My Limerick - Fionan Coughlan: 'It breaks my heart to see buildings falling into dereliction'

Nick Rabbitts


Nick Rabbitts


My Limerick - Fionan Coughlan: 'It breaks my heart to see buildings falling into dereliction'

What’s your idea of a perfect day, or week in Limerick?

My perfect week starts on a Monday morning when I’m on my way to university. I’d usually cycle from Corbally out and you follow the river the whole way along. They’ve done a great job renovating that area with the new path and likes. It’s made the daily commute easier and more enjoyable. UL is one of the most beautiful modern campuses in Europe, so it’s great to spend time there.

What’s your first Limerick memory?

Going to school at the Limerick School Project on O’Connell Avenue really fostered a strong connection in me towards the city centre from a young age.

What is your favourite part of the city/county and why?

It’s got to be the city centre, because it’s crying out for some tender loving care. Walking down O’Connell street on a Sunday morning is a sorry sight, the streets are almost deserted. I would love to see the city centre full of people who are there to live not just there Monday to Friday, nine to five.

What about a favourite local walk or view?

I have an unusual take on this, but it’s got to be the view from the Curragower river wave. I often go surfing there with my friends from the UL surf club when Ardnacrusha gives us some flow. It’s a fantastic spot for a surf in the city centre. You’re literally surfing away in front of the castle. However, it is dangerous and should only be used by advanced surfers or kayakers who know what they are doing.

What do you think gives Limerick its unique identity?

I believe the Treaty Stone gives Limerick it’s unique identity. I can name plenty of cities in Europe that have a castle, a river and a few bridges. But there is no other place in the world that has a monument that is as physically unique and historically significant as our Treaty Stone. 

Do you have a favourite local restaurant?

Personally, I love any restaurant that puts thought and taste into their interior design. That’s why it’s great to have places like 101, The Copper Room, The Buttery, that you can show off to visitors. I like places which are new and different, rather than following the template set for the last 40 years.

How would you describe the people of Limerick?

Loveable rogues! A bit asymmetric and rough around the edges, kind of like the Treaty Stone, Dolores O’Riordan and Richard Harris rolled into one! It’s grounded, real, authentic. Not like other cities.

How important do you think sports and the arts are to Limerick?

Sports and the arts have a massive cultural impact on this city. Our sporting traditions have fostered a great sense of pride and team spirit among the people in Limerick. You get the sense you’re on a team when you’re in Limerick – that everyone is working towards the same goal. Limerick arts has the same potential to make positive cultural impacts, however I feel the Limerick arts scene hasn’t fully found it’s feet yet. A challenge for the future no doubt.

If you could add one amenity to Limerick, what would it be?

It breaks my heart to see buildings falling into dereliction. I’d like to see more attractive quality housing. Internally re-purposing our Georgian townhouses as modern co-living houses. Where communal assets such as a laundry, kitchen, garden are shared by residents who have private spacious living areas but foster a sense of togetherness through shared utilities. I strongly believe this is the future of housing. It would be good to see Limerick take the lead on such innovative lifestyle trends as this, rather than always lagging behind our European counterparts.

What’s the biggest challenge facing the city and county today?

We need a diverse range of quality housing options in the centre and the hundreds of vacant Georgian units falling further into dereliction is upsetting. We could breathe life into our heritage buildings through adapted design. Projects like the Opera Centre will falter unless there is a high-spending population to support it. 

Follow Fionan on Twitter @fionancoughlan