As group 5, we were assigned Fanning’s Castle for Limerick City of Culture 2014. On Wednesday 16th of October, myself and one other member of my group met up in Limerick city to find Fanning’s Castle, which Google Maps told us, was just off Mary Street. Luckily my group member Matthew, being a native of Limerick city, was able to easily locate the castle as it was right up the street from his old secondary school. I met Matthew just off the bus at O’ Connell’s Street and it was just over a five minute walk from there to Fanning’s Castle.
Over time Fanning’s castle has deteriorated quite a bit. It seems very out of place, crumbling away in a somewhat abandoned part of the city, over shadowed by a multi-storey car-park on a deserted street. All that is left of the castle is one standing front wall, a standing side cable and the rest has been leveled. A fence has been placed around the castle and surrounding area of the grounds, as well as an automatic gate (that we were slightly wary of) for health and safety reasons.
Even though it’s official name is Fanning’s Castle it’s not actually a castle but a medieval fortified tower or tower house. It was supposedly built by Dominic Fanning, the mayor of Limerick at the time, for himself in approximately 1641. The walls of the tower are made up of limestone blocks of various different sizes. Although it was once five storeys high, the first storey is now almost at ground level due to building development in the area. The doors on the upper levels suggest that at some point the tower would have had external balconies or stairs. The castle would have naturally enough adopted a turret staircase and battlements this again added to its beautiful look. It was said that the eye catching look of the building reflected the Fanning’s who lived there.
The building was the prominent residences of the mayors and bailiffs for the city during that time, from the mid 15th century up until Cromwell’s victory, when English Protestant families took over.
Dominic Fanning led the resistance against Cromwell but was caught and had to give up his residence at Fanning’s Castle. He was executed by Cromwellian forces in 1651.