The Shannon region of Ireland offers visitors a rich sensory exploration of awe-inspiring natural monuments, imposing castles and welcoming local culture. Here music lovers can ditch the muddy wellies for the local pub, where home-grown musicians strum the night away alongside a roaring fire and delicious local cuisine.
Few visitors stay at Shannon Airport, although there is a workaday Park Inn by Radisson (Shannon Airport) beside the main terminal. A step up the luxury ladder is nearby Bunratty Castle Hotel (Bunratty), a short walk from its namesake castle and the popular Durty Nelly pub. To really splurge, book into No. 1 Pery Square Hotel & Spa (Pery Square) in Limerick’s Georgian Quarter. Also in Limerick, The George Boutique Hotel (O'Connell Street) is a classy mid-range choice, while the similarly named The Boutique Hotel (Denmark Street) is a cheerful spot decorated with original artwork, and is a good option for those on a budget.
There’s little in the way of shopping in Shannon itself, but nearby Limerick is mid-western Ireland’s shopping capital. O'Connell Street and Cruises Street are home to plenty of chains, as well as Irish-owned department store Brown Thomas (14-16 O’Connell Street). Nearby Catherine Street has some groovy little fashion boutiques and is the place to hunt down unique items. Arthur’s Quay (Patrick Street) and the Crescent Shopping Centre (Dooradoyle Road) can also fill many happy hours of window-shopping, while food and crafts shops are at their most colourful in the Milk Market (Cornmarket Row).
The area around Shannon has some unforgettable dining experiences. One night, you could be tucking into a four-course medieval banquet complete with goblets of wine and harp music at Bunratty Castle (Lower Road). The next, you could be a welcome houseguest at The Conservatory Restaurant in the 18th-century Carrygerry Country House (Newmarket-on-Fergus), with its cosy log fire and period detail. Limerick has a wide choice of food, from the swanky fare at The Savoy Restaurant (Henry Street) to pub grub at the Curragower Seafood Bar (Clancy’s Strand). On Fridays and Saturdays, the Milk Market (Cornmarket Row) sells everything from farmhouse cheeses to artisan breads.
This biennial exhibition is Ireland’s foremost contemporary visual arts festival, showcasing works by Irish and international artists, as well as hosting a range of talks, workshops and events.
Blas International Summer School
Fancy a go at the harp or want to perfect your fiddle skills? There’s no better time to take a crash course in Irish traditional music and song than during this two-week summer school event at the Irish World of Academy of Music and Dance.
Irish Festival of Speed
Petrolheads rev their way to Greenmount Raceway in Limerick on the August bank holiday weekend for Ireland’s biggest celebration of all things automotive. The festival includes stunt riders, vintage and cutting-edge car displays, air acrobatics, sprint racing and much more.
Cuisle Poetry Festival
Rhymesters and sonneteers from home and abroad come to this annual poetry festival in Limerick to take part in workshops, readings, poetry films, competitions and open-mike nights.
Outbreak – Limerick Zombie Festival
On the last weekend in October, Limerick’s streets are invaded by the undead, and they’re in the mood to party. Expect flash mobs, parades, films, music and other gory not-for-profit events. As the organisers put it, ‘it’s like Spring Break, but for zombies’.