FORMER Mayor of Limerick John Gilligan has backed a call to rename King John’s Castle as Limerick Castle.
And ahead of the millennium of the Battle of Clontarf, Cllr Gilligan has said Brian Boru’s links to the city should also be commemorated.
Outgoing head of history at Mary Immaculate College Liam Irwin said last week that Shannon Development would find it easier to promote King John’s as Limerick Castle. What is more, this would be more historically accurate. Mr Irwin explained that the first written reference to the castle as King John’s dates back to 1837 while earlier annals refer to it either as Limerick Castle or the King’s Castle. King John himself, Mr Irwin said, had never set foot in Limerick.
Wishing Mr Irwin well as he prepares for retirement, Cllr Gilligan said he “fully agreed” with the renaming proposal.
“I also share his concern about moving the present city museum and would strongly argue that it should be rehoused in the local area. God knows we have more than enough space for it,” Cllr Gilligan said of Shannon Development’s plans to move the Jim Kemmy Museum to accommodate the redevelopment of King John’s and Castle Lane.
“I have no problem with the new interpretative centre at Castle Lane as I believe it is central to the marketing of the castle. People now demand that information be given in a more user-friendly way and it is a proven way of increasing visitor numbers.”
“His comments, however, bring up another point which has perplexed me for some time. The historic area of Limerick is widely known as King’s Island and almost everybody believes it is named after the king (John) who never called there. I do not know if it political revisionism or sheer disinterest which overlooks the kings who actually lived there and changed it from a Viking fort to the capital of Ireland,” Cllr Gilligan said.
“Brian Boru and his family held Limerick as the principal city in Ireland for many years, yet nowhere in the city is it recorded. If we are to rebrand the castle as Liam Irwin suggests, maybe we should take the opportunity to make a statement about the entire area.”
“A large monument, commemorating both the Vikings and the O’Brien kings, should be erected as a centrepiece on the square in front of City Hall. This would be unique to Limerick and as well as being a tourist attraction, would help to remind us of our noble past.”