A fun filled weekend in Limerick
Updated: May 7
Limerick, one of the largest cities in Ireland and is located in the west of the island is a city which is worth hitting up to explore, eat, drink and sleep. The city makes it an ideal base for those visiting the nearby Cliffs of Moher or taking a drive on the Wild Atlantic Way but I also found that the city has so much to offer. Here is my guide on what to do for a weekend getaway in this charming, historic city.
King John’s Castle - take a step back in time and explore this well preserved castle located on Kings Island (yes, there is an island in the heart of Limerick) where a couple of hours is needed. The castle explains the history and who ruled this area many centuries ago, as the Vikings, English, Normans all came and went but used the castle as a stronghold before things calmed down for the last few centuries. Here I explored the massive courtyard and mastered some archery before checking out all the different rooms and climbing staircases up in the towers to get amazing views of the city.
Take a walking tour with a local - another highlight was doing a walking tour of the King’s Island and around the River Shannon with a local which organised through the Limerick Tourist Office here. I was taken around Kings Island, King John’s castle, the treaty stone, the 1916 commemorative garden and St Mary’s Cathedral. The knowledge by the guide was very informative and I managed to listen to every single word because my guide made the tour very interesting, interacted with the visitors and made sure I had fun.
St Mary’s Cathedral & the Prince of Montenegro - the cathedral has stood here since the 11th century and is worth a look around. I found the story of the resting place for Prince Milo of Montenegro rather interesting. Who is this prince you ask and why is there a connection between him and the cathedral. Well, the prince is buried here but the story of how he got buried here in Limerick I found amazing. If I wasn’t told (by my walking tour guide) he was buried here, I wouldn’t have known because his grave isn’t anything special or spectacular, just a normal grave with an average head stone.
Prince Milo was born in 1887 and died in 1978. Whilst a prince, he studied at the Military school in St Petersburg, Russia and made friends with Czar Nicholas II and Czarina Alexandra. Life turned for the worse when the prince was deposed off in 1919 and fled, ending up in the United States. Years went by and he landed up in the Limerick area. Here he made his final will and stated that he wanted to be buried in the grounds of St Mary’s Cathedral, to which this was carried out. After his death, years went by until the cathedral in 2011 received an official letter from the Montenegro government, stating that they wish to see the body of the prince sent back to the country for an official burial there. This was refused as Prince Milo wanted to be buried in Limerick.
Another interesting fact is that the Prince’s daughter is still alive and is known as Princess Milena who lives with her husband in California. She is a retired school teacher and when she was growing up, she, like her father, hoped to see Montenegro as a free country again. Her father didn’t of course as the country gained independence in 2006 but she did see it.
Whiskey tasting at Michael Flannery’s Pub - a lot of people back home (for me that is the United Kingdom) say a trip to Ireland isn’t complete without trying a pint of the black stuff (Guinness) but for me, it would be a disaster if I didn’t try any Irish Whiskey. I was happy to try this at Michael Flannery’s pub on Upper Denmark Street , which is a traditional Irish Bar which has one of the largest Irish Whiskey collections in the country (around 140 in stock). Whilst tasting the Irish Whiskey, I was given an in depth talk and information on them by a very informative guide. I was given three different types of Irish Whiskey to try and I was so glad we had the opportunity to do this.
The Copper Room - located at 100 o’Connell Street (this place is hard to find if you don’t know where it is), this is the top place to go and have some wine, port and cheese. At the Copper Room they have a huge selection of local and international cheeses, pates, and meats that can be paired with the right wine or port. I have to say, I was delighted to check out this establishment, the cheeses were amazing, the decor inside very rustic, the staff very helpful and knew their stuff on what cheese board and what wine to have with it and of course, I came away very happy.
Foynes Flying Boat & Maritime Museum: Whilst driving along the Wild Atlantic Way in County Limerick, I drove through a small village called Foynes, about a forty minute drive from Limerick. It was here I discovered the Foynes Flying Boat and Maritime Museum. I looked at the sign and thought I was here to see flying boat’s and thought when did we have flying boat’s on our planet? Then I read the sign outside the building again and I still didn’t get it. My head was going into overdrive. The history of this part of the world was, well, non-existent but it all became clear inside.
