In late 2007/early 2008, Coonagh Cross Shopping Centre will be opened. It will be the biggest shopping centre in the Mid-West region. A city-centre shopping centre of a similar scale (billed in some places as prospectively the biggest in Munster) is also planned. The Opera Centre would be located parallel to Rutland and Patrick Street, from the (Abbey River) quays to Ellen Street.
Town: Limerick City
Scene: Landsdowne Road
Date: circa 1910
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Read about Limerick City below
Limerick (Irish: Luimneach: Lom na nEach - the bare place - i.e. open ground - of the horses) is a city and the county seat of County Limerick in the province of Munster, in the midwest of the Republic of Ireland. The city lies on the River Shannon, with three main crossing points near the city centre.
Luimneach originally referred to the general area along the banks of the Shannon Estuary, which was known as Loch Luimnigh. The earliest settlement in the city Inis Sibhtonn was the original name in the annals for King's Island during the pre-Viking and Viking eras. This island was also called Inis an Ghaill Duibh.
The city itself dates from at least the Viking settlement in 812. The Normans redesigned the city in the 12th century and added much of the most notable architecture, such as King John's Castle and St Mary's Cathedral. During the civil wars of the 17th century, the city played a pivotal role, besieged by Oliver Cromwell in 1651 and twice by the Williamites in the 1690s. Limerick grew rich through trade in the late 18th century, but the Act of Union in 1800, and the famine caused a crippling economic decline broken only by the so-called Celtic Tiger in the 1990s.
The Waterford and Limerick Railway linked the city to the Dublin-Cork main line in 1848 and to Waterford in 1853. The opening of a number of secondary railways in the 1850s and 1860s developed Limerick as a regional centre of communications.
Limerick is at the centre of the Midwest region which contributes €8.224 billion (2002) towards Irish GDP. It is situated 195 km west of Dublin and is equidistant at 105 km from the cities of Cork to the south and Galway to the north.
The population of Limerick city and the immediate rural area (environs/suburbs) is 90,778 (based on the 2006 census carried out by the CSO), of which 52,560 live in the city limits and 38,218 live in the city's environs in both County Limerick and County Clare (see page 171). As with most other large cities in the country, Limerick has attracted a noticeable immigrant community over the past decade. The Polish community is the second largest outside of Dublin, with an estimated 8,000 living and working in the city. Ireland's first ever Polish bank is set to open in 2007. In addition the African community have setup a small number of churches, which are now part of the cultural makeup of the city.
Limerick city is the fourth largest in the Republic of Ireland (after Dublin, Cork and Galway), but the city's urban area makes it's fifth largest on the island of Ireland (after Dublin, Belfast, Cork and Derry; but ahead of Galway).
Limerick City Council has responsibility for certain local services such as sanitation, planning and development, libraries, collection of motor taxation, local roads and social housing. The City Council comprises elected ward councillors (formerly termed Aldermen) with an appointed (full time) CEO as City Manager. The councillors annually elect a Mayor to chair the council and represent the City. As of 2006 the current Mayor is Councillor Joe Leddin; previous Mayors include TDs Donagh O'Malley, Stephen Coughlan, Michael Lipper, Jim Kemmy and Jan O'Sullivan.
Despite the rapid growth of the city environs, the city borders have not been changed since the 1960s. A large proportion of what is considered as the population of Limerick City now live in suburbs built after the 1960s and are thus in the Limerick County Council administrative area. These include much of Caherdavin, Dooradoyle, Castletroy — including the University, Gouldavoher, and Raheen. There are ever-increasing political demands from City Councillors for a redrawing of the boundary, which is generally deemed antiquated and inaccurate for modern-day Limerick.
For national Dáil elections Limerick city is included in the Limerick East constituency which elects five members on a proportional representation system. For European parliament elections Limerick is included in the South Ireland constituency which elects three representatives.
Between April 15 1919, and April 27, 1919 the city had a period of socialist self-rule, which was called the Limerick Soviet (which was parodied several times by the satirical RTE Radio 1 program Scrap Saturday).
Limerick is at the heart of the region dubbed 'the Midwest'. Also known as the 'Shannon Region', this is primarily an economic and social concept. The region encompasses County Limerick, County Clare, North County Tipperary and Northwest County Kerry, with its focal point centred on Limerick and its environs within an eight kilometre (5 mile) radius
The area is possibly the main economic region outside of Dublin and Cork. Its economic success has been driven in part by the University of Limerick, Shannon Airport in Co. Clare and Shannon Development (an economic development agency), whose precursor was SFADCO (Shannon Free Airport Development Company), an economic agency that provided tax incentives to companies locating in the area surrounding Shannon Airport. As of 2006 Shannon Development are mostly concerned with disposing of valuable industrial park properties.
Historically Limerick was an agricultural commodity-driven economy, due to its position as the first major port along the River Shannon. The city was one of the main meat processing areas in Ireland, and industry included confectionery and flour production. In line with the changing economic landscape in Ireland, many multinational companies are now based in Limerick. Dell have their main European Manufacturing Facility in Raheen Business Park, currently producing 30,000-60,000 units per day for export to the EMEA, and are one of the largest employers in the midwest region. This contributes 5.8 of Irish GDP (2002). Analog Devices have their European manufacturing base also in Raheen, 3 km south-west of the city centre. The site employs more than 1,000 people. Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Vistakon also have a large facility in Castletroy - one of the largest contact lens manufacturing plants in the world, located in the National Technology Park.
