Limerick

After saying so much about the horse-fair, perhaps it might be as well to say something about Limerick itself. Limerick has had quite a past, and there has been "a hot time in the old town" about as often as in any other city that can be pointed out. It is situated in a broad plain, watered by the Shannon, and backed up in the distance by the hills of Clare and Killaloe. The river, which soon becomes an estuary, rolls in a magnificent and broad stream through the heart of the town, and sends off a considerable branch called the Abbey River. This branch, rejoining the Shannon farther north, encloses what is known as the King's Island, on the southern portion of which is built the English Town, united to the mainland by three bridges, and containing the most ancient buildings. In contradistinction is the Irish Town, which lies to the south of it and more in the direction of the railway station. These two districts comprised the fortified old town. Up to Edward II.'s time only the English Town had been defended by walls and towers, but these were subsequently extended so as to include Irish Town, which was entered by St. John's Gate. The eastern portion of the walls, in parts forty feet high, is still fairly preserved.

Newtown Pery, the district between this and the river, was then bare, but having come into the possession of the Pery family (Earls of Limerick), it was specially built upon, and is now equal to any city in Ireland for the breadth and cleanliness of its streets. Of these the principal is George's Street, a handsome thoroughfare of nearly a mile in length, giving off others on each side at right angles, with a statue of O'Connell, by Hogan, erected in 1857, at the south end of it in Richmond Place. There is also, to the north, a monument to the memory of Lord Monteagle.

The name "Limerick" is derived from the Irish Luimneach, the name of a portion of the Shannon, by the corruption of n to r. Like most of the Irish seaports, it was founded in the ninth century by the Danes, who were subdued by Brian Boru when he assumed the sovereignty over Munster, and Limerick thus became the royal city of the Munster kings. After passing through the usual stages of intestine native war, its next important epoch was marked by the erection of a strong fortress by King John, who committed the care of it to the charge of William de Burgh. Bruce took it in 1316, and remained there for some months. From that time, with a few intervals of check, it steadily gained in importance until the reign of Elizabeth, when it was made the centre of civil and military administration. In 1641 it held out for some time against the Irish, but was taken by them. It was defended in 1651 by Hugh O'Neill against Ireton, during a six months' siege. Here, next year, Ireton died of the plague.

Read "On an Irish Jaunting Car through Donegal and Connemara" at your leisure

On an Irish jaunting Car through Donegal and Connemara

Read On an Irish jaunting Car through Donegal and Connemara at your leisure and help support this free Irish library.

Samuel Gamble Bayne was born in Ramelton, County Donegal, and educated at Queen's University in Belfast. At the age of twenty-five he left for America with a view to making his fortune. He invested in an oil well in Pennsylvania and later founded a bank which subsequently came to be the JP Morgan Chase bank in New York. By the time this book was written he was wealthy enough to be referred to as a billionaire. His account of the tour through the north, west and south of Ireland is a pleasant snapshot of how that part of the country was in the early part of the 20th century. He describes what is to be seen, gives some background history and, through the illustrations especially, provides wonderful glimpses of the area's social history.

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