Labour TD Jan O'Sullivan with young Ali at the Limerick Pride Parade
What's your idea of a perfect day, or a perfect weekend in Limerick?
A perfect Saturday would start in the Milk Market and end in Thomond Park, two of our most precious and most Limerick institutions. Both are quite recent additions and attract huge crowds and are a real sign of how much Limerick has changed for the better in recent years.
What’s your first Limerick memory?
My first Limerick memory is visiting my grandparents in Ranks yard where they lived. There were a couple of houses at the top of the yard and they lived in one of them. I was fascinated by the big draft horses that were stabled in the yard at night when they came in from pulling the carts loaded up with flour around the city. There was a distinctive smell from the milling of the wheat that I still remember.
I have always loved Nicholas Street. It was the main thoroughfare of the old historic town leading from St Mary’s Cathedral to King John’s Castle and plans to revitalise it have taken a long time to progress. It is great to see more and more of the buildings restored with new businesses and the Men’s Shed bringing life back. Even the medieval fireplace is looking good!
What’s your favourite local walk or view?
My favourite walk within minutes of my door is the Shannon Fields, Plassey Bank, Canal Bank and I know I share that love with lots of Limerick people and visitors because you meet so many along the way; it is a great resource on our doorstep.
What do you think gives Limerick its unique identity?
Limerick is just the right size to have the facilities of a city and the warmth of a town. It is built around the most splendid river in the country and has more unrealised potential than any other city in Ireland and people here know that now and are enthusiastically working together to bring that about.
Favourite local restaurant?
With my river theme, I’m going for beside the Shannon for fish pie in the Locke, the Curragower with friends or sitting by the window in the Absolute looking out at the Abbey River. Two lovely places for coffee within a minute’s walk from my office are Number 1 Pery Square and Zest in the City Gallery.
How would you describe the people of Limerick?
The people of Limerick are naturally friendly and helpful to each other and to visitors. That makes for an atmosphere of warmth where people can feel at home and there are so many people who have settled in Limerick and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.
How important do you think sports and the arts are to Limerick?
Sport is huge and backed by passion and parochialism; I love the banter between supporters of different clubs that gets forgotten about as everyone gets behind the Limerick hurlers, Munster Rugby and all the other sporting codes; I really welcome the opportunities for women and girls to fully participate and was thrilled by Roisín Upton’s role in Ireland’s hockey success and Joy Neville’s trail blazing as a rugby referee.
If you could add one amenity to Limerick, what would it be?
Thought about this for a while and decided to go for a beach! Limerick is the one Irish city that is not near the sea so I think we should copy Paris and put a man-made beach right in the City ( as well as reviving “Sandy” in Plassey and reclaiming the swimming areas we had in Corbally, St Mary’s Park etc).
What’s the biggest challenge facing the city and county today?
The biggest challenge is still about equality as far as I am concerned. Not everyone has a secure home or job or the opportunity to participate fully in all that Limerick has to offer and the way Limerick was developed has made for separated communities within the city. Planning for the future has to be about integrating and connecting people and making the city centre a thriving living community.