History positively oozes from the medieval walls of the historic town of Askeaton in County Limerick. This is a fascinating town with lots to see and most of the historical buildings are within easy walking distance of the town centre. For anyone interested in researching family roots from Askeaton there are two churches in the town, both called St Mary’s. Some of the townlands associated with Askeaton include Beagh, Ballyaglish, Ballynash, Ballysteen, Kilcolman and Kildimo.
Built on the banks of the river Deel, Askeaton is about a half hour drive from Limerick city on the Tralee road (the N69).
Although many of the ruins are crumbling, there is a ‘wow’ factor when driving into Askeaton. You can’t miss the ruins of Desmond Castle which stand tall over the town on an island in the Deel river. Dating from the end of the 12th century, the castle which is associated with the Fitzgerald family is currently being conserved. The site is not open to the public but you can get a look at the ruins from various viewing points around Askeaton. The picture (right) was taken on the banks of the river Deel just across the road from Desmond Castle.
A short walk from Askeaton town centre along the banks of the river Deel lie the ruins of a Franciscan Friary dating from the late 14th century. This a tranquil and beautiful place to visit and there is parking available. There are also good views of the Friary from banks of the river Deel. From the town centre, follow the signs for Askeaton Pool & Leisure Centre to take a short walk along the river and admire the wonderful views of the Friary.
Coming from Limerick, on the way into Askeaton you will see anArena Filling Station and Supermarket on your left. Just beyond this, set back a little from the road, is St Mary’s Church (Anglican, Church of Ireland). The graveyard at St Mary’s has both Protestant and Catholic graves and the poet Aubrey de Vere is buried here. A memorial to victims of the great Irish famine (1845-49) is particularly poignant when you think that more than 1,000 people died or emigrated from Askeaton in the mid-19th century.
At the other end of the town, the Roman Catholic church (also called St Mary’s) dates from 1851. There is a free parking in front and to the side of this church.
Depending on the time of year, visitors to Askeaton may be able to take in Ballinvirick House — an example of a Georgian Country House that dates from the 1700s — which is open to the public during May and June.