St Mary’s Cathedral is the oldest, most historic and most beautiful building in Limerick City. According to tradition, Donal Mor O’Brien, the last King of Munster, founded this Romanesque Cathedral on the site of his palace in 1168. Previous to this palace this site was a viking meeting place called a ‘thingmote’ dating to c.970 and was their most westerly European stronghold. Experts believe that the great west door is the original main entrance to the royal palace. It is also believed that the stones around this doorway were used by defenders of the city to sharpen their swords and arrows (the marks are still visible today) during the many sieges of Limerick. The interior to the Cathedral is truly magnificent with thick rustic stone arches and beautiful tracery in the windows. In the 14th century, the tower which rises to 120 feet was added. In 1651, Cromwellian forces used the Cathedral as a stable and removed it’s 13 ft pre-reformation high altar. This was the largest altar of it’s kind carved from a single limestone block in all of Ireland and the UK . This altar was only reinstated in the 1960s.

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