Limerick is a city in Ireland. It is located in the Mid-West Region and is also part of the province of Munster. Limerick City Council is the local authority for the city. The city is built on several curves and islands of the River Shannon, which spreads into an estuary shortly downriver from Limerick. It is the third most populous city in the state and the fifth most populous on the island of Ireland. It was the first city to receive the designation of City of Culture.
Luimneach originally referred to the general area along the banks of the Shannon Estuary known as Loch Luimnigh. The earliest settlement in the city, Inis Sibhtonn, was the original name for King's Island during the pre-Viking and Viking eras. This island was also called Inis an Ghaill Duibh, The Dark(haired) Foreigner's Island. The name is recorded in Viking sources as Hlymrekr.
The city 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.
In early medieval times Limerick was at the centre of the Kingdom of Thomond which corresponds to the present day Mid West Region however, the Kingdom also included North Kerry and parts of South Offaly. One of the Kingdom's most notable kings was Brian Boru, ancestor of the O'Brien Clan of Dalcassians. The word Thomond is synonymous with the region and is retained in place names such as Thomondgate, Thomond Bridge & Thomond Park.
Late Renaissance/Early Modern history
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. The Treaty of Limerick ended the Williamite war in Ireland which was fought between supporters of the Catholic King James II (Jacobites) and the Protestant King William of Orange (Williamites). The treaty offered toleration to Catholicism and full legal rights to Catholics that swore an oath of loyalty to William and Mary. The Treaty was of national significance as it ensured closer British and Protestant dominance over Ireland. The articles of the Treaty protecting Catholic rights were not passed by the Protestant Irish Parliament but rather updated the Penal Laws against Catholics which had major implications for Irish history. Reputedly the Treaty was signed on the Treaty Stone, an irregular block of limestone which once served as a mounting block for horses. This stone is now displayed on a pedestal at Clancy Strand. Because of the treaty, Limerick is sometimes known as the Treaty City. This turbulent period earned the city its motto: Urbs antiqua fuit studisque asperrima belli (An ancient city well studied in the arts of war).
The peace times that followed the turmoil of the late 17th Century allowed the city to prosper and Limerick grew rich through trade in the late 18th century. This period saw a rapid expansion of the city as Limerick took on the appearance of a Georgian City. It was during this time that the city centre took on its present day look with the ubiquitous terraced Georgian townhouses which are so prevalent today. The prosperity was ended by the Act of Union in 1800 and the Great Irish Famine which 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 railway 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.
Twentieth century history
During the Irish War of Independence, the Limerick Soviet was a self-declared soviet that existed from 15 to 27 April 1919. A general strike was organised by the Limerick Trades and Labour Council, as a protest against the British army's declaration of a "Special Military Area" under the Defence of the Realm Act, which covered most of Limerick city and a part of the county. During the strike a special strike committee was set up to print their own money, control food prices and publish newspapers.