King John’s Castle is an imposing castle built in the city of Limerick on King’s Island, a small island in the city centre. Built on the banks of the River Shannon, the fortress welcomes thousands of visitors every year who come to discover the medieval times of the Irish period. The visit is quite nice to do, and will delight young and old alike…
Prior to the construction of King John’s Castle, there was a first fortress, built by Viking Chief Thormodr Helgason in 922. At that time, the Vikings of Limerick were living at the rhythm of looting monasteries and sacking surrounding villages.
In 937, a terrible war took place between the Limerick Vikings and the people of Dublin. This conflict lasted until 943, when the Limerick Vikings had to accept their defeat and bow to the Irish clans led by the famous King Brian Boru. The Vikings were then forced to retreat.
It was in 1172 that everything changed when the Anglo-Normans landed. They soon coveted the city of Limerick, and decided to take it by force by burning it in 1174. It was not until 1195 that they finally managed to take it, under the reign of King John (named John in French), Lord of the Kingdom of Ireland.
Extensive reconstruction of the town was then carried out, and the construction of a castle was ordered by King John himself in 1200. This castle is the one we know today, and bears the name of the king himself.
The castle was occupied in 1642 by Protestants fleeing the Irish rebellion of 1641, and was then besieged by the Irish Confederate forces, who abused the state of the castle by digging the foundations of the fortress, and by mutilating the ramparts with projectiles…
Visit King John’s Castle
A complete tour from the courtyard to the banquet rooms
King John’s castle can be visited in its entirety. A Vistor Centre is at your disposal to pay your entrance ticket (8€ per person). You will then have the opportunity to discover the castle grounds, and to admire the fabulous carved stone ramparts, its stone bridges and its arches…
You will also be able to note, the state of the walls of the castle, which were largely damaged following the siege of Limerick in 1642, one of the first sieges suffered by the city. (Limerick suffered more than 5 sieges during the whole of the 17th century).
There are a number of period houses around here and there. These are narrow and square, built in the manner of the fortified towers of the time.
Allow about an hour and a half for the duration of the visit … You can then, if you wish, combine the visit in the shops of the Visitor Centre to bring back souvenirs of this medieval visit…
Monday to Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:20 p.m.