House to rent in Ireland: Limerick. Sleeps up to 10.
Limerick City, founded by the Vikings in the 9th century, has always deserved attention in its own right. But it has to be said that it was Angela's Ashes, by Frank McCourt, that has been largely responsible for putting it on the map today.
The grinding hunger, poverty, social exclusion and snobbery of the Limerick he knew then have long since disappeared. But you can walk the same streets, see many of the same buildings and breathe the same air that inspired him. The street where he lived - Windmill Street - is right next door. What was his primary school - St Vincent de Paul - is across the road and the building that housed his secondary school - Leamy's (the name is still on the wall) -is around the corner in Harstonge Street. You are, in every sense, at the heart of Angela's Ashes. No need for the guided tour!
Architecturally Limerick is a fascinating city. Some of the finest Georgian houses are to be found there. Or take a trip back to Norman times with King John's Castle whose wall, towers and fortifications are still firmly in place. Stand on the battlements and survey the wide, majestic sweep of the Shannon river. Then call into St Mary's Cathedral (virtually next door to the castle) founded by the king of Munster in 1168. See the Lepers' Squint (a slit in the stone wall to allow lepers to observe the service) and the magnificent mediaeval altar, the biggest and heaviest in the British isles.
Visit the Hunt Museum with its fine collection of masterpieces by Renoir, Da Vinci, Picasso, Gaugin and Yeats. For wining, dining and general entertainmernt(the 'craic') the city is difficult to beat. Two minutes from the house is Dolan's pub where there is excellent food, drink and live Irish music every night. Wander down O'Connell St and you will find more fine restaurants and pubs than you can possibly have time to visit. For cultural treats visit the Belltable Theatre in O'Connell St or the new University Concert Hall - the first purpose built concert hall in Ireland, with state of the art variable acoustics!
The Limerick Region: Limerick, just 20 minutes drive from Shannon airport, is the perfect location for exploring the south and west of Ireland. A short drive takes you to the seaside resorts of Kilkee, Lahinch, Ballibunion and Spanish Point.
Closer still enjoy the watersports on the river at Killaloe or visit the Norman castle at Bunratty, with its folk village and mediaeval banquets. At the banquets, held most evenings, you can savour authentic mediaeval cuisine washed down with mead, while you are entertained by traditional Irish harpists, singers and story tellers. Next to the castle is the now legendary pub, Durty Nelly's, where the guinness flows and live Irish music can be heard most days.
Further afield lies the city of Galway and the wild, craggy landscape of Connemara. From there you can take a 10 minute Islander plane hop to the Aran Islands (the last stop before America!) and visit the prehistoric fort of Dun Angusa.
Or travel south west to the stunning mountain scenery of Kerry, the sparkling Lakes of Killarney and the breathtaking Ring of Kerry itself, all just a few hours drive away. Just 30 miles from Limerick is the magnificent Glin Castle, home to the Knights of Glin since the 14th century.
At Ballyneety visit the Lough Gur Stone Age Centre where life as it was 5000 years ago is recreated by the lakeside. See the homes, burial places, artefacts and tools of these early inhabitants of Ireland. The Grange Stone Circle on the site is the best example of its kind in the country.
At nearby Newcastle West call into the mediaeval banqueting hall of the earls of Desmond (Desmond Hall) with its carefully restored musicians' gallery and hooded limestone fireplace.
For something entirely different, visit the nearby village of Adare (the prettiest village in Ireland!) with its rows of delightful thatched cottages, curious little tea rooms and shops. Watch your head as you go in!