Travel Tales: Limerick

March 17, 2008
by findingDulcinea Staff
As a child, my experience of Ireland wasn’t so much about visiting castles or carousing all night in a crowded pub with a pint of Guinness and a rugby match on the “telly”—that would come later.  Back then, it was simply time to be with family.  My granny had six daughters, one son and 21 grandchildren.  Only my mother and one sister had moved to the States, so visiting Ireland meant a few weeks’ playtime with a gaggle of children, a few teenagers and six harried-looking mothers who laughed off their exhaustion.

Speaking the Language

As far as my siblings and I were concerned, they spoke a different language over there, but we were learning to translate.  My aunts would often refer to some cousin’s whereabouts saying, “She’s down below.”  This meant someone was in town, at the shop, at school or at church.  “Sound” meant good. “Bold” was bad. “Cop on” meant behave. “Lads” meant kids.  My cousins laughed hysterically when I said “you guys.”  They repeated the phrase in a nasally voice—try pinching your own nose as you say it. 
The phrase “your man” took a few repetitions before I understood it, having nothing to do with “you” or “your.” My aunt was telling my mother a story about a mugging where “your man” asked for directions, then took off with a lady’s purse as she was pointing down the street. At first, I tried to sort out if “her man” was my father, or my brother (though hardly a man) or if my mother had a second husband in Ireland. Finally I realized it simply meant “this guy.”

My granny, my brother and my sister, outside one of Limerick’s thatch cottages

Off to Limerick

While King John’s Castle, St. Mary’s Cathedral, The Hunt Museum and the Treaty Stone, where the Treaty of Limerick was signed, may be the primary tourist attractions, don’t miss out on other activities. Frank McCourt’s devotees can take a walking tour highlighting key landmarks from his book, “Angela’s Ashes.” Families can pack a picnic to Cratloe Woods, and then let their children amble through its obstacle course. I can personally vouch for the obstacle course; while it may seem unimpressive to adults, it’s an absolute treasure for children.

My cousins and me making up our own sport: basketball with a socerball

Day Trips

Adare Heritage Centre is devoted to Adare, a town known as the prettiest village in Ireland. The Norman Castle is only one of the town’s attractions (open from July through the end of October). Though the site content is spare, you’ll find links to Web sites for lodging, restaurants and activities in the area.
Shannon Firth
Guides Writer

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