Two Enjoyable Days in LimerickCulture, Cuisine
Drove into Limerick city on a Spring Wednesday with King John’s Castle as the main target! But, it being close to lunchtime when we arrived, Hook and Ladder in Sarsfield Street was our first call. It was busy, busy. But very good. Enjoyed a lively Salad Nicoise there and shared a scrumptious Strawberry and White Chocolate Meringue Roulade.
Finished off with a cup of Earl Grey and headed for the Castle. It is a great visit. Lot of info, presented in all kinds of ways and then of course there is the building itself - you can even get down underneath it. And the views from the top are magnificent. Lots of history here and you may check it all out on the website.
|Salad at Hook & Ladder|
Food is never far from my mind so I was surprised to read that it was the Normans who introduced the rabbit to the Irish diet and also spinach, fallow deer, frog and maybe even hedgehog!
Poachers were around then too, as you might expect. And so the Corporation controlled the highly profitable fisheries, including the salmon fishery at Corbally which was guarded by a watchtower to prevent illegal fishing.
|Beer with Coqbull burger|
Salmon or no salmon, the citizens of medieval Limerick ate well from the locality. Wild mushrooms, wild garlic, pork, bacon, beef, barley butter, eggs, cabbage, herring, hake, cod, eels and ling all featured. And it was washed down with ale. And with wine in the wealthier households.
For instance, one board records a master carpenter being paid 9 pence a day, enough to buy him six bottles of French wine. They don't say if the six came from the top shelf or the bottom!
Drove up along the city then to the striking modern building, the Clarion Hotel on Steamboat Quay, and checked in, having parked in a nearby high-rise car park. There are great views of the mighty River Shannon (Ireland's longest river) from many parts of this well-equipped hotel.
Food again took us into town in the evening. But the first call was for a drink, a great draught of Trouble Brewing’s Sabotage India Pale Ale. After that and a friendly chat in the Cornstore we strolled down the street (Thomas Street) to the lively Coqbull where the Bull (and the Chicken too) reign in burger heaven. My bun contained the Supreme Bull, slathered in Cashel Blue cheese, and all washed down with the Dark Arts Porter, another gem from the Trouble Brewing folk. The other drink we enjoyed was the Session Ale by Black’s of Kinsale.
|In City Gallery of Art|
No inclination for dessert here so back to the hotel bar which shares the space with their Kudo’s restaurant. We settled back into the comfortable seats with a couple of very familiar beers: Rebel Red Ale and Chieftan Pale Ale, both by Cork’s Franciscan Well Brewery and both on draught. Cheers until tomorrow!
Excellent choices at breakfast in the Clarion’s Synergie Restaurant this morning, the views over the river a bonus. Some lovely fruits on offer, including juicy melon. No big fry today for me, though the hot buffet was popular. Finished off with a cuppa and a couple of croissants.
First stop today was the Limerick City Gallery of Art in Pery Square and indeed inside the railings of the People’s Park. There were a couple of exhibitions winding down here but the big problem for this gallery is lack of space for its permanent collection. About 200 paintings, some of them highly rated, are squeezed, edge to edge, onto the available walls. You can't see the wood for the trees.
You may pick-up a photocopied list on the way in and use it as a guide. Evie Hone’s A Walk in the Woods at Marley, William Orpen’s Man of the West, and some works by Marie Jellett caught my eye and I also liked the series of industrial landscapes, including one of the local Dock Road (where the Clarion now is), by Dieter Blodau. And, for a food connection, see the fruit photo. There is also an exhibit of butter and briquette (bog butter?).
After a walk in and around the park, it was time for lunch and so we headed to the nearby Sage in Catherine Street. Very friendly service, efficient too, though it got a bit stretched as lunchtime peaked. The food was excellent here and I very much enjoyed my fish plate: steamed salmon and prawns and a selection of salads. We enjoyed a couple of cups of their excellent coffee.
|Hunt, by night|
Soon we were back on the street and heading down to the old custom house on Rutland Street where the Hunt Museum is situated. This is a private museum so, unlike the City Gallery, there is an entrance fee. But they usually have one free exhibition on and the current one is about 1916 and local involvement.
