St John’s Castle, Limerick

Bleak, bulky and brutally beautiful.

A modest pile

With castles, unlike life, less is more (in life, more is more, and you should know that by now). What you lose in solidity, you gain in imagination; the larger the proportion of crumble to crenellation, breach to bulwark and rubble to rampart, the more ancient and alien a citadel seems.

King John’s Castle in Limerick is perfectly, properly 13th century bleak, bulky and brutally beautiful. With the domestic buildings long gone, there is hardly any sheltered space. Clinging onto the great, bald square of the courtyard, the corner towers have just enough freezing, domed privacy to allow treaties to be signed and supplicating rebel wives to be flung against the stone.

Scarred with the death-throes of Angevin and Cromwellian egos, Johnny’s joint’s a treat for a tourist-free weekday afternoon. Listening to The Velvet Underground’s Femme Fatale and wearing a fabulous dragoon-style shirt got cheap from Ralph Lauren, I reconstructed my own historical romance, expiring all over the excavated seige mines and rollicking rampant on the rampart.

The CCTV controllers deserve an apology.

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