I. A S. W. County Of Ireland, in the province of Munster, bordering on Clare, from which it is separated by the Shannon, Tipperary, Cork, and Kerry; area, 1,035 sq. m.; pop. in 1871, 191,313. The surface is mountainous in the northeast, south, and southwest, and elsewhere level or undulating. The most important rivers are the Shannon, Maigue, and Deel. Iron, copper, and lead ores are found. The soil is very fertile, especially along the banks of the Shannon and in the " Golden Vale," a tract which extends from Tipperary W. through the centre of the county. An excellent breed of long-horned cattle is reared here, and cattle raising and dairy farming are the principal branches of industry. Wheat, oats, rye, potatoes, and turnips are extensively grown. The manufactures consist of coarse woollens, lace, paper, flour, and meal; and large quantities of the products of the county are exported. The chief towns are Limerick, Rathkeale, and Newcastle. This county is the most interesting in Ireland to the archaeologist, on account of its numerous Cyclopean remains, military earthworks, ancient castles, and ruins of religious houses.
II. A City, capital of the county, and a county in itself, on the estuary of the Shannon, 106 m. W. S. W. of Dublin, with which and with Cork and Waterford it is connected by railway; pop. in 1871, 49,670. It consists of the "English town," built on an island in the Shannon, and the " Irish town " and " Newton Pery," on the left bank of the river. These three portions are connected by five bridges, one of which, the Wellesley bridge, cost £85,000. The Thomond bridge, rebuilt in 1839, is interesting from historical associations. Its approach was anciently guarded by a fort and by King John's castle. The great gateway and round towers of the latter are still in good preservation, but the picturesqueness of the castle is marred by the modern roofs and by the buildings of the barracks, into which the interior has been converted. Newton Pery is filled with handsome modern houses, and is much the most attractive part of the city. The houses on the island are principally in the Flemish style. The old (or Irish) town is a mass of dilapidation and filth, the old crumbling houses being used by the poor wherever they can find something like a roof to cover them.
The chief public edifices are the law courts, prisons, custom house, chamber of commerce, exchange, linen hall, corn and butter markets, assembly rooms, barracks, and hospitals. There are 20 places of worship, of which 6, including a cathedral with remarkably fine bells, belong to the Episcopal church of Ireland, and 9, including a cathedral completed in 1860, to the Roman Catholics; a district lunatic asylum, Mount St. Vincent orphanage, and a model school. The streets in the new quarters are spacious and regular, and the appearance of the town is very bustling and animated. The manufactures include flax spinning and weaving, and lace making; corn mills, iron founderies, and a military clothing establishment; besides distilleries, breweries, tanneries, and slips for ship building. Limerick has an active foreign trade, being the chief port on the W. coast for the shipment of raw produce. By the Grand canal and by railway it has ready communication with the most important towns of Ireland, while its harbor is sufficiently capacious to receive a large amount of shipping, extending nearly a mile along the river, and has a breadth of 150 yards, with from 2 to 9 ft. of water at low tide and 19 ft. at spring tide. The line of quays extends about 1,600 yards, and there are also floating docks.
The new graving dock, where vessels of 1,500 tons can be repaired, has been finished at a cost of £20,000. In 1872 there entered at the port 441 British vessels, tonnage 77,476, and 89 foreign vessels, tonnage 37,350; cleared, 206 British vessels, tonnage 35,600, and 42 foreign vessels, tonnage 17,906. The registered shipping of the port comprised 31 sailing vessels, tonnage 1,806, and 2 steamers, tonnage 385. - Limerick surrendered to the parliamentarians under Ireton in 1651, after a gallant defence; and it was the last place in Ireland which submitted to William III. in 1691. A treaty was signed here on the latter occasion guaranteeing to Roman Catholics certain religious rights, and promising an amnesty to all who took the oath of allegiance. It is the headquarters of the S. W. military district.
Thomond Bridge and King John's Castle, Limerick.