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The selection of the historic City of Limerick as the venue for the All-Ireland Industrial Congress this year was a happy and appropriate idea. Last year, the congress was hosted in Derry, and there are striking commonalities between the two cities from both historical and industrial perspectives. Though geographically distant, Limerick and Derry share a significant historical connection through their famous sieges, and from an industrial standpoint, each city holds a pivotal role in its respective region. Therefore, designating Limerick as the venue for this year’s Industrial Conference aligns with the recognition of its importance, much like Derry in the North.

Limerick’s significance is not solely based on sentimental notions but rooted in practical reasons. The city holds a distinguished place in industrial Ireland, making it a fitting location for the gathering. Beyond the warm reception awaiting delegates and guests, Limerick offers a two-fold allure. Attendees will not only witness practical demonstrations of Ireland’s industrial progress, with Limerick standing at the forefront, but they will also have the chance to explore some of the most captivating scenery in the South of Ireland.

Visitors familiar with Thackeray’s descriptions of Limerick in 1842 might be surprised to find that the city has retained its reputation for the beauty of its women. As Thackeray wrote, “The houses are bright red, the streets are full and gay, carriages and carts go jingling by, horses are red and every soul of them clattering up the street, and perched upon every car, tickling paupers with ladies on it; you are sure (I don’t know how it is) to see a pretty one. The great street of Limerick is altogether a very brilliant and animated sight.”

Limerick’s advantageous location along the Shannon River adds to its appeal. Described as exceptionally fine, the view from Thomond Bridge encompasses the wide Shannon flowing gracefully between green meadows, the city of Limerick with its smoke, factories, and spires, and the grand towers of the castle. Despite its historical past, Limerick has transformed into a bustling, prosperous, and wholesome city, poised to play a more prominent role in the evolving landscape of Ireland.

The recent Munster-Connaught industrial conference held in Limerick aimed to showcase Ireland’s achievements and potential. It served as a valuable platform for sharing knowledge and insights, contributing to the city’s ongoing development. Today, Limerick stands as a thriving city with numerous well-established industries, overcoming challenges with resilience.

A glimpse into Limerick’s industrial past reveals a city that once boasted a thriving linen industry, with weavers producing a distinctive type of linen shipped worldwide. Additionally, the city had distilleries, breweries, brush and comb manufacturers, and several mills. While some of these industries have evolved or disappeared, Limerick has adapted and excelled in other sectors.

Despite challenges from foreign competition, Limerick maintains a distinctive edge in various domains. The city’s bacon, known globally as Limerick hams, continues to be a source of pride. In recent years, Limerick has diversified its portfolio to include provisions, condensed milk, chocolate, and sweets, all of which have garnered international acclaim. The city has also sustained its prominence in the tannery industry, with notable establishments providing employment and contributing to the local economy.

Although traditional industries like glove making have faded away, Limerick has found new avenues for economic growth. The city’s lace industry, while not as prominent as in its heyday, still holds a special place and is recognized globally. Limerick lace remains a symbol of craftsmanship and heritage.

Limerick’s selection as the venue for the All-Ireland Industrial Congress underscores its continued significance in Ireland’s industrial landscape. As a city that has faced challenges and adapted to changing times, Limerick stands as a testament to resilience and progress. The congress provides an opportunity not only to celebrate Limerick’s industrial achievements but also to explore the city’s rich history, diverse industries, and its promising future on the global stage.

Irish Independent – Thursday 23 October 1913

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