Visit King Johns Castle in Limerick

Visit King Johns Castle in Limerick

King Johns Castle Limerick 2
Photo via Canva


King Johns Castle was designed and built as a stronghold to protect and defend with features of a barracks included in the design. Thomond bridge was built to replace an old bridge that is linked to King Johns Castle. The building has many nice features.

The large stone building has no big windows and this shows a major difference from other castles that have large windows. There are arrow loops which are small slits in the walls, these arrow loops offered great defence against flying arrows from crossbows in medieval times.

During the 1300s, the round tower became very popular because of there advantages and offered much greater protection from attacks. King Johns Castle has 4 large barrel towers, two of these massive towers face the river Shannon and are located on the river’s edge for maximum protection from attacks coming from ships and boats.

These towers are linked with four massive stone curtain walls. These walls are adjacent to the River Shannon to protect and defend from attacks. The design and location of King John’s castles were very clever design and a huge project at the time when it was built.

Check out this article on 2 days in Limerick with some cool stuff to see and do!

The section of the building on the riverside was built on limestone rock and offered maximum protection. The large walls and towers were brilliant vantage areas to rain hell with sharp arrows on boats travelling up the River Shannon.

Soldiers lived in timber style accommodation that was built in the courtyard section of King Johns Castle. The medieval structure does not have a chamber or keepers tower like many other castles from this period.

Check out my drone video here of King’s Johns Castle here!!!

kings johns castle towers
Photo via All Things Ireland

During the time of the Angelo Norman invasion of Ireland, Dublin, Limerick and Waterford had Viking settlements. The position of Limerick meant that it was important because it was located on the largest river in Ireland.

The Normans came to Limerick in 1172 and established themselves in the area, and quickly begin to build and improve large fortifications. Two areas developed in the 13th century, these areas were known as “Irish town” and “English town”. These areas were divided by large stone walls. The Irish town was occupied by Gaelic and Hiberno Norse and Irish Vikings.

The bridge linking to the castle is called Thomand bridge, this bridge dates back to 1185 and has had a lot of work done to it over the years. The bridge has been rebuilt a number of times. The bridge is on the site of the old bridge and was once was the only bridge available to cross the River Shannon. The bridge has 14 arches.

toll gatehouse king johns castle limerick
Photo via All Things Ireland

The modern Thomand bridge was built in 1840 and was designed by the Pain brothers. The Pain brothers designed many other nice buildings in Limerick including the Custom house. Thomand bridge gatehouse (Toll House) is just across from King Johns castle and set on the end of Thomand bridge.

In 2017 there was a World War One grenade found beneath Thomond bridge. Thomand bridge collapsed in the year 1298 and this collapse caused the death of 80 people.

The toll gatehouse is of Gothic design and was built in 1836. the house has a Gothic feel and features a pointed door arch limestone plaque with the city’s heraldic emblem. The toll house has been restored over the years and features a one-bedroom house inside the cool old building.

Tourist Attraction

King Johns Castle Visitor Centre
Photo via All Things Ireland

King Johns Castle nowadays is turned into a fanatic visitor centre and major tourist attraction. The castle has been developed over the years and has seen some investment into the visitor centre and attractions in the centre. The visitor centre features some cool 3D models and audiovisual displays and some information panels combined to reveal the history of the castle.

Visitors can put on some historic costumes to give a feel of the old medieval periods. There really is something for everyone and all ages in King Johns Castle. When attending the visitor centre part of your journey will involve meeting Nicholas who is a master mason. You will meet constable Roger De Lees and William Moneyer in the interactive displays.

In the courtyard area, you will get a feel for the busy activity that once took place in the castle. There is a blacksmiths workshop on display with a large set of blacksmith tools and different kinds of weapons. You will see the gatehouse which was involved in getting delivers of foods and different items.

King Johns Castle and Thomond Bridge
Photo via Canva

There are some siege shelters in the courtyard area and some remains of the great hall of King Johns Castle which was built in 1280. There is a chapel on-site to explore on the castle grounds.

The cool interactive displays of King Johns Castle visitor centre are some of the best you will see.

The interactive displays bring 800 years of history to life in a modern touch screen feel. These interactive displays connect you back to the old days of the castle and surrounding areas. There is some cool computer animation and including CGI animations. A highlight is an eighteen-century dress called a chainmail tunic.

The site is operated by Shannon Heritage who managed and own a number of tourist sites and attractions. There were 7.4 million euros spent on revamp of the Castle and visitor centre a few years back and this added to the visitor experience. The aim of the redevelopment was to improve the visitor experience and attract more visitors to the site.

Music Venue

New events at King Johns Castle has brought new life to the castle through Live concerts at the Castle. The tourist attraction has become Limerick’s newest music venue with large acts like Gavin James and Imelda May and Hermitage Green have played on stage in the courtyard area. The site offers a unique concert experience and has got some good reviews about gigs there.

The visitor centre is very popular with school groups and school tours. Many visitors from all over the world attend the visitor centre every year. Visitor numbers are quite good at this super cool tourist attraction with numbers increasing a lot in recent years and over 100,000 people have visited the castle some years. You can book tickets online.

Ticket prices for Visitor Centre

Adults 11.70 euros
Child 4 to 18 years old 8.55
Child 0 to 3 years old0.00 Free
Senior/ Student 9.50
Family Ticket 2 Adults and 2 Children31.95
Family Ticket 2 Adults up to 6 Children 49.00
King Johns Castle Towers
Photo via Canva

The entrance to the visitor centre is on Nicholas street in Limerick city and is around a 10-minute walk from O Connell street in the city centre. Car parking is across from the castle and is FREE of charge, the car park is a 2-minute walk from the castle. There are a number of Irish pubs and a craft beer brewery on Nicholas Street.

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John C

All Things Ireland

John C

Hey, my name is John Conway and I love travelling around Ireland. I have a passion for All Things Ireland. I love the Emerald Isle! I love Guinness and green fields!

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