New era dawns for historic King John’s Castle as international consultants appointed to devise masterplan

  • Pictured at King John's Caste are Gordon Daly, Director of Economic Development and Tourism, Limerick City and County Council, Tim O’Connor, Interim Chairperson of Discover Limerick DAC, Anne Marie Galmstrup, Director of Galmstrup Architects, Kieran O’ Donnell TD, Minister of State with Responsibility for Local Government and Planning, Cllr Gerald Mitchell, Mayor of the City and County of Limerick. Photo: Arthur Ellis

Another new chapter is set to be written for Limerick’s most storied building, King John’s Castle, with international design consultants appointed to prepare a Masterplan that will guide the transformation of the iconic 13th century castle into a world-class visitor attraction.

A multi-disciplinary Design Team headed up by international design practice Galmstrup Architects has been appointed to create a roadmap for maximising the potential of one of Ireland’s foremost cultural and heritage sites.

The King John’s Castle Masterplan, which is funded by Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, is the latest initiative by the wholly owned Limerick City and County Council subsidiary, Discover Limerick Development Activity Company (DAC), which was launched two years ago by the local authority to maximise key tourism attractions and grow visitor numbers in the county. The consultants have been appointed following a public procurement competition conducted through the course of 2023. 

The masterplan will be expected to identify opportunity for investment in an exciting and innovative visitor offering for the Castle that takes a holistic approach to the city-wide and site-wide components of the visitor experience, increasing the value of the castle as a visitor attraction that delivers sustainable socio-economic benefits for the city and region.

King John’s Castle is an Anglo-Norman castle on the east bank of the Shannon. Originally constructed as a military fortification, the Castle has undergone several sieges, battles and triumphs across its 800year history. The complex now comprises the 13th-century courtyard castle, the modernist Visitor Centre building and the later Castle Lane Interpretative Centre building (1998). The castle is open to the public 362 days of the year and welcomes in excess of 100,000 visitors annually.

Welcoming the appointment, Mayor of the City and County of Limerick Cllr Gerald Mitchell said,

“King John’s Castle has been the jewel in the crown of Limerick in so many respects dating back to the 13the century. It was the fortress on which so much of our proud Limerick history pivots but what we are now embarking on is turning this incredible opportunity we have here on the banks of the Shannon into a truly world-class visitor attraction for the future.” 

Minister of State with Responsibility for Local Government and Planning Kieran O’Donnell TD said,

“King John’s Castle is one of the finest Irish castles with a rich history and sits on the banks of our majestic and internationally renowned River Shannon. That’s an unrivalled mix and I am delighted as Minister for Local Government and, indeed, as a TD for Limerick City to have secured €2.264m in funding from my Department for the Castle’s further development as a key tourist attraction in the region in November 2023.

“This crucial funding will support the development of the King John’s Castle Masterplan announced today which is very welcome and is another milestone step in its history. I look forward to the outcome of the Masterplan, seeing the enhanced tourism offering that it will deliver for King John’s Castle, Limerick City and the region, with our iconic castle being at the forefront of city attractions not just in Ireland but across Europe and worldwide.”

Dr Pat Daly, Chief Executive of Limerick City and County Council said,

“We established Discover Limerick DAC to grow Limerick’s status as a leading Irish tourism destination and, in doing so, contribute to the region’s economic growth. This masterplan is early evidence of that at work as it will set out a roadmap for creating a world-class visitor attraction here in Limerick.” 

Anne Marie Galmstrup, a Director with Galmstrup Architects, said, “We are delighted to get the opportunity to develop this masterplan for King John’s Castle. We’ve spent decades specialising in cultural and community projects internationally and King John’s Castle is right up there in terms of its historical and architectural importance and then it’s location on the banks of such a majestic Irish river adds another special layer of interest to the project.”

Tim O’Connor, Interim Chairperson of Discover Limerick DAC said,

“Limerick has such a proud history and King John’s Castle is the ultimate emblem of that. That history, together with its incredible architecture and location here on the banks of the Shannon, means we have a tourism product here of enormous potential. It’s one that we have yet to truly make the most of and that’s what this masterplan is going to address, in a way that will significantly increase visitor numbers from the 100,000 per annum today and be a significant driver of our economy. We thank Minister O’ Donnell and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage for giving us the funding to take this vital step on a journey to realising this immense opportunity for Limerick.” 

Gordon Daly, Director of Economic Development and Tourism with responsibility for Discover Limerick DAC said,

“Discover Limerick DAC has huge ambition for the sites we have under our remit and they don’t come bigger or better than King John’s Castle. We have an opportunity here to do something completely unique with this incredible building and in Galmstrup Architects we’ve brought on board international experts to guide us in this.” 

Pictured at King John's Caste are Gordon Daly, Director of Economic Development and Tourism with responsibility for Discover Limerick DAC, Limerick City and County Council, Tim O’Connor, Interim Chairperson of Discover Limerick DAC, Anne Marie Galmstrup, Director of Galmstrup Architects, Kieran O’ Donnell TD, Minister of State with Responsibility for Local Government and Planning, Cllr Gerald Mitchell, Mayor of the City and County of Limerick. Photo: Arthur Ellis
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