15 July 2019
Enjoying views of
the River Shannon from
While I was searching for Old Church or Kilrush Church off North Circular Road and close to Villiers School a few days ago, I found myself walking through the Westfield Wetlands.
I was on the north bank of the River Shannon, just a 15-minute walk from the city centre, and Westfields is home to a variety of wildlife that has become accustomed to people frequenting the area.
For a few moments, I stood at the end of Barrington’s Pier, enjoying the spectacular views of the River Shannon and the abundance of wildlife and Fora as I looked west towards the Limerick Tunnel and east back towards the city.
Barrington’s Pier was built by the Barrington family, in association with the local landlord, the Marquis of Lansdowne, into the deep water of the river.
The pier may have been built originally for boats to bring bricks from the Coonagh brickfields to the city in the late 18th century. But, despite those plans, the pier was unused for most of the 19th and 20th centuries, and may never have been used by boats as a point for docking.
The Barrington family also gave their name to Barrington’s Hospital, Barrington Street and Barrington Bank. Although Glenstal Castle, now Glentstal Abbey, was their most splendid residence for some generations, the family also built a number of houses near Barrington’s Pier, including Old Church, which later became the home of Robert Vere O’Brien, Shannon View, and Tivoli, which is now incorporated into Villiers School.
The Lansdowne estates in Limerick were extensive. Lansdowne Park and other places in this part of Limerick take their names from William Petty FitzMaurice (1737-1805), 2nd Earl of Shelburne and 1st Marquis of Lansdowne, who owned a substantial portion of land on the north side of the river, between the River Shannon and Thomondgate.
Lansdowne, who was born in Dublin was a direct descendant of William Petty the Surveyor General who prepared the Civil Survey of 1654. As Earl of Shelburne, he was the British Prime Minister in 1782-1783, having held a number of senior cabinet postings in the years immediately before.
His major achievement during his time in office was agreeing the peace terms that formed the basis of the Peace of Paris, bringing the American War of Independence to an end. His family later gave its name to streets and places in Limerick, Dublin, Bath, Calne and many other towns and cities on these islands.
The last of the estates in Limerick owned by the family of the Marquis of Lansdowne were sold in August 1919. But Barrington’s Pier on the River Shannon remains an interesting legacy of both the Barrington and the Lansdowne family.