly sister, overlooked and underestimated.
However, I was pleasantly surprised with what Limerick had to offer; speed boats up the Shannon Estuary, a walk around the sparkling and archaeological gem, Lough Gur, and a city with some great museums, restaurants and a farmer’s market to be proud of. As with all ugly sisters, when removed from the shadows, they shine in their own right.
It was also on this trip that I realised, I can chase the blue skies as much as I want, but ultimately the rain will fall, the wind will howl and the sun will shine, even for a moment, making it all the more special.
This morning, Wednesday 6th February, I chatted about things to do in Co. Limerick on Ireland AM at 9.05AM.WATCH SLOT HERE. All information from the slot is below!
While Limerick may be often overlooked as a tourist destination, with visitors making their way to the bordering counties, Limerick has plenty to offer, from boat trips along the Shannon, walks around the historical Lough Gur, sports events at Thomond Park and shopping and culture in the city of Limerick.
Limerick’s title as European City of Sport in 2011 drew crowds to Limerick city for an array of sporting events and the impressive Thomond Park continues to draw Munster rugby fans. The recently refurbished stadium is the home ground to the Munster rugby team, while also hosting some major music events such as Bruce Springstein this July. Munster will be playing the Ospreys on 2 March and fans will be making their way to Limerick City to support the team. If you miss the match, you can do a guided tour of the stadium and learn the history of the stadium and Munster team.
Tour Tickets: Family Packages from €30.00 to include (2 adults & 2 children)
Match tickets: From €20
Culture in Limerick
The old Custom House, sitting on the edge of the Shannon, now houses a collection of over 2000 pieces once belonging to antique dealer, John Hunt. Spread over three floors, there are plenty of surprises throughout, from Picasso and Renoir paintings hidden in drawers to Bronze Age cauldrons and Viking ice-skates. A beautiful museum, with an eclectic collection of antiques and lovely riverside café.
Tickets: Family Ticket – €12/Adult €5
The Frank McCourt Museum is located in the old school of the acclaimed writer, Frank McCourt. This quirky museum has dedicated two rooms in the old schoolhouse, replicating Frank’s childhood home and illustrating the poverty Frank and his family lived in during the 1930’s in Limerick. Downstairs, the former classrooms hold an array of Frank’s belongings, donated to the museum by his wife, and upstairs the film Anglea’s Ashes is played once a day from 2pm – 4pm.
Tickets: €3 per person
Across the road, on Pery Square, nestled on the edge of the attractive People’s Park is the Limerick City Gallery of Art, which holds contemporary exhibitions and has a great café. Free Entry
King John’s Castle
Under refurbishment until June 2013
Where to Eat
We had dinner at the sleek Cornstore Restaurant on Thomas Street and the night started with a cocktail at the bar. We settled into the seats and I loved what I saw. Twinkling candles, dark and luxurious upholstery, leather booths and a buzzy atmosphere. We’d overdosed on scones at the hotel, so we shared a starter of chicken wings, which were spicy and delicious and the perfect amount for two. Our mains were Crispy Duck Confit which was tasty and comforting food for a cold, winter’s evening, while the pork belly was good, however much to my delight, not as good as mine according to my lovely man. Although, he has to say that doesn’t he? All in all, the atmosphere was warm, service excellent, friendly staff and good food. I’d definitely return and I’d say if you’re in Limerick for the night, book in and enjoy.
There’s a good collection of restaurants in the city, but if you happen to be there over a weekend – Friday – Sunday, you can’t miss Ireland’s largest farmer’s market – Limerick Milk Market. With over a hundred producers at the market you can gorge on everything from local cheeses and meats to freshly roasted coffee and home-made cakes.
Drive to Adare for lunch in one of the many restaurants – Wild Geese, Blue Door, or treat yourself to afternoon tea at Adare Manor.
History buffs will love the guided tours led by local historians who offer a great mix of history, mythology and fun. Our guide was the very knowledgable, Michael Quinlan, who was able to fill us in on not only the history of the area, but the myths and legends attached to the area. As it was damp (i.e. freezing cold and lashing rain) we drove from one spot to the next, however, in finer weather they run guided walking tours or you can even do the tour on a bicycle, which I think I would love! Families can walk the lake’s shore, have a picnic or go canoeing during the summer months. The visitor centre will be open in May this year and will have a little cafe, maps with walking trails and lots of information on the area.
Shannon Estuary Boat Trips and Lough Derg
Take a wildlife, scenic or heritage trip along the Shannon estuary, visiting the historical Scattery Island and travelling along the rugged Clare coastline. Alternatively, only a 15-minute drive from Limerick city, Lough Derg offers plenty of water-sports for all ages.
Tickets: €12.50 per adult/€7.50 per child/€35 Family
One Pery Square – Located in the Georgian quarter of the city, overlooking People’s park, this beautiful Georgian hotel has oodles of character. Classed as a boutique hotel, it is small and intimate, with a cosy bar area, a drawing room on the second floor where you can retire with a good book and enjoy the old worldly feel. Our room was compact, with a spacious bathroom and lovely decor. They’ve managed to put a modern twist on an otherwise old building and have included a lovely spa where you can escape from it all. Rooms from €135 B&B including access to the spa.
Special Offer: George Boutique Hotel for 2 people to include B&B, 2 course dinner, bottle of wine & late check out until 1pm all for total cost of €99 – http://www.tv3.ie/breaks