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Team appointed to help transform key tourism site in Limerick

by Staff
Photos by Arthur Ellis.

A team of international consultants has been appointed to devise a new masterplan for King John’s Castle in Limerick.

A design Team headed up by Galmstrup Architects will now work to create a plan to maximise the potential of the site.

€2.264m in funding has been allocated to develop the attraction and to identify innovative opportunities for investment in the Castle .

Anne Marie Galmstrup is a director of Galmstrup Architects. She says the King John’s Castle site has enormous potential…

The King John’s Castle Masterplan, which is funded by Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, is the latest initiative by Discover Limerick Development Activity Company.

King John’s Castle is an Anglo-Norman castle on the east bank of the Shannon. Originally constructed as a military fortification, the Castle has undergone several sieges, battles and triumphs across its 800year history. The complex now comprises the 13th-century courtyard castle, the modernist Visitor Centre building and the later Castle Lane Interpretative Centre building (1998).  The castle is open to the public 362 days of the year and welcomes in excess of 100,000 visitors annually. 

Welcoming the appointment, Mayor of the City and County of Limerick Cllr Gerald Mitchell said, “King John’s Castle has been the jewel in the crown of Limerick in so many respects dating back to the 13the century. It was the fortress on which so much of our proud Limerick history pivots but what we are now embarking on is turning this incredible opportunity we have here on the banks of the Shannon into a truly world-class visitor attraction for the future.”

Minister of State with Responsibility for Local Government and Planning Kieran O’Donnell TD said, “King John’s Castle is one of the finest Irish castles with a rich history and sits on the banks of our majestic and internationally renowned River Shannon. That’s an unrivalled mix and I am delighted as Minister for Local Government and, indeed, as a TD for Limerick City to have secured €2.264m in funding from my Department for the Castle’s further development as a key tourist attraction in the region in November 2023.

“This crucial funding will support the development of the King John’s Castle Masterplan announced today which is very welcome and is another milestone step in its history. I look forward to the outcome of the Masterplan, seeing the enhanced tourism offering that it will deliver for King John’s Castle, Limerick City and the region, with our iconic castle being at the forefront of city attractions not just in Ireland but across Europe and worldwide.”

Dr Pat Daly, Chief Executive of Limerick City and County Council said, “We established Discover Limerick DAC to grow Limerick’s status as a leading Irish tourism destination and, in doing so, contribute to the region’s economic growth. This masterplan is early evidence of that at work as it will set out a roadmap for creating a world-class visitor attraction here in Limerick.”

Galmstrup Architects is a design-led practice specialised in cultural and community projects. Our work revolves around the civic sphere, varying in scale from designing and building museums and visitor centres, to strategic masterplanning of cultural districts, heritage sites and entire landscapes. With over 20 years of international experience working with cultural projects as architects, planners and advisors, we lead multidisciplinary design and client teams forward often in complex settings and on sensitive projects with many stakeholders. We listen and engage with our clients, their culture, collections and communities. We design, develop and deliver projects centered around people and rooted in the narrative of a place. We are inspired by local cultures and methods. We achieve pragmatic solutions with a sensible approach and always together. We work with public institutions and heritage organisations internationally. We provide masterplans and advisory to government, cities and large commercial investment companies. Committed to community engagement, we established a non-profit sister company “Imaginations Cross Cultures” where we co-create summer schools for young people.

Anne Marie Galmstrup, a Director with Galmstrup Architects, said, “We are delighted to get the opportunity to develop this masterplan for King John’s Castle. We’ve spent decades specialising in cultural and community projects internationally and King John’s Castle is right up there in terms of its historical and architectural importance and then it’s location on the banks of such a majestic Irish river adds another special layer of interest to the project.”

Tim O’Connor, Interim Chairperson of Discover Limerick DAC said, “Limerick has such a proud history and King John’s Castle is the ultimate emblem of that. That history, together with its incredible architecture and location here on the banks of the Shannon, means we have a tourism product here of enormous potential. It’s one that we have yet to truly make the most of and that’s what this masterplan is going to address, in a way that will significantly increase visitor numbers from the 100,000 per annum today and be a significant driver of our economy.  We thank Minister O’ Donnell and the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage for giving us the funding to take this vital step on a journey to realising this immense opportunity for Limerick.”

Gordon Daly, Director of Economic Development and Tourism with responsibility for Discover Limerick DAC said, “Discover Limerick DAC has huge ambition for the sites we have under our remit and they don’t come bigger or better than King John’s Castle.  We have an opportunity here to do something completely unique with this incredible building and in Galmstrup Architects we’ve brought on board international experts to guide us in this.”

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