My Limerick, with poet and painter Jo Slade

My Limerick, with poet and painter Jo Slade

Jo Slade: We have the rugby and GAA stadiums, why can’t we have a wonderful arts centre that reflects the inherent creativity of Limerick people? | Picture: Adrian Butler

What's your idea of a perfect day, or a perfect weekend, in Limerick?

First, I wake and rise. I like to rise early, in the quiet morning. The sky is blue, my garden is filled with light. It can be any season since every season has its particular beauty. I can see and hear the birds. I sit at my table and write whatever comes into my head.

Later, I go up to my attic studio with a strong coffee and engage with a piece of art I’m working on. In the afternoon I walk, alone or with family or friends. Most precious time is any time among family and friends. The day ends as the sun goes down with a glass of chilled white wine and the ongoing conversation about words and images, beauty and hope.

What's your first Limerick memory?

Standing outside the family home in Lanahrone Avenue Corbally, watching the removers deliver our furniture to our new home in Ireland. We’d just moved to Limerick from England. My father had always wanted to live in Ireland and his new position in Shannon Airport made that possible. Both my parents lived abroad and had travelled widely during World War II, this had a huge influence on our family. It both enhanced and unsettled our adjustment to our new home place. Limerick was a very different society in the late 50s, it was difficult to integrate and people lacked empathy with immigrants. Thankfully, things have changed a lot and we are much more aware of the importance of empathy with the many diverse people and cultures that have added so much to the culture and economy of our city. These people help us to redefine what it means to be a Limerick person: someone open to difference and change, with a wide vision.

What's your favourite part of the city (or county) and why?

I love to walk the Shannon Fields in Corbally, the beautiful river accompanies you as you walk, it snakes its way through the landscape. The fields look different every day, the sky is wide like a bowl above you, you can see Keeper Hill in the distance and the wild life of the river and fields is always captivating. The walk continues out to the University of Limerick, by Limerick’s lovely canals, which could do with some TLC. This area is one of Limerick’s most important natural amenities providing a habitat for all kinds of insects. As we are now aware, 40% of insect species are declining and this will undoubtedly influence the planet’s ecosystems. We need to look after our beautiful fields and waterways.

What about a favourite walk or view?

My favourite view? My granddaughter’s face, she throws her unique light on everything and it always brightens my view.

What do you think gives Limerick its unique identity?

The people give the city its unique identity. Their humour and authenticity, their enthusiasm and resourcefulness, their passion…these qualities create an edginess that contribute to its vibrant artistic and social life. It’s an ancient city with a wonderful, historic past. It is one of the most westerly cities in Europe built on the Shannon estuary, the river brings life and takes life. Limerick is a city of spires and bells, of gulls and crows, of ancient ghosts that wander its rifts and stills. All of this combines to form a unique identity.

Do you have a favourite local restaurant or pub?

I love Olios’s in Little Catherine Street for a relaxed coffee with friends and Tom Collins pub in Cecil Street for a drink. Dolan’s Warehouse on the Dock Road is a lively bar and restaurant and a brilliant venue for live music events. I’ve eaten in quite a few restaurants in Limerick and all are good, for different reasons, but Bella Italia Thomas Street make the best minestrone soup, great on a cold day.

How would you describe the people of Limerick?

Authentic. Enthusiastic. Sarcastic. Humorous. Creative. Circumspect. Kind.

How important do you think sport is to Limerick?
Very important…as are the arts. Limerick people are passionate about sport, it has become a
national and internationally known sports city. I think it’s important to develop other aspects of
the city, to achieve the same international reputation as sport.

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

A state of the art Arts Centre. A beautiful building that looks onto the river with dance and theatre spaces, studios, exhibition space, a communication & design space, cafes, reading rooms, a restaurant…etc The arts humanise us, the arts teach us to empathise, to give expression to our curiosity about life and its meaning. Art gives us hope and feeds imagination. We have the Rugby and GAA stadiums, why can’t we have a wonderful Arts Centre that reflects the inherent creativity of Limerick people?

What's the biggest challenge facing the city (or county) today?

The development of a wide and inclusive vision for the city. A vision that includes the marginalised and people from diverse cultures and backgrounds. These people enhance our city, they bring alternative ways of seeing and understanding. Limerick can become a model city that provides for all its citizens in a generous and open way.

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