Day 18 – Loitering in Limerick

Day 18 - Loitering in Limerick


Time drags a bit when you’re on a cycling holiday and have no cycling to do, so I;ve been feeling a bit spare since I arrived in Limerick. Last night I noticed that Eva Cassidy - The Story was happening at the Belltable Arts centre which is just around the corner from the hotel, so, as I quite like Eva Cassidy, I thought I’d go along after I’d had something to eat, which I did at Zo Zabb Thai bistro.  They had an evening deal of two courses, including tea/soft drink for 10 euros and the Thai style ribs and Pad Thai noodles with Jasmine tea went down very well.  I bulked it out with some egg fried rice for an extra 1.50 euro and felt well satisfied.


Elsa Jean McTaggart is a Scot, one of eleven children from a Perthshire family, now living on the Isle of Lewis and she and her husband Gary, who acts as background keyboard player and general factotum are touring this show about the life and work of Eva Cassidy.

 Elsa Jean has a lovely voice and is a pretty accomplished guitarist and has definitely captured the essence of Miss Cassidy, using projection, film and a chatty, amusing personality to tell the story. She played to an appreciative audience of about 80 people in a theatre that will hold 220: however at the end of the evening she really showed us some skill on her main instrument, the fiddle with a foot stomping medley of her own composition to finish the show on a high note.  She says she’ll travel anywhere for a gig including regular visits to Scandinavia so if you happen to see that she’s in your area (and she’s played at the Mission Theatre in Bath this year) I recommend that you go and see her.


This morning I woke, as usual, at about 0700 but lazed in bed as there was nothing in particular to do before setting off for a tour of Limerick’s museums which don’t open until 10am.  I made my way in the direction of King John’s Castle and had a bite of breakfast in a cafe on the way.


King John of England was the youngest and favourite of the five sons of Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine and had little expectation of inheriting the English Throne and control of large areas of France.  However three of his elder brothers died young and only Richard the Lionheart was ahead of him in the succession.  When Richard I died of gangrene after an assassination attempt, John became King of England from 1199 until his death in 1216, during which time he lost most of the English possessions in France and had to submit to the Barons by way of the Magna Carta.  As Messrs Sellar and Yeatman had it in 1066 and all That, King John was a Bad King


However, rewinding a little, Henry II made John Lord of Ireland in 1177 and on his second visit in 1210 he agreed that a castle should be built in Limerick to protect the Norman rulers from the Gaelic chiefs who were, understandably, pretty upset by the treatment they were receiving from their overlords under the pertaining feudal system


There’s a rather nice ditty to explain the feudal system that was penned by Jack Broome, a Royal Naval officer who was an accomplished cartoonist.


The feudal system had its points but gave the King bad dreams

For it meant the land divided into sundry fighting teams

The King might get a telegram from Baron, Priest or Lord

To say “Arriving Saturday, intend to sweep the board”


Anyway Limerick Castle was built, starting in 1212, and was added to over the years.  It was besieged five times, mainly in the 17th century, before finally ceasing its military use after the Irish Civil War in 1923.


In 2014 Limerick became Ireland’s first City of Culture and as part of that initiative a visitor centre and interactive display of the history of the Castle was built.  It is informative and allows the visitor to explore not only the walls and courtyard of the castle but also the undercroft which has been extensively excavated.  My visit was largely in the rain so I was glad to be inside for much of it


The views from the turrets would have been great on a bright day but I publish one anyway, with Thomond Park in the background.