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A Brief History 
 
 
Map of Limerick City, circa 1587
An early record of the name of Limerick is contained in the Annals of the four masters, where in the year AD221 a battle, we are told, was fought here. Over a century later, in the year AD334, the Great Crunthaun, one of the most remarkable of the ancient kings of Ireland, died here. 

In the 9th century Luimenach was the name given to the lower Shannon, but in 861 it ceased to be the name of the river and was thereafter usually applied to the settlement on the island known as Inis Sibhton (King's Island). 
 
 

 
In AD900 Norse warriors called Vikings, led by one named Tomar, came and settled here. They chose this location because it was the first place on the Shannon that was fordable (at Curragour Falls) and was also on an island (Inis Sibhton), formed by the Abbey River - a branch of the Shannon. 

In 1197 the city was granted its charter by Prince John, Lord of Ireland, who became King of England in 1199. He was a brother to King Richard the Lionheart. 

Limerick then is one of the oldest cities in these islands and was the first in Ireland to appoint a mayor, namely, Adam Sarvant (1197-98) and his bailiffs were John Bambery and Walter White. 

 
 
 
King John's Castle was erected between c.1200 and 1207 and the original Thomond Bridge appears to have been built at about that time also. 

The building of the walls of the English Town on King's Island commenced in the 13th century and when it was completely walled had a circumference of 1.5 miles, encompassing 35 acres and was made up of the parishes of St. Mary, Nicholas and Munchin. 

Construction of the Irish Town began in the year 1310 and was completed in 1495. Although different in shape from the English Town, its area and circumference was roughly the same. Both towns were joined by Baal's Bridge which was built at the narrowest point of the Abbey River in 1340. 

King John's Castle, Limerick City
 
"Urbs Antiqua Fuit Studiisque Asperrima Belli" - an ancient city well versed in the arts of war.  
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It is not known exactly when, or by whom, the city motto was first decided upon, however, it is a quotation from Virgil's Aeneid and was quoted during the time of the sieges in the mid 17th century. This adage describes the place very well as from the time of the Vikings built the first settlement in AD922, Limerick has been the site of many major battles. 
 
The Treaty Stone, Clancy's Straand, Limerick City
The Treaty Stone, Clancy's Strand, Limerick City
Oliver Cromwell's son-in-law, Henry Ireton, kept Limerick under siege in 1651. King William III's army did so in 1690 and again in 1691, the latter culminating on the 3rd of October with the signing of the Treaty of Limerick. 

Tradition maintains that it was signed on the stone which is now mounted on a pedestal, near Thomond Bridge, on Chancy Strand. 

Click here for an indepth history of the Sieges of Limerick 1690 - 1691 and the Treaty of Limerick

 

Limerick was still a fortified city when John Pardon and Edmund Sexton started work on the building of New Square, now known as St. John's Square. This development which cost £630 was designed by Francis Bandana and it was begun in 1751. 

In 1760, Limerick was proclaimed an open city and the demolition of the medieval walls began. Around that time the building of the Georgian town known as Newton Pery started. The main leaders connected with this movement were Pery, who owned most of the land, his brother-in-law Sir Henry Harstonge, the Russell's and the Arthur's. Many streets are named after these people and members of their families. The Newton was laid out by Advise Ducat, an Italian designer and architect. Ducat also designed the Custom House in Rutland Street, which was completed in 1769. The Newton with its wide straight streets in gridiron pattern, was built rapidly. Other buildings of this period were the Penal Chapels and the City Courthouse in Bridge Street. 

The Great Famine of 1847 did not affect Limerick to any great extent as a result of the work of charitable organizations and also because the people were not entirely dependent on potatoes. 

Some of the prominent industries providing employment in the 19th Century were those of leather, lace, flour milling, bacon, clothing, tobacco, brewing, papermaking and milk processing. 

In 1950 the city's boundaries were increased to 5, 115 acres and the population is now in the region of 80,000 people (in the greater metro area). 

During the 20th Century, many of the traditional industries ceased trading. These have been replaced by industrial estates catering for large and small concerns. 

The 1980's saw welcome developments in the area of new and renovated buildings such as the refurbishment of the Granary, Michael Street, the Potato Market, Merchant's Quay, the Bishop's Palace, Church Street, King's Island, St. Mary's Cathedral and King John's Castle. Some of the more prominent new buildings are the Civic Offices, Merhant's Quay, the Savoy, Henry Street/Bedford Row and Arthur's Quay Shopping Centre and Patrick Street. 
 

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