Limerick has come a long way in a short space of time. It needs saying often in order for us to appreciate that. Not so long ago we had to get on the defensive and fight that ‘bad reputation’. Now the conversation is finally moving forward. Today, national and even international media are discussing the city as a serious contender for international investment, and the potential to become Ireland’s second city, not to mention the hard work of the arts and cultural community coming to fruition with City of Culture 2014 and a closely run contest for European City of Culture 2020. Limerick has built the foundations of a reputation to be proud of. Now, facing into a new year, Limerick is a fantastic, thriving city alive with culture on the brink of something extraordinary.
The effort that has been put into Limerick in recent years by its people are starting to reap results. Refurbishments on run down buildings around the city have made a vast improvement, taking away the unloved look that Limerick had going on for many years. And with plans for further refurbishments set for this year and years to come, things can only get better. It feels like action really is starting to catch up with the talk – just last month we saw the Opera Centre and Hanging Gardens projects, two major inner city developments, take a big step forward with a contractor appointed to start the works. Both buildings have been empty for many years and over time have become something of an eyesore. However, both projects are a very exciting prospect for the city both economically and otherwise, hopefully set to attract a lot of footfall to the city from surrounding areas. This improvement to the city is sure to put Limerick on the same level as its counterparts of Galway, Cork and Dublin.
The fact that the government has started taking more of an interest in the city will really stand to us going forward, but long before now the people of Limerick have been putting their efforts into the city themselves. That community spirit of is slowly but surely being built back up with family-oriented events organised throughout the calendar year.
Walking around the city today is a very different experience than 10 or even 5 years ago. The vibe of Limerick has totally changed with an altogether rich and vibrant buzz to be felt whether you are shopping for the day, going for something to eat or even just commuting to work. Across the city there are things to do and see that, as the third largest city in Ireland, Limerick was desperately in need of for many years in comparison to cities such as Cork and Galway. Even just the simple addition of the Urban Garden on lower O’Connell Street has added such a pop of colour and has become a stand-out part of the city, including some fantastic foodie spots such as a Mexican food stall.
The dedication to Limerick’s cultural endeavours is blatant and, perhaps, the most important part of this is the engagement of the people. With events and ongoing projects being organised in the last year such as the relaunch of the renowned Belltable being one of the highlights, there is so much to attract people from all around the city and county to join in the celebration of the arts. The culture of Limerick was, for many years, an aspect of the city that felt disconnected, as if we had lost touch with our amazing potential and achievements. Nonetheless, Limerick’s culture has truly become the backbone of the city in recent years, creating an inclusive and diverse environment. The Richard Harris Film Festival is a perfect example of that, celebrating the life and works of a great Limerick man who left a legacy behind him. The festival will celebrate its fifth year running later this year and is a superb and glamorous testament to Limerick and its cultural accomplishments to date. In addition to this, the building of Troy Studios on the outskirts of the city is a fantastic and exciting extension to the City of Culture and is something to keep your eye on and is bound to produce a fantastic array of productions that Limerick can proudly put its stamp on.
The promotion of healthy living and clean eating is something that continues to grow in the city with each passing year and is sure to become an even bigger aspect of the city in the future. The opening of restaurants putting out such a message is something that is both equally exciting and admirable. More effort is being put into providing the people of Limerick with diverse, healthier food options at an affordable and delicious level. Aroi Asian Street food is, quite possibly, one of the best restaurants in Limerick to provide you with fantastic quality and delicious food that has all the feel of being fast food, allowing you to enjoy a nutritious meal without even thinking twice. Of course, there is also The Grove that has been a long-standing testament to healthy eating, having been in Limerick for almost 30 years.
The Great Limerick Run is also something that is adding a great sense of inclusion towards a healthier future for Limerick. Every year the event gets bigger and bigger, gathering more attention as it goes and gaining more participants each time around. All of these things will combine to create a healthier Limerick overall and sets up the foundation towards a future of health and well-being as being the norm. Limerick is on the right track in 2017 to changing this mentality, something that is, indeed, very exciting.
Overall, 2017 is set to be the start of a whole new era for Limerick in every aspect and is sure to continue from there, making improvements and slowly but surely allowing Limerick to show itself to the rest of the country at its full potential, shaking off the tired old stereotype of the past for good and making way for the future.
Article by: Ali Molloy
Photography by: Tarmo Tulit
Sign up to the TLM Newsletter