lifestyle

Alternative Ireland: Limerick's historical charm captures the beautiful city

getwestlondon' s Amita Joshi went to explore Limerick's hidden treasures, curious history and delicious food markets

King John's Castle told the city's history

"Trip to Ireland? Where are you off to, Dublin?"

No, I wasn’t off to the place of hen weekends, even though it was my first time to Ireland. I was flying to Shannon and had feasted my eyes on a lesser known place - Limerick.

A short flight from London to Shannon and we are a mere 10 minutes from the Radisson Blu Hotel and Spa, our home for the next few days.

Brightly coloured houses lined the streets of Adare

The fourth most popular city awaited us, but first we check in and roam the charming village of Adare, dubbed "Ireland's most beautiful village".

It is Ireland’s answer to Hobbiton, small, multi-coloured homes and little independents lined the main street, all surrounded by golf courses, the areas biggest tourism pull.

From there we hit the city, our first stop being the Frank McCourt Museum, home of the famous author of Angela’s Ashes.

The Frank McCourt Musum is a brilliantly moving must see in Limerick

Cold, rustic and cavernous, the converted literary spot reconstructs Ireland’s hardships over the years, all depicted by the tale of one artistic and wonderfully talented McCourt family.

The moving experience of being immersed in the world of the top-selling novelist is a must see for book lovers who can explore wall murals, showcases and memorabilia.

The delights of Limerick's food trail

A taste of Limerick can't simply be achieved by wondering the streets - the food trail will bring a new and edible layer to the trip.

We speak to sellers and explore the market

A whirlwind tour shows us the meat and bread traditions of the area. It still held its olden day presence proudly - the butchers, the bakers, all like a time freeze of the days gone by.

A short walk from there brings you to the main attraction of the tour - the oldest weekly market in Ireland.

Butchers gave us their finest cuts to sample as we made our way around the Limerick food trail before the market

The stall sellers are full of warmth as they explained their products. Homemade chutneys, strings of mozzarella, fruity teas, an assortment of flavoured baclava pieces and orange chocolate samples later and we waddle into a horse and carriage which trots its way through the city and to King John’s Castle.

History from the castle - and the river

A fusion of old and new, modern technology is used to tell the tale in the historic castle, both for adults and children.

The stunning views from the castle top

Walk to the top of the turrets and a beautiful view of the city makes for a perfect end to the fascinating tale of Kings, invasions and battles.

A busy day out can be perfectly harmonised by an afternoon tea stop back at the hotel and spa treatments. One excellent massage and selection of cakes later, we take some time to reflect on the city’s beauty before supper at Porters, inside Radisson Blu.

The Radisson Blu and Spa

It's the crack of dawn, the sun makes the waves sparkle and we clamber into our kayaks.

Our instructor says the river Shannon has its own history and one which you could only truly understand if you went down the river itself.

An early morning kayak set up the rest of the day

It was where goods were imported and a trading hub of the area as well as a war zone at one point when there were Viking invasions.

Being a first timer didn’t stop us, with two excellent instructors guiding us on how to paddle with confidence, making for the most serene morning.

Gliding down the river before the city has stirred awake is an enchanting experience and don't let lack of experience put you off this glorious water sport.

The world's only full size replica of a B314 flying boat

There is only time for one last pit stop - the Flying Boat Museum in nearby Foynes. Now this is history like I've never known it. Ireland has its own heritage and even when it came to aviation, they have their very own tale to tell, spectacularly told with the world's only full size replica of a B314 flying boat.

A truly remarkable sight, visitors can walk inside the flying boat and take a look around the rooms, how passengers would have sat and even sit in the pilot seat themselves.

Learn about the Atlantic Ocean ventures as disasters and victories marked the peaks of the maritime history along the way.

Horse and carriage awaits

Dublin might be the Irish introductory way, but Limerick gave me a glance into the Ireland without Guinness hats and tourist shops.

In just three days, we sampled the many flavours of the city, be it the food and drink culture, or the literary tales of Ireland. It was the untold story of Kings and queens, the rich and poor, past and present. And I look forward to seeing what’s in the future for this gem of a spot.

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