ONE of Limerick’s best loved thoroughfares has enjoyed a much-needed facelift after the community came together to paint the street.
Eight groups of people, including the residents and traders in Nicholas Street teamed up to give the tourist street a lick of paint.
Now, new vibrant, bold colours and murals adorn the tall buildings along the medieval street.
“We want Nicholas Street to become the heartbeat of Limerick city in relation to tourism. We want to improve its attractiveness for people to live, to work and visit. This is all about neighbours coming together and working together,” said Niall O’Callaghan, the chief executive of Shannon Heritage, which runs King John’s Castle, which sits proudly at the Thomond Bridge end of the historic area. The repainting of the street has been taking place across the last year under the leadership of St Mary’s Cathedral Dean Niall Sloane.
The project won the best tourism building project in 2019 and was a finalist in the community and council awards for best community based initiative last month.
There was a real party atmosphere in Nicholas Street, as Munster legend Brendan Foley, the father of the late, great Anthony Foley, cut the ribbon on the new look street.
After this, there was a parade down Nicholas Street led by piper Capt Michael Egan, before over 150 local students sang for the residents, traders and guests.
Brendan said: “The street needed a bit of life back in it to make a connection between King John’s Castle and St Mary’s Cathedral. Tourists move along to this street, and I’d hope it will put a bit of life back here. It was vibrant here 40 years ago, and there’s no reason it should not be the same again”.
“You used to be able to get anything on this street, maybe barring a bag of coal. We’ve great memories of our youth here,” said Brendan, who grew up on the Island.
Mayor Michael Sheahan said: “Nicholas Street is one of Limerick’s most historic streets. It leads people towards King John’s Castle, one of our main attractions. Yet it was clear it was neglected down through the years.”
He said while “a lick of paint” sounds so simple, it’s actually involved a lot of work behind the scenes.
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“The Nicholas Street painting project was one of the single biggest most exciting community events to take place in Limerick in recent times. It included every section of the community around the medieval street, the local authority, the church, businesses, state agencies, tourist attractions, educational institutions and residents of the area. The power and determination of this community painted a street,” the mayor added.
Dean Sloane added: “In essence, it brought a community together, and building community is a wonderful thing.”
On what was a golden morning for the Nicholas Street community, Capt Egan led off a playing of Amhrán na bhFiann.
But pride of place of the final song went to the local anthem There is an Isle.