King John’s Castle, Limerick
Back in January this year I took a weekend trip to Limerick on the river Shannon, to King Johns Castle located at the high street end of the town.
The Castle is a 13th-century construction located on King’s Island in Limerick, next to the River Shannon. Although the site dates back to 922 when the Vikings lived on the Island, the castle itself was built on the orders of King John in 1200. The walls, towers and fortifications remain today and are visitor attractions.
The remains of a Viking settlement were uncovered during archaeological excavations at the site in 1900
If you are passing this part of the world the Castle is well worth a visit as is a walk around Limerick city itself. You can go on a loop river walk that lets you see every part of the city from the river bank. There are many pubs and coffee stops along the way all with a great view of the river.
The arrival of the Anglo-Normans to the area in 1172 changed everything. Domhnall Mór Ó Briain burned the city to the ground in 1174 in a bid to keep it from the hands of the new invaders. After he died in 1194, the Anglo-Normans finally captured the area in 1195 under King John. In 1197, local legend claims Limerick was given its first charter and its first Mayor, Adam Sarvant. A castle, built on the orders of King John and bearing his name, was completed around 1210.
The castle was built on the boundary of the River Shannon in order to protect the city from the west and from any rebellion by Norman lords to the east and south. Under the general peace imposed by the Norman rule, Limerick prospered as both a port and a trading center, partly due to the castle acting as a watchdog on any cargo passing through the port of Limerick.
The town of Limerick became so wealthy during this era King John set up a mint in the North West corner of the castle, with pennies and half pennies from this time available to see in Limerick museum today. A 1574 document prepared for the Spanish ambassador attests to its wealth: