Places to visit in Europe

King John's Castle

King John's Castle stands on King's Island, dominating the Medieval quarter of Limerick City. It was built to protect the river crossing just above the Shannon estuary as part of a strategy to control Ireland.

This royal fortification with massive gatehouse, courtyard, curtain walls and corner towers - all state-of-the-art features in the early 13th century - has a truly international past. It has, at various times in its history, housed Irish Celts, Englishmen, Hugeunots and Palatines. The various stages in the Castle’s history can best be seen at the following points: In the undercroft of the entrance to the bridge are the archaeological remains of pre-Norman houses and mine shafts from 17th century sieges. A recently-added glass entrance hall enables these to be seen, whilst ensuring their preservation. In the foyer, an audio-visual display demonstrates the pivotal role the castle played in Medieval times, and visitors are introduced to all those who contributed to building it - the Irish chieftains, the Angevins and King John. In the Great Hall, visitors can hear, touch, smell, and participate in a Medieval banquet. A tented village in the courtyard presents other aspects of Medieval life and activity. The castellated wallwalks and intermural passages allow visitors to experience first-hand the strength of this keepless fortress. Inside the Mint tower, the Royal moneyer struck coins used by King John, and in the south-west tower the story of the dramatic sieges of the late 17th century is told using special sound and lighting effects.

Preparatory visit for teachers. Information available in French, German, Spanish, Italian and English. The castle is open to the needs of teachers and can provide an Education Officer, classroom facilities, guided tours and active workshops on request. Topics which can be prepared in the classroom include the Viking raids on Ireland, the Norman and Angevin knights of the 12th and 13th centuries, the Williamite and Jacobite wars of the 17th century, castle warfare and sieges, pageantry and Medieval minting techniques, and the Wild Geese. The Castle and the Cathedral situated in the centre of town display Romanesque and Gothic features comparable to those which can be seen in other parts of Europe. Exhibitions relating to the history of Limerick and Ireland are organised on a regular basis. Further information on exhibitions can be requested by telephone.

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