By chance or perhaps an ancient ancestor guided our lodging choices, but either way, we stayed at the Absolute Hotel on St. Harry’s Mall Road on the river. With outstanding views and friendly service, the location was perfect because Thom’s grandmother lived directly across the street in the early 1900’s before coming to America. His grandfather, Patrick O’Dwyer, rowed at the Athlunkard Rowing Club during this same time. Stopping by, kind gent John who is renovating the very neglected rowing facility, let Thom go through plastic bins of old pictures looking for Patrick. He found him! 1903 was a very good rowing year for Patrick and the club, winning 5 awards.
Thom was thrilled to find Patrick and his team pictured with their trophies. Hopefully, the club will preserve these crumbling photo galleries for posterity. Also in the Medieval Quarter, St. Mary’s Parish is where Thom’s grandparents were baptized and his great grandparents were married. After talking to the church administrator to get some ancestry paperwork for a possible Irish citizenship for Thom, we imagined his grandparents’ life living across the street, rowing at the nearby club and what that might have felt like. There is also a St. Mary’s Cathedral down the street which is much grander and worth a look as well.
With a break in the rain, we walked the waterfront past King John’s Castle, which was neglected in the past and, in the 1950’s, was the site for a public housing project but it has now been renovated and is a big tourist draw for Limerick. It was early morning when we did our adventure around town so unfortunately we didn’t go inside but crossed the Thomand Bridge past the Treaty Stone and along Clancy Street all the way to the Sarsfield Bridge and into town where you’ll likely see many a modern store next to a medieval stone arch. In the midst of all the pubs and shops is the quaint St. John’s church with a cemetery that is showing signs of neglect but is awash in history. After reading some tomb stones, we got just a little bit lost but eventually headed in the right direction to our hotel. Along the way, we discovered the Milk Market which unfortunately wasn’t open during the week when we visited but it looks like it would be worth a look if you visit on Saturday or Sunday with food and local artisans showing their wares under the big white tent.
The previous night we were lucky to meet up with Thom’s Irish family, connecting for the first time, exchanging photographs and family stories. It was lovely to meet everyone and we plan to stay in touch via social media. Thom and I hope to bring our whole family over for a proper Irish reunion in the future.