Monday, October 24, 2011

King John's Castle

King John's Castle is a castle found on King's Island, which in turn is found in the heart of medieval Limerick City. Overlooking the River Shannon, it was built between 1200 and 1210 and was repaired and extended many times in the following centuries. It also doubled as the Mint for coin making.

The castle was first built between 1200 and 1210 on top of large earthen defences and has been repaired and extended several times. In 1642 the Great Siege practically devastated both Limerick and the castle (especially at the front wall, aka the east curtain wall). It also didn't do the countersiege mines any good. Recently, the remains of a medieval garrison and soldiers quarters have been unearthed near the sallyport area of the castle and can be seen from the courtyard. Many houses believed to be of Viking origin have also been found during the castle's restoration and are worth checking out. Between 1690 and 1691 the Treaty of Limerick was signed due to the mayhem from the Williamite Sieges. The Treaty Stone is said to be the site of the document's signing and can be seen on the far shore of the river from the battlements.

A Tour of the Castle

1. The main entrance (of course).

2. Behind the entrance is a reconstruction of a medieval courtyard displaying trades and traditions from the 16th century.

3. Cylindrical towers fortify the castle's corners and protect it from attacks. The north-east tower's worth checking out if you want to hear what King John has to say about himself.

4. Just in case any attacker managed to get over the moat and drawbridge had to contend with the mighty portcullis which defended the main door.

5. Connecting the gatehouse to the corner towers is the wall along the battlements, and it makes for a pleasurable walk with no fear of getting sniped by enemies (just try not to fall off).

6. If you go to the tops of the corner towers you'll be greeted by a splendid sight of the city along with the Shannon River.

7. In the north-west tower you have window seats which show signs of domesticity. It was where the constable resided. Since it was the strongest room in the castle it housed all valuables. The mint is also found here.

8. This wall is part of the Castle Barracks which date from the 18th century.

9. From 1993 to 1995 archaeological excavations were carried out here. They'll be open to the public once they clean up the mess.

10. Recently a sallyport (a side entrance) has been exposed in the castle wall. Very useful as an escape route during a siege.

11. In the south-west tower you have details of 17th century events involving sieges, treaties and prominent faces at the time.

12. The archaeological excavations and their evidence are presented in situ beneath the interpretative building. The stairs there lead up to the gift shop and exit.

13. Outside the castle walls you have buildings clad with bricks or stone salvaged from demolished buildings in Limerick. These provide retailing, restaurant and pub facilities for anyone stopping by.

14.Lastly is the Tavern which is a unique liscenced bar done in an 18th century theme and is available for special services.

Here's the URL for anyone interested in checking out the place:

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