Inside the main entrance I was introduced to the museum by a member of staff who clearly knows the history not just of the museum but of the local area and her enthusiasm amazed me. I was made very welcome and then she explained to me everything I needed to know after I asked her the question ‘when did we have flying boats?’.
Well, the flying boats came about before the Second World War in the early 1930s when an idea was to fly passengers from Europe to New York. As the idea developed, Foynes became the main base as it was an ideal location to land the flying boats on the River Shannon (at its widest point before entering the Atlantic Ocean) and there are no mountains in the surrounding area. It may have taken time to get across the ocean back then but the Flying Boats were the first ever transatlantic passenger flights. A variety of passengers came through Foynes to get to/from America which included film stars and very rich men dressed in their Sunday best suits.
In the next room I had a long video presentation to watch (I think it was over ten minutes but as I am into aviation, it felt like the video lasted two minutes), which explained the history of the flying boats in detail and showed footage of the flights. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Before aviation really took off, there were planes taking off from the river and up in the air in seconds. The flying boat used was the B314 (and I will explain the interior shortly) but these days, there are none in the world. The video was presented in a room with 1940’s decor to make visitors feel like they have stepped back in time.
The next room was the museum. There was a room which had all the navigation equipment used when flights were landing to and from Foynes. There was no weather forecasting equipment here (or the rest of Ireland) and that was done by the British on the island next door (United Kingdom mainland).
Through the next door, I was looking at displays which contained the uniform staff used on flights to a can of food which hasn’t been opened to this very day. This museum was really fascinating and really caught my eye. I was looking at the early days of long haul flights and it started in this little village in Ireland. What amazed me even more was the museum building I was standing in was the old flight terminal for these flights. It felt like every minute or two, a new fact would hit me and I was gobsmacked. Why haven’t I heard of Foynes before? I should know this place if I love aviation but my history of this era was not very good.
Now the bit that blew my mind and nearly sent me to the local hospital with a heart attack. Through a door I was taken outside and right in front of me, a B314 (Boeing) Clipper Flying Boat. Then I was told it was a replica but was built exactly the same size and scale as the originals.. Well, it was still mind-blowing. Walking inside was like walking back in time. The seating area for passengers and where they dined during the flights. There was a honeymoon suite at the back and very basic toilet facilities on show. I was amazed how the stewardess cooked the seven course meal because the kitchen facilities area is very small.
Upstairs there was the navigating room plus the cockpit. I was amazed how small the cockpit was and how much leg room there is. It was all very basic compared to today’s modern cockpits and only a few dials to look at.
Back outside the aircraft and that was the end of our experience with the Flying Boats. Or was it? I was directed into another room which joins onto the gift shop and was called the Irish Coffee Centre. Nothing special there as Irish Coffee is sold across this green emerald island but my guide explained inside that this was the place where Irish Coffee was first invented. Yes, the world famous drink was first made here.
In the early 1940’s, a restaurant and coffee shop opened in the terminal building. During the winter of 1943, late one night, a flight left the area for New York. Several hours in the air getting battered by the bad weather conditions, the captain decided to turn around and landed back at Foynes. A message via morse code was sent to the terminal building telling them that the aircraft was coming back. Because of this, the staff who worked at the terminal were all called back and the passengers of the plane came into the restaurant for food and drink (and probably to recover from the storm, that must have been one shaky flight!).
The chef (Joe Sheridan) of the restaurant was asked to prepare something to warm up the passengers. So he decided to put some Irish whiskey in the coffee and that is how Irish Coffee came about. This is still served right here, in the very place it was prepared.
My experience here was amazing and I came here knowing nothing but came away with a great insight into the early days of transatlantic flying. This has to be one of very few museums I came away with a sense of great pride and positive feeling as usually I am not a big fan of museums. I looked at all the displays, read everything and listened to what my guide said to which she made my visit an enjoyable one. I highly recommend a stop here, even if visitors are not huge aviation fans.
