Limerick City

November 28, 2014 – Do you remember when you had to stand in long ticket lines to order and pick up tickets for that early train ride that you had to wake up at 5:30 to catch? Yeah, we don’t either. We’ve always used online ordering and automated pick up machines to get our tickets, and today was no exception.

Early Morning Bus Stop
Many signs are in both English and Irish. The first line probably reads something like “Why are you up so early?”

(Louisa here) Our plan was to catch a bus over to the Heuston station.  We got to the bus stop with plenty of time to spare, and enjoyed a pastry from Spar while we waited for the 7:14 departure.  People wave the bus down by sticking out their arm, since each stop is serviced by multiple double-decker buses.  The drivers also take off rather quickly, so make sure you hold on.

If you time it right, you can use the momentum from the bus stopping to whisk yourself to the upper deck.
If you time it right, you can use the momentum from a stopping bus to whisk yourself to the upper deck.

(Tony again) I don’t think Louisa conveys just how important it is to hold on when boarding the bus. Remember that scene in Spaceballs where Dark Helmet takes Spaceball One to Ludicrous Speed? (Go ahead and watch, we’ll wait.) Yeah, it’s kind of like that. You don’t want to be the one flying to the back of the bus because you didn’t hang on. Stopping is the same concept. They must have forged those brake pads from unicorn dust, because their stopping power is magical.

Most of the Intercity trains that we rode had electronic seat reservations.
Most of the Intercity trains that we rode had electronic seat reservations.

Once we were at the station we got some tea and pastries, and settled in to wait for our train.  After a nice ride with one stop (where the trains wait for all other trains to show up and exchange passengers), we found ourselves in Limerick. One nice thing about ordering tickets online, besides the lower price for reserving early is that you can also reserve specific seats on the train. You may not know which direction the car is facing, but you will have seats together.

We saw the first glimpse of sunlight on the way to Limerick.
We saw the first glimpse of sunlight on the way to Limerick.

Once in Limerick, we wasted no time in walking through city center to the River Shannon. Our first destination was Saint Mary’s Cathedral, where we saw many traditional Celtic Cross headstones in addition to the cathedral itself. If you tour the cathedral, you’ll be able to read about its history while checking out the bright stained-glass windows.

Saint Mary's Cathedral has the longest stone high altar on the island.
Saint Mary’s Cathedral has the longest stone high altar on the island.

Our next stop was King John’s Castle, about a block or two from the cathedral.  I didn’t have a SIM card yet, so we took the long way around to access the free WiFi offered at the City Council building. We also discovered that the city council building had some interesting artwork, because we could see it from the window where I was picking up the WiFi signal.

The grin is because I found a public WiFi network.
The grin is because I found a public WiFi network. The artwork is behind me just outside the frame.

The castle and visitor center is wonderful opportunity to learn about the history of Limerick, and see a well-preserved castle that was originally built in the 13th century.  We thought that the new visitor center had a good mix of text and interactive displays, and also had some games for the kids. Protip: Don’t aim the cannon too high to overcompensate for the fact that your first shot was way too low. The cannonballs will leave the exhibit and fly through the rest of the level, dumbfounding your wife. For the castle itself, there were a few tower viewpoints and some archaeological exhibits that highlight different times during the castle’s history. There was also an awesome cat roaming the castle, probably belonging to one of the neighboring houses.

The views from the tower are not to be missed.
The views from the tower are not to be missed.

All of this exploration requires food and ale, so we made our way to Locke Bar & Oyster House for a late lunch. Originally, I ordered the Fish and Chips and Louisa ordered the Irish Lamb Stew. Apparently, I was feeling lamb more than Louisa, so we made a swap and were happier. I don’t think you can go wrong with either dish, and they were made all the more enjoyable with a pint of Guinness. (See, I told you we’d get our fill in on the trip!)

The pub was right off the River Abbey.
The pub was right off the River Abbey.

We didn’t have too much time left in town after lunch, so we made our way back to the train station via a couple parks and a Meteor store for a local SIM card. After doing some research, I found that Meteor had the best plan for “Pay as You Go” with a decent amount of data so I went with it. It was a pretty quick process, and the data plan was up and running with in 45 minutes of leaving the store. Coverage was decent in the cities as well, so I will probably go with them for future trips to Ireland.

We also caught sunset from the train.
We also caught sunset from the train.

After taking the train ride back to Dublin, we paid O’Sheas Merchant pub a visit for dinner and ale.  This time, both of us got Steak and Onion pies and a pint of Smithwicks. It was on the early side, so we didn’t really catch any live music during the meal, but the food was excellent. After dinner, we caught a bus back to the hotel to prepare for another early morning.

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