Medieval Castles & Historic Buildings: What To Do In Limerick, Ireland

Medieval Castles & Historic Buildings: What To Do In Limerick, Ireland

Limerick is located in the Mid-West region of Ireland and is home to the very historic and famous King’s Island. The city is the fourth-most populous city in Ireland. Limerick was often referred to as the most beautiful city in Ireland during the 16th and 17th centuries. In 2014, this city was named Ireland’s inaugural National City of Culture due to its wide variety of cultural events held throughout the year. Today, Limerick remains a beautiful Irish city that is filled with gorgeous riverside walks and a bustling culinary scene, as well as being home to some of Ireland’s most beautiful medieval castles and historical buildings. Here we have 8 reasons why you should visit this city, and all the things you shouldn’t miss out on during your stay!

1. Visit Limerick’s most iconic landmark, King John’s Castle

This 13th-century castle is one of Ireland’s most iconic landmarks and it sits on King’s Island, right next to the River Shannon from where the best and most picturesque views of the castle can be enjoyed. The site itself dates back to when the Vikings were living on the island, back in 922. The castle was built on the orders of King John in 1200. King John’s Castle is also considered as one of the best-preserved Norman castles in Europe, with initial structures, such as the walls and towers, still remaining today. The castle, which as completed in 1210, is situated on the boundary of the River Shannon, with the aim of protecting the city from the Gaelic kingdoms. This played a part in Limerick prospering into both a port and a trading centre. The castle underwent a major redevelopment between 2011 and 2013 in order to improve its visitor facilities. With these redevelopments, the castle became more modernised, with the addition of interactive exhibitions and a cafe that offers brilliant views of the courtyard and the river.

King John’s Castle is definitely a site not to be missed when you’re in Limerick, especially with it exuding so much culture, history, and charm. The castle also holds interesting events occasionally!

King John's Castle

Address: Nicholas St, Limerick, Ireland

Price: Adult 11 USD; Child 5.80 USD

Opening Hours: 9.30 am - 4.30 pm

Website: King John’s Castle

2. Shop for fresh produce at Limerick’s famous Milk Market

Limerick Milk Market is located on Mungret Street and it sells a wide variety of products, despite its name. People swarm to the market to get their hands on local and fresh produce. In this market, you will find local produce such as chutneys, cheeses, fresh fish, artisan meats, organic fruits and vegetables, fresh juice, and more. They also sell ready-to-eat items, such as gourmet sandwiches, wraps, and pastries, that you can savour while you’re roaming around the market.

Limerick Market is said to be a combination of various markets that, in the 19th century, were located all around the city. It was then that The Limerick Market Trustees were established, relocating all the various markets to with the original. The Trustees was the longest receivership period in Irish history and, following that, the Milk Market underwent renovations, which led to its reopening in 1995. The renovation project also won a European Heritage Award.

Limerick Milk Market

Address: Market House The Milk Market, Mungret Street, Limerick City

Opening Hours: Fridays - Sundays

Contact: 061 214782

Website: Limerick Milk Market

3. Discover Lough Gur, one of Ireland’s most important archaeological sites

Lough Gur is actually a lake located in County Limerick, and it is situated between the two towns of Herberstown and Bruff. The lake is referred to as one of Ireland’s most important archaeological sites. It is said that there were people living near the site from as early as 3000 BC. There have also been many megalithic remains found there. Visitors to Lough Gur can expect to see the Lough Gur Stone Circle, one of the oldest and largest stone circles in Ireland and Western Europe. This circle, which is made from standing stones, can be seen from the R512 between Grange and Bruff. This circle has apparently attracted all kinds of tourists, including spiritualists, that come every Midsummer’s Eve for festivals and feasting and to observe the sunrise through the passageway.

Apart from that, Lough Gur still contains the original stone forts, the megalithic tomb, and the New Christian Church. Lough Gur is also located near other attractions and cities, such as the medieval city of Killmallock, Bruree, where the first president of Ireland, Dr Eamonn DeValera, was born, and the Ballyhoura Mountains. There are no admission fees for Lough Gur and it is open all year round.

