Behind James Street in the old part of Limerick city lies Johns Square, and facing Johns Square a very ancient church, its called St John the baptist and has a cemetry sourrounding it – this was a protestant church and was been built some time before St Johns Cathedral next to it in St.Johns square.
This church has a claim to fame, to be found nowhere else in the world…it has a pub in the cemetry.
At one corner of the cemetry sits “The Holy Ground” pub, owned and run by Michael Wright who has a warm welcome for all. This pub has been in the cemetry for perhaps a hundred years and to the back of it lies the last resting places of the good, the bad and the powerful in the limerick of bygone ages.
On one side of the pub is a very large tomb. There is a story about this tombs and the man who had it built and who lies there to this day. The man who built the tomb long , long before he died, saw it as a waste of space, so he installed some lamps, a table, chair and a bookcase and used the tomb as an office for many years until he died and then was interned in his former “office”.
So when you stand at the bar in “the holy ground” pub and raise a glass you are facing the tombs and their long buried residents just behind the wall. An odd tourist, who has heard of the pub, wanders in from time to time and finds it strange to be having a drink in a cemetry, but the locals take it for granted and its almost never mentioned,unless a visitor brings it up.
This church lay derlict until recent years,but happily it is now being restored .
Its said that in years long gone by – perhaps not that long? – the residences of St. Johns cemetary, as the residents in other cemetrys around the city, came out in strength to vote at election times :)
Note: Since this article was originally written the pub has closed and is not an off licence.
veronica Cook says
If I ever get to Limerick Ireland, I’ll be sure to look this special place up. It sounds so interesting..
Amanda Jane Bachelier says
I visited The Holy Ground with my parents some years ago.
It was my Aunty Mary’s funeral (my Dad Patrick Tydings Limerick born)
He was baptised in the cathedral next to it in The City of Bells as it was known then. A wonderful teeny bar.
Sadly Limerick is known as stab city.
Although it was a sad family occasion we really enjoyed my Dad’s reminiscing around his childhood ‘Town he loved so well ‘ ??