Accommodation: The Clayton Hotel - Limerick
What I loved about my weekend stay in Limerick was the location of the hotel I stayed at. The Clayton Hotel is in the heart of the city centre and everything is within easy distance. Also as I was road tripping around the area, Limerick was an excellent base to explore the nearby Cliffs of Moher, the ‘Father’s Ted House’ and of course the Foynes Flying Boat & Maritime Museum. Located next to the River Shannon on the western side of the centre, the hotel can’t be missed as I believe this is the second highest building on the riverfront. As I had a car, I drove into the secure parking lot just around the corner on Steamboat Quay (the road which the hotel is located on) and took a short walk into the hotel.
I received a very warm Irish welcome with very well mannered staff who greeted me, giving me all the information I needed for a pleasant stay and managed to answer all my questions about the hotel and city straight away and very good replies. I love it when the hotel staff can help me or give me information just like that, sometimes it is always the staff that makes a hotel stay an excellent one and I got that here for sure. The front of the house area had some funky colourful chairs next to a modern fireplace and adjourns onto the restaurant area (more of that very shortly).
Let’s talk about rooms. I didn’t have the basic standard room that the hotel offers (but they sure look comfortable as I walked around the place) but I stayed in an executive room right near the top of the building. The room consists of the Clayton Hotels signature king-size King Koil bed with duck down duvets. I found the bed to be extremely comfortable and always got a good night's sleep on my two night stay here. When I had an afternoon of playing catchup on the laptop, I sat on the bed to be honest and not at the desk because I had to keep an eye on the rugby being played on the large flat-screen television (come on, when there is complimentary Sky Sports offered, gotta watch some sport). Heck, I made the afternoon a great one as I ordered food to the room (with a pint of the local brew) and was wearing a bathrobe and slippers which the hotel provides. I was all cozy and it was just nice to relax after road tripping around this part of the beautiful country for two weeks. The room also provides a Nespresso Coffee machine (which I didn’t use), table and chairs, plenty of storage space and a fantastic clean washroom. What I loved the most was the views from this floor. Beautiful autumn views over Limerick, probably the best one in the city.
As my followers and readers know (if you follow me on a regular basis), I love to keep fit and used to be a marathon runner (now I just run at shorter distances). Well, the hotel on ground level has the Club Vitae Gym and Leisure Centre located here (separate to the Clayton). However guests here do have access to use the facilities. I didn’t use the gym here but I did check out the swimming pool before dinner one evening, to get a few strokes in and just simply relax. Number one rule here is that guests have to wear the hats in the water. I didn’t mind, I love swimming in clean pools. That's what all guests want, right? I also enjoyed checking out the steam room, sauna and jacuzzi. Just a perfect end to the day after walking around the beautiful city of Limerick.
What I love the most here (and took me by surprise on my first visit to this region), is the food! I know the drinks are amazing in Ireland but come on, the food! Now that did that to me by surprise. I honestly thought the food was going to be similar to that of my home country just across the Irish Sea, or that all meals had potatoes (I am joking), but seriously, the food is amazing from the products the chefs used, the way it's cooked, the presentations to the taste. It was no different here in the Grill Bar & Restaurant located next to the front of house here in the Clayton Hotel. The standard of the food, service, and cleanliness of the restaurant was totally amazing. It was so great that I actually spent two evenings on the bounce in this restaurant and didn’t eat out in the city! I also had breakfast here which was a buffet style, all the food once again amazingly cooked and well presented and left here both mornings with a full stomach and a big grin on the face. The hotel also offers the Waterfront restaurant (which hopefully I will check out on my next visit to the city and the hotel of course).
In all, the Clayton Hotel in Limerick has it all. The location in the centre of the city and besides the river, the views, the comfortable beds, the exceptional service, the fitness and swimming rooms, the food, I would totally recommend to my readers that when staying in this part of Ireland, then a stay at the Clayton Hotel is a must.
Like this blog? Pin it on Pinterest! Click the pin below!