Lough Gur

Address: Lough Gur, Co. Limerick

Price: Free

Opening Hours: 24/7, 365 days of the year

Website: Lough Gur

4. Explore Adare, Ireland’s prettiest village

Adare is a village in County Limerick and its name means “ford of the oak” in Irish. Located 16 kilometres (9.9 miles) away from Limerick City, this village was designated as a Heritage Town by the Irish government and is known as one of the country’s prettiest villages. The village consists of houses designed with heavy influences of the Irish architecture and English-style buildings. This can be observed with the handful of cottages that were built in the 1820s by Lord Dunraven near the entrance of the main street. Some of the cottages now serve as restaurants, fashion boutiques, and art shops. Also on Adare’s main street, you can find gorgeous stone buildings, medieval monasteries and ruins, and a beautiful village park.

There is also Desmond Castle, which has been around since the 13th century. The castle was owned by the Earls of Kildare until the rebellion in 1536, when the Earls of Desmond took ownership and gave the castle its present name.

Holy Trinity Abbey is a Roman Catholic Church located next to the Adare Heritage Centre. It was built by the Fitzgerald clan in the early 13th century. The monastery, which was initially called The Trinitarian Priory, was built with the aim of raising ransom money to rescue the Christians that were held captive by the Moors during the Crusade Wars. During the reign of King Henry VIII, the monastery became badly damaged and only got repaired in the 19th century. Other attractions include St. Nicholas Old Graveyard and The Augustinian Priory.


Website: Adare

5. Enjoy the medieval town of Kilmallock

Located in the southern region of County Limerick, Kilmallock is a town that is known for its medieval walls that once encircled the settlement. This little town is rich in history, and it played a huge part in the history of Ireland. During the medieval period, it was ranked as one of the main urban areas in Ireland. Additionally, Kilmallock’s position is such that it became a target during wars. For example, in 1571, during the Desmond Rebellions, the town was burned by the Earl of Desmond. Then, during the 1648 Irish Confederate Wars, the Dominican Priory of Kilmallock was destroyed by an army under Lord Inchiquin. Its ruins are today known as the best historical landmark of Kilmallock. There is also a museum located in the town where the history of Kilmallock can be learnt.

Apart from the historic buildings, Kilmallock also offers shopping facilities, pubs, and restaurants.


Website: Kilmallock

6. Marvel at internationally-famous art pieces at the Hunt Museum

Limerick (Co. Limerick), Hunt Museum (1)
Source: Photo by user GilPe used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The Hunt Museum got its name from the Hunt family, who donated a personal collection to the museum. It is said that John and Gertrude Hunt were antique dealers and their collection of antiques got so huge that they started to search for a permanent home for their collection. During their search they came across Professor Patrick Doran, Professor of the University of Limerick, which was at that time called the National Institute of Higher Education, and Dr Edward Walsh, the president of the institute. They agreed to temporarily house part of the collection. The Hunt Museum was then opened in 1978, at the institute itself, in an exhibition room. After many political troubles with ownership of the antiques, the museum was finally opened in 1997. Unfortunately, Gertrude and John Hunt weren’t still alive to witness the celebratory moment. Today, the museum serves as a monument to remember their enthusiasm and generosity.

The museum’s initial location was in the University of Limerick, and it was moved to its current grounds in the Georgian Custom House in 1997. The Custom House is an 18th-century building with an exterior design containing limestone, which was very different to the usual red brick of other Georgian buildings. Situated on the banks of the River Shannon, this museum houses works by notable artists and designers such as Picasso, Jack B. Yeats, Sybil Connolly, and more. The museum also has around 2,500 artefacts, both local and international, with one of its oldest artefacts being from ancient Egypt.

Hunt Museum

Address: Rutland St, Limerick, Ireland

Opening Hours: 10 am - 5 pm

Contact: +353 61 312 833

Website: Hunt Museum

So much to see in Ireland's National City of Culture

This riverside city exudes a character like no other city in Ireland. With its variety of contrasts, it has perfected the blend of modern and historic culture, with its many cultural attractions and gorgeous historical towns and buildings. In the night, Limerick’s pubs, restaurants, and discos shine. It is also located between two of Ireland’s major destinations, Cork and Galway, making it a must-visit when you’re in the area.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Aisyah is obsessed with the written word. She just loves reading and writing. It’s almost as if that’s her daily mantra. When not writing, she can be found watching Netflix with her three cats at...Read more

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