BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE OF PLAN
The purpose of the Limerick City Walls Conservation and Management Plan (CMP) is to assist City Council and other parties responsible for Limerick City Walls in formulating, planning and implementing the continued conservation and management of this unique monument into the future. The project team reported to a steering committee, which comprised members of City Council, private owners, academics and other stakeholders. Funding was generously provided by The Heritage Council and Limerick City Council.
The archaeology, ecology and the current state of repair of the walls were systematically recorded in the field. This information formed the baseline data on which the Plan is based. Interested parties including the public were consulted as part of the process. A review of all information on the City Walls was undertaken which included old maps, histories, articles, old photographs, postcards and records of excavated material relating to the Walls.
Limerick is an ancient foundation with origins in the Viking period, in the tenth century, on King’s Island near the confluence of the Shannon and Abbey rivers. There is no archaeological evidence for the Viking enclosure of Limerick, but it is likely that the Viking town was enclosed, probably by an earthen bank-and-ditch construction, complete with palisade, like other Viking towns. As the Vikings settled and mingled with the locals, Limerick became the premier Hiberno-Norse town in the region. In 1197 Limerick became a City, receiving a charter from the King after being taken over by the Anglo-Normans. King John’s castle was begun c.1200, itself an important part of the city’s defences, and by the mid thirteenth century the Englishtown on King’s Island would have been enclosed by a stone curtain wall, which was later expanded to the east. Later, the Irish town grew up - it too enclosed by a wall. The twin towns were linked by Ball’s Bridge. The City Wall, while important in the medieval period for protection and prestige, became crucial in the sieges of the seventeenth century and was upgraded around its perimeter at that time, particularly in the Irishtown, to delay the besiegers. Sometime after the ravages of the sieges, the City began again to prosper and expand beyond the limits of its walls and so they went into decline.
There are twenty-four stretches of the City Walls. Of these, thirteenth have above-ground visible remains (see map image). This includes the western curtain wall of King John’s Castle, which was a crucial part of the City Wall defences (cover image). These stretches are in various states of preservation, from very good through to very poor. While the stretches are now visible as individual sections, it is important to remember that they were once part of a single monument protecting and identifying Limerick City. These walls are of national significance and include some features of international significance on account of their long and unique history.
In acknowledgement of the significance of Limerick City Walls, it has become a priority to conserve and maintain them for future generations in a sustainable manner. In order to achieve this, the CMP has listed objectives:
- Maintain, improve and enhance all values of Limerick City Walls
- Provide security, repair, conservation, maintenance, access and interpretation of the walls
- Establish “new uses” that enhance economy and social well being of the local community
- Encourage and maintain community involvement and “ownership” of the walls
- Ensure all works are carried out to the highest standards.
The CMP has recommended conservation policies and management requirements to ensure that the importance of Limerick City Walls is protected and maintained into the future.
The CMP has been ratified by Limerick City Council and it has formed a dedicated Limerick City Walls Committee to implement the Plan on a phased basis, the first phase of which is already in motion. This committee will serve as a single-point-of-contact for issues relating to the City Walls.