King John's Castle is a 13th-century castle, and used to form the heart of medieval Limerick. Syndia had already been through it once but we visited it again today for my edification.

The first thing that struck me was not so much the size of the thing - it's relatively small, all things considered - but the thickness of the walls. They're almost half as thick as they are high. The smell of coal-fires lit to emulate those used for warmth, cooking and blacksmithing drifts through the corridors at the entrance.

Unfortunately the powers that be have tried a little too hard to re-create a medieval feel, and gone a little bit silly. There's a trebuchet sitting in front of the entrance to the courtyard, which would have been great had it looked even remotely authentic. Then there's the visitor centre itself, which is an utter monstosity of glass and steel perched like a parasite along the front wall of the castle. Ugh.

The castle offers a commanding view of the River Shannon, and when we looked out over the river, what did we see but a crazy kayaker? Seriously! He was literally surfing the waves created by the current passing over a flood barrier. Again, only in Ireland...

All in all, King John's Castle is a fascinating snapshot in Limerick's history, and well worth a look. Ignore the kitsch, prefabricated junk attached, and pay attention to what was actually there in the 14th century.