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Limerick City

LIMERICK CITY a city, county of a city, parliamentary borough, port and the chief town of Co. Limerick, Ireland, occupying both banks and an island (King's Island) of the river Shannon, at the head of its estuary, 129 m. W.S.W. of Dublin by the Great Southern and Western railway. Pop. (1901) 38,151. The situation is striking, for the Shannon is here a broad and noble stream, and the immediately surrounding country consists of the rich lowlands of its valley, while beyond rise the hills of the counties Clare and Tipperary. The city is divided into English Town (on King's Island) , Irish Town and Newtown Pery, the first including the ancient nucleus of the city, and the last the principal modern streets. The main stream of the Shannon is crossed by Thomond Bridge and Sarsfield or Wellesley Bridge. The first is commanded by King John's Castle, on King's Island, a fine Norman fortress fronting the river, and used as barracks. At the west end of the bridge is preserved the Treaty Stone, on which the Treaty of Limerick was signed in 1691. The cathedral of St Mary, also on King's Island, was originally built in 1142- 1180, and exhibits some Early English work, though largely altered at dates subsequent to that period. The Roman Catholic cathedral of St John is a modern building (1860) in early pointed style. The churches of St Munchin (to whom is attributed the foundation of the see in the 6th century) and St John, Whitamore's Castle and a Dominican priory, are other remains of antiquarian interest; while the principal city and county buildings are a chamber of commerce, a custom house commanding the river, and court house, town hall and barracks. A picturesque public park adjoins the railway station in Newtown Pery.

The port is the most important on the west coast, and accommodates vessels of 3000 tons in a floating dock; there is also a graving dock. Communication with the Atlantic is open and secure, while a vast network of inland navigation is opened up i>y a canal avoiding the rapids above the city. Quays extend for about 1600 yds. on each side of the river, and vessels of 600 tons can moor alongside at spring tides. The principal imports are grain, sugar, timber and coal. The exports consist mainly of agricultural produce. The principal industrial establishments include flour-mills (Limerick supplying most of the west of Ireland with flour), factories for bacon-curing and for condensed milk and creameries. Some brewing, distilling and tanning are carried on, and the manufacture of very beautiful lace is maintained at the Convent of the Good Shepherd; but a formerly important textile industry has lapsed. The salmon fisheries of the Shannon, for which Limerick is the headquarters of a district, are the most valuable in Ireland. The city is governed by a corporation, and the parliamentary borough returns one member.

Limerick is said to have been the Rcgia of Ptolemy and the Rosse-de-Nattleagh of the Annals of Multifernan. There is a tradition that it was visited by St Patrick in the 5th century, but it is first authentically known as a settlement of the Danes, who sacked it in 81 2 and afterwards made it the principal town of their kingdom of Limerick, but were expelled from it towards the close of the 1cth century by Brian Boroimhe. From 1106 till its conquest by the English in 1174 it was the seat of the kings of Thomond or North Munster, and, although in 1179 the kingdom of Limerick was given by Henry II. to Herbert Fitzherbert, the city was frequently in the possession of the Irish chieftains till 1195. Richard I. granted it a charter in 1197. By King John it was committed to the care of William de Burgo, who founded English Town, and for its defence erected a strong castle. The city was frequently besieged in the 13th and 14th centuries. In the 15th century its fortifications were extended to include Irish Town, and until their demolition in 1760 it was one of the strongest fortresses of the kingdom. In 1651 it was taken by General Ireton, and after an unsuccessful siege by William III. in 1690 its resistance was terminated on the 3rd of October of the following year by the treaty of Limerick. The dismantling of its fortifications began in 1760, but fragments of the old walls remain. The original municipal rights of the city had been confirmed and extended by a succession of sovereigns, and in 1609 it received a charter constituting it a county of a city, and also incorporating a society of merchants of the staple, with the same privileges as the merchants of the staple of Dublin and Waterford. The powers of the corporation were remodelled by the Limerick Regulation Act of 1823. The prosperity of the city dates chiefly from the foundation of Newtown Pery in 1769 by Edmund Sexton Pery (d. 1806), speaker of the Irish House of Commons, whose family subsequently received the title of the earldom of Limerick. Under the Local Government Act of 1898 Limerick became one of the six county boroughs having a separate county council.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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