When it comes to a couple’s getaway weekend, Limerick has the edge on other cities with authentic Georgian properties, bespoke design boutique hotels and opulence overload palaces.
No.1 Pery Square Hotel & Spa is a hideaway retreat near People’s Park, while the sleek Absolute Hotel is close to atmospheric George’s Quay. The Savoy and Bedford Townhouse are luxurious havens in the heart of the city and for a top table experience, head to Adare Manor, 20 minutes from the city centre, for the ultimate indulgence.
An early evening stroll, just as the sun lies low and lights flicker across the Shannon, is the best way to get an overview of this city of churches and Georgian splendour.
Take the Three Bridges Walking Route that gives sweeping views of medieval King John’s Castle, Saint Mary’s Cathedral and the city’s bold, modern architecture that rests easily against a quintessential Georgian backdrop. Along the way, stop by Curragower Pub and Restaurant, for gourmet Irish fare and panoramic views across the river.
After a city centre breakfast at the Buttery or Bedford Café, head straight to Limerick’s internationally renowned Milk Market to check out the farm to stall offerings. It’s a highlight in the city’s weekly diary, so browsers and shoppers use it as an opportunity to meet and socialise.
Follow the narrow lanes that lead to pedestrianised Cruise’s Street, passing bakeries for a sweet distraction, before entering Limerick’s main shopping thoroughfare.
Department store Brown Thomas, O’Mahony’s Bookstore, the boutiques along Roches Street and Catherine Street or landmark menswear Billy Higgins can while away a few hours, before taking a well-deserved gourmet lunch break at Mortell’s or a flavour of Italy at the intimate Olio e Farina, tucked into Little Catherine Street.
Limerick’s oldest shop, housed in the old tobacco and snuff factory on Wickham Street, Cahill’s Tea, is a city landmark. It stocks tea from across the world with flavours from gunpowder black tea, Moroccan mint, and pina cola fruit tea.
The winding streets of Limerick Medieval Quarter take visitors back at a slow and gentle pace to the city’s origins. Saint Mary’s Cathedral, with its famous belfry, intricately carved misericords and mesmerising stained glass windows, create a unique, hushed space that spans back centuries.
The oak and limestone west entrance is one of the most photographed doorways in Ireland – and the portal of many special occasions through the last millennium. Part of the ancient city walls still stand in this area and are worth the short detour.
Visitors amble along Nicolas Street to the neat row of 17th Century widow’s Almshouse located by the city’s most iconic building, King John’s Castle. The breathtaking river views from the battlements have captured the hearts and lens of visitors for years, and offer a vantage point to the dramatic siege of Limerick. Irish Earls assembled here before they spread their wings in exile to locations throughout the globe.
They signed an agreement by the Treaty Stone across the river (which coined the city’s nickname, The Treaty City), in a spurious deal to protect Catholics. Across the cobbled lane is Treaty City Brewery, Limerick’s craft beer microbrewery. Facing the castle is a stunning mural of rock star Limerick woman, Dolores O’Riordan, lead singer of the Cranberries, and to round off the afternoon, drop by The Hunt Museum to linger over its collection of fine art and artefacts.
Start the evening with a unique whiskey tasting experience at Michael Flannery’s traditional Irish bar, home to one of the largest Irish whiskey collections in the country. Then ramble down to George’s Quay, a riverside setting illuminated with tree lights and the glow of the Saint Mary’s Cathedral for an alfresco glass of locally crafted brew before choosing any of Limerick’s fine dining for an intimate end to the evening.
Remain at the Locke Bar and Restaurant on George’s Quay for a romantic setting or stroll into the city centre for Oysters and champagne or a hearty grill at Alex Findlater & Co or the contemporary fare and setting at Hamptons Grill. For a very special occasion, head to Adare Manor’s Michelin starred Oak Room for an unforgettable out of town dining experience. Dolan’s Warehouse is the best place to round off the evening.
Saint Mary’s Cathedral Bells coax sleepy visitors out of comfortable quarters on a midmorning Sunday to explore the greater area. Just 20 minutes away by bus or car is Adare Village, with its thatched roof cottages and old world charm, is the place to stop by for a country riverside walk past a medieval monastery in the shadow of the glorious Adare Manor. The team at 1826 serve local, indigenous produce, cooked with flair in the charming, rustic cottage setting – that’s Sunday lunch sorted at its best.
Twenty minutes west of Limerick City by bus or car is Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. Ramble around the cottages and farm houses, some of which were transported brick by brick from Limerick’s Golden Vale, County Clare or – even an old ice-cream dairy farm and parochial church arrived intact to the park. The medieval castle, with its great hall, murder hole and high battlements at the top of a narrow, winding staircase, purpose built 19th century folk village and collection of animals make it an unforgettable Sunday afternoon experience.
Limerick’s Pub scene is one of the best in Ireland. Rugby Pubs, old timer’s pubs, slick cocktail bars and rooftop terraces are just some of the ways to wind down the weekend in style. Tom Collin’s or Fennessey’s Pub offer a quiet refuge, or step back in time at JJ Bowles or Katie Daly’s Heritage Pub in the Medieval Quarter. Stop by South’s Pub to discover where Frank McCourt’s father, Malachy, drank away the family’s silver. For a gourmet pub meal – Bobby Byrnes Gastro Pub offers delicious fare with a perfectly sculpted Guinness or craft beer.
Limerick is first and foremost, a rugby city. Giant Thomond Park demands attention across the skyline of the city, and is only a 10 minute walk from the city centre.
Visitors can relive that unforgettable day in October 1978 when Munster defeated the famous All Blacks on site – and discover the other highlights of Limerick’s rugby culture at Munster’s home ground at the stadium’s museum.
A tour of the pitch is available on non-match days. The city centre Hook and Ladder is the place to leave a lasting good taste of the Treaty City.