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One of the best preserved Norman castles in Europe, King John’s Castle stands as a fascinating and impressive monument to the turbulent history of Ireland in general, and Limerick in particular.
The castle stands on King’s Island in the heart of medieval Limerick city. The castle was completed in 1210 and bears the name of its Anglo-Norman founder, King John, Lord of Ireland and brother of Richard the Lionheart. King John ordered the castle built in order to protect Limerick from Gaelic kingdoms to the west and from rebellion by Norman lords to the east and south.
As trade flourished, Limerick prospered. The city’s fortunes changed, however, when the castle was occupied by Protestants fleeing the Irish Rebellion of 1641. The castle and city came under siege by an Irish Confederate force that undermined the castle walls and caused major structural damage.
Today, King John’s Castle is an imposing sight, and sure to fire the imagination of anyone with an interest in history. After a multimillion euro investment, it reopened in June 2013 with a host of attractions that bring 800 years of history vividly to life.
At the brand new Visitors’ Centre you can reach out and connect with the past through a wide range of multimedia exhibits that use touchscreen technology, computer-generated animations and ghostly projections to recreate bygone eras.
The bustling courtyard is filled with evocative sights and sounds: a medieval campaign tent, a blacksmith’s forge, re-enactments of scenes from the Great Siege and costumed guides who reveal the secrets and scandals of castle life.
King John’s Castle is a magnificent fortress at the heart of a magnificent city, a place where you can take a trip into the past you won’t soon forget.