Limerick has a picturesque location on the River Shannon, roughly halfway between Cork and Galway. It is still an underrated travel destination, often overlooked by the millions of tourists who spend their Ireland holidays in well-known spots like Dublin and Killarney.
Limerick was originally conquered by the Vikings in the 10th century, and was established as an early base for the Christian church. Several structures, including St Mary's Cathedral and the Trinitarian Abbey in the Medieval Heritage Precinct, date back as far as the 12th century. King John's Castle and Cathedral are also popular sights, as is the Treaty Stone on Thomond Bridge, commemorating a peace agreement between William of Orange and the Jacobites in 1691.
Limerick endured much economic hardship in the 20th century, and though gleaming buildings are added to the skyline every few years, the city has difficulty removing itself from the images of crime and poverty associated with Frank McCourt's best-selling novel . Even today, the crime rate in Limerick is higher than most other Irish cities.
Even through these hardships, Limerick is a lively city with a serious love of both sport and the arts. Visitors can catch a Munster Rugby match at Thomond Park, then eat and drink at any of the city's dozens of restaurants, bars and pubs. On weekends, the Milk Market and Potato Market offer the chance to buy just about anything from books and antiques, to local arts, crafts and fresh food.
In contrast with the city, the surrounding Limerick County is a rolling landscape of pretty farmland, with the winding River Shannon curling around picture-perfect villages like Adare and the seaside resort of Kilkee.