The first time I viewed King John’s Castle was several years back while I was in Limerick, and on my way to the Cliffs of Moher. We were briefly in the city, and I was standing at the River Shannon when an old stone fortified structure was pointed out. It was the castle that belonged to King John of England.
That struck a strong cord in me because Keith had traced his lineage back to King John, but to his bastard son. I cheekily told him, “Of course, you would be related to his bastard son!” I knew that I married well. I decided then to return and visit the castle, and a few years later, I did.
When I had re-visited Limerick, to fulfill that promise to myself to visit the castle, it fell short of my expectations. It was not as aesthetically impressive as other castles that I had visited. Thinking back, I was a little heartbroken.
Maybe my expectations were too high, but there was not much to this castle besides the castle ruin walls, and a history lesson on Limerick. Once I started walking through the castle and learning about its placement in the region’s history, King John’s Castle started to grow on me.
What I did find impressive about the castle was that it is one of the best preserved Norman castles in Europe. Also, the grounds of the castle have a Viking past; in 1900, during an archaeological excavation the remains of a Viking settlement were uncovered.
During King John’s time in Ireland, he ruled the land the same as he did in England. He created approximately twelve counties, with Limerick being one of them. The city of Limerick became very prosperous as a port and trading center, due to the castle being on watch of all cargo that passed. Limerick was split into two parts “English Town”, the kings side, and “Irish Town”.
Over the centuries the castle had been severely damaged especially during the Siege of Limerick in 1642. The Irish Confederate force dug at the walls of the castle in order to collapse it, which caused great damage to the foundation, and had to be pulled down afterwards. The castle was needing great repair in the following centuries, and it finally got its renewal this century.
In 2011 to 2013, the castle had gone through major redevelopment to make it more visitor friendly with a café, visitor’s center, and an interactive exhibition.
The castle still stands after 1,000 years of wars, battles, and sieges; as well as being built on former Viking settlement. Although it is quite sparse inside for visitors, the fortification and history of King John’s Castle is well worth the visit.
For more information, please visit – King John’s Castle
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