About Limerick


The official coat of arms of the City of Limerick

This ancient and noble city well studied in the ways of war. So goes the City motto of our proud and rejuvenated city. Limerick City is famous for many reasons some good, and some less than savoury. Founded by the Norse and sitting at the entrance to the mouth of the Shannon river, Limerick boasts a history and tradition that demonstrates resilience in all respects.

Once a walled city Limerick endured two major sieges in the latter part of 1600’s, during which legendary deeds were done. Names like Galloping Hogan and Patrick Sarsfield have passed into folklore and are regarded in the same way as Brian Boru and his Dalcassins and their defence of Thomond in ancient history. It was here too that Women’s Liberation came to the fore and long before Cumann na mBan or Suffragettes the women of Limerick defended their city against the advancing enemy by successfully defending a breach in the wall of the city

“Studisque asperrima in causa belli”.

Limerick’s economy continued to thrive during the 18th and 19th century giving rise to a very class-conscious society where the merchant class thrived though abject poverty akin to that of any European City also co-existed. Throughout this time, though the “Wild Geese” had fled following the sieges, Limericks economic “Wild Geese” continued to leave their native city and cast the shadow of their wings over every corner of the globe, exerting influence in many spheres and bringing with them a love and a memory of their native place.

limerick-city-coat-of-armsThe transition to the start of the twentieth century was troubled worldwide, wars were commonplace and empires were creaking under the demands for political and economic self-determination. Limerick too was caught up in that desire for change and in that most Irish of paradoxes contributed over four thousand men to the defence of the Realm that we were also so desirous to rid ourselves of.

“Studisque asperrima in causa belli”

Limerick proved itself too in embracing new ideas throughout her history and when following the fall of the Tsars an idealistic and innovative system of communal ownership was put in place in Russia, Limerick was the first soviet established outside of the former fiefdom. It only lasted a short time but it gave birth to the ideal of organised working, which has led to a very strong labour tradition within and throughout the history of Limerick for the past hundred years.

Limerick has always welcomed and embraced positive change; indeed culturally two of the most identifiable Limerick traits and talents came about due to our position as a Garrison City within the British Empire.

Music, particularly military and band music, has a long association with Limerick and today this is manifest with many of the younger population learning instruments and being involved in organised music at all levels and genres. Much of this love of music came about through the tradition of marching bands in Limerick. This began primarily with the British troops stationed in what is now Sarsfield Barracks and has extended and been embraced by all social and political strata of this noble city.

“Urbs Antiqua Fuit”.

Rugby too is bred into the Limerick psyche; with six senior sides in the city and a myriad of junior teams, the city is justifiably proud of its reputation as the rugby hotbed of Ireland. It is the city where class does not enter into the equation once you don a rugby jersey and where the “docker and doctor” combine to attain the elusive Holy Grail for the good of club, or province.

“Studisque asperrima in causa belli”

In literature too, we have produced many great luminaries. Going back to the Maigue poets and Michael Hogan the Bard of Thomond and forward through the centuries to Kate O Brien, Jim Kemmy, Seamus O Cinneide, Maureen Sparling and the controversial Frank McCourt who made us look at ourselves and our past in a different light.

Not satisfied with the constraints already placed on writing Limerick added a new form to English literature with the five line rhyming verse that was proudly called The Limerick. Other “Limerick” words added to the language include “Garryowen” and “Mullocker”. The proud Limerick tradition of writing is being carried on still through the work of John Breen, Mike Finn and Michael Curtin amongst others.

“Urbs Antiqua Fuit”

Many other areas of Limerick life are worthy of mention not least religion, arts and education. Limerick has over the past 30 years rejuvenated itself architecturally by turning the city back towards the river, economically, by establishing a new hi-tech base to replace traditional and non viable industry and most importantly socially by maintaining its sense of humour and ability to laugh at itself and others and in true Limerick tradition to engage in that most ancient of Limerick ceremonies “The Ball Hop”

“Urbs Antiqua Fuit Studisque Asperrima in Causa Belli”

George Lee ?2002 leeg@gofree.indigo.ie