King John's Castle - Limerick
King John's Castle is an impressive structure that dominates the landscape in the centre of Limerick town, it sits along the the banks of the River Shannon. This 13th century castle was constructed by King John of England between 1200 and 1210 during the first Norman conquest of Ireland. It illustrates a long and turbulent history that stretches over eight hundred years.
This magnificent castle served as a base from which to overpower the Gaelic Chieftains of the West. The castle was unusual in its design as it did not have a keep, it comprises of a solid curtain walls, a massive gate house, bold drum towers and a strong turreted gateway, it was a stronghold fortification and was still stands as a testament to its strength. Over its 800 year history it has been extended, partially destroyed and repaired again. Today it has been sympathetically restored and look much as it would have in the 13th century. Visitors should be sure to climb the battlements and take in the stunning panoramic views of the city, and the River Shannon.
There are friendly costumed guides who further demonstrate the history of the castle through working displays of weaponry, carpentry, masonry and coinage.
The area surrounding the castle is known as King's Island and is the oldest part of Limerick, its system of narrow, winding streets and alleyways are characteristic of its medieval town planning. This area of Limerick town as Englishtown was originally walled and was the administrative centre of the town in days gone past. Following excavations the pre-Norman houses and battlement walks are visible.
Outside in the courtyard visitors will come across a medieval campaign tent, a blacksmiths forge and scenes form a 17th century siege. Through sights, sounds and scenes the atmosphere of this bygone era is recreated.
There is a bright and modern Visitor Centre that serves to bring the incredible history and archaeology of the castle to life through state of the art interactive activities and exhibitions, with touch screen technology, 3D models, talking figures and discovery drawer being just some of the exciting techniques that associate visitors with tales of siege and war. Young visitors can dress up, build stone arches, fire mock cannons and do much more.
The restaurant visitors provides delicious snacks and refreshments where visitors can admire the fabulous views onto the castle courtyard and the Shannon river.
King John's Castle is open daily from 10.00 to 5.00pm.