Limerick is located between 52o17and 52o45 north latitude and 8o10’ and 9o22’ west longitude. It is almost rectangular in shape, bounded on the north by the Shannon river, on the west by Kerry, on the south by Cork and on the east by Tipperary. It occupies 2,686 sq. kms and has a total population of 191,809 (2011 census). In addition to Limerick city, its main population centres are Abbeyfeale, Kilmallock, Newcastle West and Rathkeale. Topographically it consists of a mountain/hill region running in a broken circle around the borders of the county with a lowland region occupying the central and eastern areas and an alluvial region bordering the main rivers, Shannon, Maigue, Deel and Feale. The mountainous Galtee region of the East was formed from Old Red Sandstone while carboniferous limestone forms the extensive central lowland plain, punctuated by a few narrow ridges of Old Red Sandstone, and the uplands on the west and south-west. Volcanic basins are also clearly defined with a prominent plateau of millstone grit in the east.

Until recently there were separate local authorities for the County and the City. The motto of the County was Cuimhnigh ar Luimneach based on the reputed battle cry of the Irish Brigades (the Wild Geese) who left to join the French army after the Treaty of Limerick in 1691. The coat of arms has a green field or background with three wavy white bands signify the streams of milk flowing from the fertile fields of the Golden Vale of Limerick. Superimposed on this is a gold cross in a ring, a design from the Ardagh chalice. Patrick Sarsfield forms the crest surmounting the arms. The city motto was Urbs Antique Fuit Studiisque Asperrima Belli, borrowed from the description of Cathage in Vergil’s Aeneid as an ancient city well studied in the arts of war while its Arms are argent, a castle, triple-towered, proper, thecentre tower of a conical shape and terminated with a cross, the portcullis at the entrance to the Castle elevated on a red background.



There is no agreement among scholars as to the precise meaning of the name Limerick though ‘bare or barren place’ seems the most likely one which given the rich fertile land of the county seems rather strange, even perverse. It may have referred originally to the area of the Shannon estuary, which would fit that description particularly where the city grew up. It was established by the Vikings in the early tenth century though they have been active in the area for the previous century. Human settlement however long predated that event.


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