Limerick City is one of the country's main tourist destinations, the city is only a 15 minute drive from Shannon Airport. Currently tourism is growing at a spectacular rate with over 1,000 new beds being opened in the city in 2006 thanks to the opening of 5 new hotels. The city is the first to provide visitors to the city with 'Street Ambassadors', people designated to help others around and make the stay in Limerick more enjoyable.
Tourist attractions in the city centre include King John's Castl (1212), St. Mary's Cathedral, Limerick (1168), Hunt Museum, several (seasonal) tours (Angela's Ashes walking tour of Limerick City, Hop on-Hop off Sightseeing tour of Limerick City, The historical walking tour of Limerick and Boat tours along the River Shannon), the University of Limerick, Georgian house and gardens, Treaty Stone, and more. Adare village and the Foynes Flying Boat Museum (all on the outskirts of the city) are also popular attractions.
The service industry is an important employer in the city. The city centre is one of the main shopping areas, with the pedestrianised Cruises Street being one of the main shopping streets and the soon to be finished Bedford Row. New on the agenda is the proposed predestranisation of O'Connell Street up to Roches St near the Oriental Foodstore and a new look for William St, the heart of Limerick City. Each side of the city has outlying shopping areas. Crescent Shopping Centre is located in Dooradoyle, not far from the city centre. It features over 90 shopping outlets along with various restaurants and the 12 screen Omniplex Cinema. Regular bus services run from the city centre to the Crescent Shopping Centre. The Jetland Shopping Centre, located in Caherdavin, opened in 2005 beside the old Jetland centre (featuring a 24-hr Dunnes Stores), and Castletroy has the relatively new Castletroy Shopping Centre, with the Parkway Shopping Centre situated closer to town at the end of the Childers Road. The first two extensive retail parks in the city, the Parkway Retail Park (opened 2002) and Childers Road Retail Park (opened 2005), are located near this shopping centre. A third retail park, CityEast Retail Park opened in late 2005 on the Tipperary Road.
In late 2007/early 2008, Coonagh Cross Shopping Centre will be opened. It will be the biggest shopping centre in the Mid-West region. A city-centre shopping centre of a similar scale (billed in some places as prospectively the biggest in Munster) is also planned. The Opera Centre would be located parallel to Rutland and Patrick Street, from the (Abbey River) quays to Ellen Street. This will be the first major leap of faith by external developers in Limerick City Centre as up to now the city has been all but passed over leaving the majority of development to locals. The proposed redevelopment of the entire Arthur's Quay Area, New Docklands twinned with a newly vibrant night economy helped in no small way by international tourists using Budget Flights from Shannon Airport. Limerick City has a vibrant nightlife, with numerous nightclubs; Trinity Rooms probably being the best known nationally with acts like the Human League, Femi Kuti and Roger Sanchez having played there in the last year. Pubs such as Nancy Blakes, The Wicked Chicken, Mickey Martins and The Old Quarter give a range of drinking experiences from the warm and cosy to cutting edge. Traditional Irish Music is based around Dolans Warehouse which is firmly established on the national Trad circuit and also hosts many tribute and local rock bands.
The city centre is divided between the traditional areas of 'English Town' on the southern end of King's Island, which includes the castle, 'Irish Town' which includes the older streets on the south bank, and the current economic centre called 'Newtown Pery'. Newtown Pery was built in the late 18th century before the Act of Union and, unusually for an Irish city and unique in Limerick itself, this area is laid out on a grid plan. Limerick city centre is changing rapidly, with the construction of several modern high-rise buildings in the early-2000s. The suburban regions, where the majority of the population now live, have grown out from the centre along the main roads to Ennis (North Circular and Ennis Road areas/Caherdavin), Dublin (Castletroy and the University) and Cork (Ballinacurra/Dooradoyle/Raheen). Suburban houses are generally two floor semi-detached homes for single families. These were built from the 1960s onwards in large estates by government projects and commercial developments, although there are many examples of Edwardian and older 1930s suburban homes on the main suburban thoroughfares leading towards the city (North & South Circular, Ballinacurra Road, O'Connell Avenue).
Much Georgian architecture was evident in the city from about the 1800s onwards. Although some has since been demolished, much of the Newtown Pery area is built in the Georgian fashion. Other architectural buildings of note in the city are King John's Castle and St Mary's Cathedral in English Town and St John's Cathedral, designed by the notable Victorian architect, Philip Charles Hardwick. St Mary's Cathedral, at over 800 years old, is one of the oldest in Ireland. St John's Cathedral, whilst more modern, has one of the tallest steeples.
One of Ireland's most celebrated museums, the Hunt Museum, is based in the historic 18th-century former Custom House. The museum was established to house an internationally important collection of approximately 2000 works of art and antiquities formed by John and Gertrude Hunt during their lifetimes. On display are the 9th century Antrim Cross, a sketch by Picasso and a bronze sculpture of a horse, said to be from a design by Leonardo da Vinci.