The area of St. Maryâ€™s Park is located on the northern half of Kingâ€™s Island to the north of the known alignment of the city walls. The island is formed by the River Shannon to the north and west, and the Abbey River to the east and south. This area was originally accessed from the walled Englishtown in medieval times via a gate in the wall called Island Gate.
The original site boundary comprises 40 hectares of the northern portion of Kingâ€™s Island in the heart of Limerick City. It includes:
- St. Maryâ€™s Park: a 1930â€™s local authority housing Estate of 463 houses, of which 273 (59%) are privately owned, and 190 (41%) are local authority owned
- A frontage of approximately 2 km on to the Shannon and Abbey rivers, with an embankment to control flooding that also functions as an attractive riverside walk
- A Special Area of Conservation of 10.7 hectares along the eastern edge of the Island, fronting on to the Abbey River, which extends along the banks of the Abbey and Shannon rivers
- Two soccer clubs on a combined site of 3 hectares, with short term leases from Limerick City Council
- A military cemetery of 0.6 hectares dating from the 1850â€™s
- A modest community centre in the south-west corner with planning permission for a crÃ¨che adjacent
- Extensive open space that is low lying and generally neglected
The Plan also takes into account the siteâ€™s relationship with the Heritage Precinct and the rest of Limerick City.
The original settlement of Limerick grew up on the south of Kingâ€™s Island. This is the historic core of the city, known as the â€˜Heritage Precinctâ€™, containing King Johnâ€™s Castle, St. Maryâ€™s Cathedral, old St. Munchinâ€™s Church, the Courthouse and many other important historical features. The adjacent figure summarises the rich collection of ancient buildings and sites in the southern part of the Island which form part of the Precinct.
Within the site of St. Maryâ€™s Park Estate there is a recorded archaeological monument, known as a starshaped fort, which dates to the 17th century. Although the precise location is not known, from maps studied, it is expected to be lying under the existing 1930â€™s housing, in the vicinity of the junction of St. Itaâ€™s Street and St. Brendanâ€™s Street.
This site is classified as a â€œbastionâ€, and is protected under the National Monuments Acts. It is also on the record of protected structures, as listed in the City Development Plan, and is therefore further protected under planning legislation. Whilst the fort is clearly no longer visible, its foundations may still exist.
The military cemetery and attendant cottage at the southern end of the site (between St. Maryâ€™s Park and Assumpta Park) date to the mid 19th Century, and whilst neither feature is formally protected, they form an important use of the area at that time.
The site has high potential for archaeological remains. This is because of the history of the general area with respect to Viking influence, the activities that would normally be conducted close to the walls of a medieval city and the existence of the star-shaped fort over a period of several hundred years. The shoreline of the site also has high potential for underwater, inter-tidal or riparian archaeological remains.
Source: Limerick Regeneration Agency ~ Masterplan St. Maryâ€™s Park