King John’s Castle in Limerick in Ireland is one of the best preserved Norman castles in Europe. It is situated on the banks of the River Shannon a short walk from the centre of Limerick.
The attraction is designed to engage visitors in multiple ways. Audio visual elements mix with tactile displays and original historical artifacts. Besides that, it is just damned fun to be inside a castle! Here are some reasons to visit.
As King John’s Castle is on a hill overlooking the River Shannon, the views are mighty. When you climb up inside the towers and reach the top, the reward is sweeping views of Limerick.
Of course it can rain in the west of Ireland at any time so I would recommend a raincoat or umbrella. It will not detract from enjoying all the castle has to offer.
A Little Exercise
Climbing up the towers is not for the faint of heart as inside there are spiral staircases which require careful negotiation. The good thing is there aren’t too many stairs so anyone should be able to do it.
You also go underneath the buildings at one point to see some of the original stonework. Not only does it keep you dry, but you get a real sense of history when you do this.
Some of the rooms have been furnished to represent how they would have appeared when used by historical figures. All I could think about is how cold it must have been inside the building.
Other rooms in King John’s Castle have equipment to represent blacksmiths or stone masons places of work. Care is taken to keep things as real as possible.
There are also a few people scattered around in historical costume who are available to answer your questions. I found them all hiding from the rain under an awning in the courtyard as it was quite wet!
Meet King John’s People
Many of the rooms have people you can interact with. You need to press a button or pick up a purse in order to start the person talking to you. It is quite effective.
Unfortunately one or two of these are out of service at present which is a bit of a shame. Despite this the vast majority work just fine so you won’t miss too much.
Great Grounds and Informative Displays
When you first arrive, you go through a very extensive run through on Irish history with emphasis on Limerick and King John’s Castle. Many of the displays contain historical finds under glass.
There are two or three video presentations, audio only presentations and various things aimed specifically for children. There is plenty to do for people of all ages.
Right next to King John’s Castle are the Widow’s Alms Houses which reportedly date back to 1691. I don’t believe you can go inside but they’re worth a peek at from the outside.
Saint Mary’s Cathedral dates from 1168 and is the oldest building in Limerick still in daily use. It is on the way to the castle, around 5 minutes walk away, so it makes sense to visit here also.
Limerick is a vibrant city in Ireland which is bidding to be the European Capital of Culture for 2020. There is signage for this everywhere in the city so hopefully it will be successful in its bid. With world class tourist attractions such as King John’s Castle, it has a good chance of success.
Thank you for reading and if you have any comments or questions, please leave them below.