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County Limerick
Paranormal Investigation 80
King Johns Castle

The Vikings built the first pre-eminent stronghold on Inis Sibhtonn (Kings Island) in 922 where the castle stands today. The Viking sea-king, Thormodr Helgason used this as a base to launch long ships up the River Shannon into Ireland; mainly targeting monasteries. The Anglo-Normans arrived in the area in 1172.  Domhnall Mór Ó Briain  (Donall the Great), King of Thomond burnt the city to the ground in 1174 in an attempt to stop the invaders. O’ Briain died in 1194. The Anglo-Normans finally captured the area in 1195 under John, Lord of Ireland, who would later become King John (1166-1216). A castle was ordered to be built by the new king on the land in 1200. Construction was completed in around 1210. Limerick flourished as a trading spot and port with the castle monitoring any cargo passing through the estuary. As Limerick prospered King John set up a mint in the North-West corner of the castle. The city became divided. Kings Island was known as, “English Town” while the settlement in the south bank of the river was known as, “Irish Town”. The Siege of Limerick, the first of five took place in 1642. About six hundred English Protestants escaping the Irish Rebellion of 1641 occupied the castle, but were besieged by Irish Confederate forces under there Munster general Garret Barry. With 1,500 men, yet with little artillery Barry ordered his comrades to dig mines underneath the castle walls; planning the collapse of the foundations. He also positioned snipers in the surrounding houses. Finally he cut off the castles food and water supply. Suffering from disease, and many wounded, the English Protestants surrendered. In a period of four weeks between two and three hundred people had died within its walls. Excavations between 1990 and 1998 revealed the Undercroft beneath the original great hall or storehouse. It had been filled with rubble around 1790-1800. Timber-lined tunnels were found, linked to the mining of May and June of 1642. Over 1,000 objects were recovered and a burial pit containing several skeletal remains was discovered behind the Gatehouse. King Johns Castle is regarded as one of the best conserved Norman castles of Europe; the walls, towers and fortifications still intact, and it boasts interactive exhibitions with computer generated animations.