King John's Castle, Limerick
King John’s Castle Visitor Experience
Have fun exploring King John’s Castle, enjoy magnificent views and imagine a Norman soldier’s life in this medieval fortress. Reach out and touch the past through a wide range of new technologies and specialist multimedia techniques. Join in the living interpretation and re-enactment with costumed guides who reveal the secrets and scandals of castle life.
Interesting facts about King John’s Castle
King John was the brother of Richard the Lionheart, associated with legends such as Robin Hood and the Knights’ of the Round Table. John, Lord of Ireland, though not as popular as his brother, was a formidable force in battle and when he set about claiming territory in Ireland, he certainly made his mark in Limerick.
Not only was the site used for defensive purposes, King John, as “Lord of Ireland” minted his own coins and the Royal moneyer would have struck the coins in the Castle mint. Before 1200 there were large earthen defences erected on high ground to defend the river crossing. Between 1200 and 1212 King John’s Castle was planned and built. In the following centuries it was repaired and extended many times.
In 1642 the Great Siege devastated Limerick and the castle. Siege mines weakened the front wall (East curtain wall) of the castle and counter-siege mines carried out during the later and subsequent sieges. To date over 1,000 objects were excavated including skeletal remains of the siege period. You can view the remains of a medieval garrison and soldiers quarters recently discovered close to the sallyport area of the castle.
A number of houses believed to be Viking in origin were unearthed during earlier restoration of the castle are also worth seeing. Between 1690 and 1691 the Williamite sieges led to the signing of the Treaty of Limerick. You can clearly view the Treaty Stone, said to be the site of the signing of the document on the far shore of the river from the battlements of the castle.
The Pre-Norman features discovered are both defensive and settlement. Extensive evidence of an early defense system and of a strong earthen rampart, held together with limestone boulders and protected by a deep ditch, show that King John’s Castle was built on an existing fortification.
King John’s Castle retains many of the pioneering features, which made its construction unique for the day. Its massive gate house, battlements and corner towers await your exploration while the armoury and its contents remain as evidence of its turbulent history.