Quite a lot of letters and memorabilia highlighting the efforts for Ireland of John Daly, long before 1916, and of his nephew Edward who was one of the men shot immediately after the rising. John, who was Mayor of Limerick (he was dubbed the Fenian Mayor) and who had a bakery in the city, died a few months later.
Three floors lie at the heart of the main museum. We followed the suggested course and started in the First Floor which examines the development of decorative arts. Quite a few wine jugs on display, also a drinking horn, a huge salt cellar, a Japanese sweetmeat dish, an 18th spirit barrell along with punch and soup ladles. High art too and you’ll see a few Roderic O’Connell works, including his sturdy Breton Woman. Here, too you'll find the Midleton Mace.
Up then to the second floor which houses the archaeological collection, and more. Lots of stuff from ancient Greece and Rome, including a 1st century wine strainer and a 2nd century wine cup. And, more up to date is an Irish Drinking Vessel, made from wood and dated 16/17th century. Here too you’ll find other interesting objects including the Mary Queen of Scots Cross.
|Wine-time at the Clarion|
Down next, via the impressive 18th century stairs, to view the Religious Art collection on the ground floor. A coin here is reputed to be one of the “30 pieces of silver”. The Limerick diocese has some noteworthy pieces in the display, including a very impressive mitre and crosier. And on the way out you'll pass three large cartoons for stained glass by Evie Hone (who we met earlier in the day).
Anyone for coffee? Well, the museum can sort you out here too as they have a lovely cafe with views out to the water of the Shannon. So if you want a light lunch or a cup of coffee (quite good too), go no further.
|Rowers at sunset on the Shannon|
We enjoyed our coffee and headed back towards the Clarion, walking up the banks of the Shannon, part of the way on boardwalk, with lots of seats too if the sun is out and you want a rest or maybe just a stop to enjoy the view which might include a large flock of pigeons on the eye out for people with bread, the many swans just as eager.
We thought we deserved a glass of wine by the time we reached the Clarion. We had a chat with the friendly bar staff and settled on a glass each of Freixenet Mia Tempranillo (Spain) and a Finca Florencia Malbec (Argentina) and enjoyed them.
|Craft beers in the Locke|
Dinner that evening was down at the Locke Bar but before we headed out, we spotted quite a lot of rowing activity on the Shannon and the sun about to go down. It wasn't the most dramatic sunset you’ll ever see but the silhouetted boats made a pretty picture.
It was quite enough as we headed down the main streets (O’Connell and Patrick) to Georges Quay where the Locke Bar is situated on the riverbank. On opening the door we were struck by the buzz and the crowd; a friendly server soon welcomed us and found us a table in the restaurant where we enjoyed some decent bar food.
And more wine, of course, a couple of enjoyably flavoured Artisan’s Blend Sauvignon Blanc Semillon from Australia. There was even wine in my gorgeous starter: Dingle Bay crab claws, chardonnay cream and garlic bread. The bar, which also has a large floor upstairs, can feed hundreds and the numbers were rising as we left. In the summer time, the seats by the banks will be full too and many boats will be tied up down on the river.
Day 3: We were back down that way again in the morning for a quick look at Limerick's famous Milk Market. Saturday is the main day here for food, so we were a day early. A little early for most as it turned out. It was supposed to be a ten o'clock start and, with a Bank Holiday weekend ahead, perhaps the traders were getting into the mood and there was virtually nothing of note happening when we had to leave about the 10.30 mark. Another time.
And another time also for Limerick itself, after two very enjoyable days there. There was even a laugh in the toilets. No Mna or Fir for the Coqbull; they go with Standing and Sitting. In the Gents at the Locke Bar, they have a metal shield along the base of the pissoir to prevent you spraying your own shoes! I christened that the Parapee.
For more on Limerick, check out the Tourist Office.
- Phone: +353 61 407377
- Email: web.content@li
Find it on Arthur's Quay.