Limerick, Ireland Hotels, Resort Accommodations

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LIMERICK
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Squarely on the path of all the major routes across the country, and situated pretty much at the head of the Shannon estuary, the city of LIMERICK seems a logical place to make for, but it's a disappointment. Though it's the Republic's third city, and heavily industrialized, it somehow falls significantly short of being a metropolis, yet also lacks the attractions of a typically relaxed western seaboard town. Unemployment and economic hard times have left their mark, it doesn't always seem a friendly place and certain areas can feel positively intimidating at night. Even so, recent efforts to clean up Limerick's image are starting to pay off. On a fine day the area around King John's Castle affords some sense of the city's medieval history and the Georgian Custom House is home to the excellent Hunt Museum - reason alone enough to give Limerick some time.

The city is famous too as the setting for Frank McCourt's international best-seller Angela's Ashes - a memoir which received a mixed reception locally for its portrayal of a Limerick childhood of grinding poverty. Lively walking tours are proving increasingly popular with tourists wanting to tap into the experiences at the heart of the book, and it seems likely that the reconstructed heritage slum will be a similar draw.

The city you see today is predominantly Georgian, but nevertheless Limerick has three distinct historical areas: Englishtown , the oldest part of the city, built on an island in the Shannon with the castle as its focal point; Irishtown , which began to take shape in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries; and within this Newtown Pery , the modern centre, a jumble of beautiful but rather dilapidated Georgian terraces and garish fast-food joints.

The sometimes incongruous blend of old and new in Limerick is testimony to a city discovering itself after years of neglect. Renovations and new building programmes stand alongside buildings - and indeed whole districts - that seem barely touched by the last fifty years. The best views of the city are to be had walking along the banks of the Shannon, especially around Arthur's Quay and the City Hall, or alternatively from the top of King John's Castle. Although virtually all the sights are in the old parts, Englishtown and Irishtown , the modern centre of the city is Newtown Pery - where the shops, pubs and restaurants congregate - an area of broad parallel streets scattered with fine, if neglected, Georgian buildings. O'Connell Street is the chief artery of this part of the city, and it's worth wandering down here, checking out the side streets with their characterful pubs and shops. Getting around the centre is easiest on foot.

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