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Introducing Limerick City

Limerick city straddles the Shannon's broadening tidal stream, where the river swings west to join the Shannon Estuary. Following its tough past as portrayed in Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes, its medieval and Georgian architecture received a glitzy, glossy makeover during the Celtic Tiger era, but the economic downturn has hit the city hard, as evidenced by extensive empty properties and drum-tight security shutters.

The city is rejuvenating again, however. Limerick has been chosen as the country's first-ever Irish City of Culture in 2014 (a designation to be awarded to an Irish city for 12 months every two years), with a packed program of arts, cultural and sporting events. It also has an intriguing, newly renovated castle, a lively art museum and contemporary cafe culture, to go with its uncompromised pubs, as well as locals who go out of their way to welcome you.

The city is compact enough to get around on foot or by bike. To walk across town from St Mary's Cathedral to the train station takes about 15 minutes.