King John's Castle was built for King John of England in around 1200 and still stands today as a showpiece of Limerick's Medieval landscape. Located on King's Island, a portion of the city cut off by the River Shannon and River Abbey, it is thought to be one of the best preserved Norman castles in the whole of Europe, making it one of the city's proudest attractions.
The castle isn't, however, all from the 13th century. Between 2011 and 2013 over €5 million was spent on renovating its visitor facilities, adding fun and engaging exhibitions and a brand new cafe. Adults and children alike will be charmed by the fun and informative presentation of the museum at King John's Castle. If you're visiting Limerick, be sure to include it on your itinerary!
The bulk of the castle's rejuvenation was centred around creating a brand new visitor centre, and the result is a fun, informative exhibition explaining the history of the landmark.
Expect 3D models, discovery drawers of artefacts, animations, videos, and interactive exhibits to take you through the Castle's history. Head to the visitor centre first to get to grips with the history before looking round the rest of the castle.
The visitor centre is also great for kids, with opportunities to dress up in traditional costumes, Medieval scenes staged in the courtyard, and scavenger hunts keeping them happy while the adults are looking around (and wishing they could dress up too…).
Many of the other rooms in the castle are also pretty interactive, with areas furnished as they would've been back when the building was in use, and screens with videos of life-sized characters telling you the facts.
Once you're done exploring, head to the cafe (another part of the Castle's renovation) for a cup of tea. Overlooking the courtyard with views of the river, it's a lovely spot for a moment of relaxation.
One of the best features of this castle is that you can climb to the top of its towers to get an amazing view of Limerick. Plus, not only are the towers pretty tall themselves, but the castle is on a hill making the views doubly good.
To get to the top you have to climb up a narrow spiral staircase in one of the stone towers. There aren't loads of stairs so it's not too difficult to do the climb, however the old stone can be a bit uneven, and the passage is very tight which can make reaching the top a bit tricky for some.
April 1st to September 30th
October 1st to March 31st
Admission to King John's Castle
King John's Castle
Ireland V94 FX25