Some select snippets
"Architecturally, the centre of Limerick is a Georgian gem, the riverfront is beautiful and the surrounding countryside a tourist mecca. It has a huge university, an international airport and, in Thomond Park and Munster rugby, one of the most internationally recognisable Irish sporting brands.
On Saturday, I sat in Limerick's cosmopolitan Milk Market. There can hardly be a better 'covered market' in Ireland. While eating gorgeous toasties at the redoubtable Marie Hussey's Cheese Shop, Mickey Dunne, the master uilleann piper – a fully paid-up member of Ireland's trad aristocracy – started to play in the corner, there and then, as punters came in and out buying cheese, coffees, buns, and plonking themselves down to chat and listen. Outside, the market bustled with the intense chatter of commerce.
I say "trad aristocracy" because Mickey Dunne has pedigree. His father (the legendary Pecker Dunne) and uncles were highly regarded buskers at fairs, markets and GAA matches. They were travelling musicians who played widely and influenced many well-known names including Seamus Connolly, Tony McMahon and Professor Mick Maloney.
This is deep culture. It is Irish culture, the culture that is in our DNA, the type of culture you cannot fake, and here it was playing on Saturday morning.
The night before, I was hosting an economic and political debate as part of the Limerick Spring, itself part of the City of Culture. The discussion was held at the hopping Dolans Warehouse.
It is a brilliant venue – as good as any in the country – which every month plays host to dozens of musicians, comedians and the odd travelling economist, too."