Limerick is the regional center of Limerick County, Munster Province. Almost 50% of its population is under 29, making it an exciting, youthful city. Authorities have a progressive attitude and set education and infrastructure as priorities of development. This has enabled Limerick University and the Limerick Institute of Technology to rank as two of Ireland's top institutes of higher learning.
The region is a major one in terms of its economy and production, third after Dublin and Cork. The main enterprises and institutions contributing to Limerick's status are the University of Limerick, Shannon Airport and Shannon Development. Dell's European headquarters are also in Limerick. Analog Devices' head production facility in Europe is located a few kilometers from the city center, with 1,000 employees working there.
Historical facts indicate that the area where Limerick is currently situated was settled even before 812, which is when the Vikings built a town there. The city was reorganized by the Normans in the 1100s, when they began expanding toward Northwestern Europe. They conquered England in 1066. We can thank the Norman conquerers for a large part of the remarkable architecture in Limerick, like King John's Castle and St Mary's Cathedral. The city had a leading role in the 17th Century civil wars, and was blockaded by Oliver Cromwell in 1651. It recovered by means of trade in the late 1700s, but famine followed, resulting in a collapse. The Limerick City Council functions as the local government, and is led by so-called ward councillors, who elect a mayor every year.
Its architecture is truly something to behold, and makes Limerick truly unique. The tallest church spire in all of Ireland is here at St John's Cathedral. Georgian architecture was dominant after the 19th Century, and survives in the city center to this day. St Mary's Cathedral, built over 800 years ago, is among the first churches in Ireland.
Shoppers are sure to have their best day, week or month (depending on the duration of your visit) in downtown Limerick, which is the central shopping venue. Shopping areas also surround the city, like the Crescent Shopping Center, Jetland and the Castletroy Shopping Center, just a few of the interesting locales to be found.
The Hunt Museum is the most famous in Ireland, and exhibits as many as 2,000 paintings and other works of art. A sketch by Picasso is displayed here, as well as a bronze sculpture reputedly designed by Leonardo da Vinci. Limerick truly has a flourishing art scene. Local playwrights and dramatists find creative outlets at the Belltable Art Center, and the Limerick Art Gallery is the main site for exhibitions of Modern art and holds a collection of Irish paintings created between the 18th and 20th Centuries. The Art Gallery and Art College also provide a means of expression for all types of art, including painting, carving, craft and dance.
The Cranberries and other famous groups have performed in this pleasant city, and the music scene is truly in a state of revival. The University of Limerick has an elegant concert hall seating 1,000 people. This city was also the locale for the bestseller Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt. Finally, we mustn't forget to mention that the witty 5-line poem of the same name originated here.