IPA Regions

22. LIMERICK

DESMOND REGION

Chairman:
Secretary: Mick Riordan

The Desmond Region consists of the ancient kingdoms of North Munster and South Munster and North Tipperary part of the Golden Vale. The Region straddles the longest river in Ireland, the 260Km Shannon, hence the title "Shannonside". The river is navigable from Limerick City to the Erne lakes in Northern Ireland broadens out to three large lakes on its way from the hills of Cavan to the Atlantic Ocean in mid-western Ireland, between Clare, Kerry and Limerick counties. Remains of Megalithic man dating back to 3,500 BC testifies to the antiquity of the region. Lough Gur's stone circles, forts and lakeside dwellings are the most complete Stone and Bronze Ages sites in North Western Europe that attract vast numbers of visitors to its Visitors' Centre from May to September.

With the advent of Christianity, heralded by St Patrick in 432, monasteries sprang up in places like Ardpatrick, Mungret, Adare and Killeedy contributing to the reputation of Ireland as being The Island of Saints and Scholars. The discovery of the Ardagh Chalice in west Limerick, on display in Trinity College, Dublin, is the finest example of gold, silver and gilt bronze craftsmanship from the 1st Millennium AD.Limerick City was founded by the Viking invaders who occupied the Shannon Estuary from 922 until driven out at the battle of Clontarf in 1014 by King Brian Boru. They raided many of the monasteries in Limerick and Clare for booty to fill their long ships sailing back to Scandinavia. Their cousins, the Normans, invited by a king having marital problems and stayed until 1922. King John of England, the Wisest Fool in Christendom, ordered the erection of a fortress in Limerick in 1194 that still stands and is a major tourist attraction today. He granted a Royal Charter to Limerick City that predates London's Charter. More castles were built in Limerick County than in any other County in Ireland on lands confiscated from native royalty and peasantry; several are used as hotels and museums today.

King John's castle withstood sieges by Oliver Cromwell in 1690 and by King William of Orange at the termination of his war against King James in 1691. The valour of the women of Limerick defending the castle during the sieges is legendary. The Treaty, agreed by the Generals ending the siege, saw several ships laden with thousands of defeated Irish sailing for the Continent and fighting the wars of France, Germany and Austria. Their leader, General Patrick Sarsfield, died on the fields of Landen and at least two became Marshals of France.

The Penal Laws were re-imposed with more ferocity than ever when the English Parliament refuted the Treaty and Limerick became known as "The City of the Broken Treaty". The Castle is now fully restored and used as a museum. The great house owned by the poet Aubrey De Vere standing on 600 acres of Curraghchase Forest Park and Lake, near the picturesque town of Adare, was burned down in 1941 and is now a restful haven for ramblers and nature lovers. The first flying boats from US landed at Foynes on the Shannon Estuary in 1937 but the first passenger service was not until 1939. The last flying boat left Foynes in October, 1945. Always a centre of learning, Limerick has a modern University and a major Teachers' Training College, a widely recognised Technological Park, seventeen 2nd level schools, an Arts Centre, three museums and the famous Thomond Park, the home of Rugby Football. There are two major hospitals, a gaol and the Garda Divisional Headquarters for the city and county. There are several major golf clubs dotted all over the county.

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