Newcastle West is an excellent base to explore County Limerick from.
Home to the wonderfully maintained Castle Desmond with its banqueting hall and a great starting point for the Limerick Greenway, there’s plenty to see and do.
Throw in the town’s many great restaurants and lively pubs and you’ve a great weekend-away destination.
Below, you’ll find info on everything from things to do in Newcastle West to where to eat, sleep and drink.
Some quick need-to-knows before visiting Newcastle West
Although a visit to Newcastle West is fairly straightforward, there are a few need-to-knows that’ll make your visit that bit more enjoyable.
Newcastle West is an historic town in West County Limerick. It sits on the N21 between Rathkeale and Abbeyfeale, on the banks of the River Arra. It’s a 25-minute spin from Adare and a 45-minute drive from Limerick City.
2. Home to a fine bit of history
This modest town grew up around the castle and the ruins can be toured. Built by the Fitzgeralds around 1194, the castle was later rebuilt in stone, hence the name “New Castle”. The town hosted medieval fairs and butter markets. In the early 14th century it stood against the Knights Templar and was sacked.
3. A great base for the Greenway
On a happier note, Newcastle West makes a great base for exploring the excellent Limerick Greenway. It follows a former railway line connecting Rathkeale, Newcastle West and Abbeyfeale. It’s an enjoyable way to explore the agricultural landscape and landmarks.
About Newcastle West
Newcastle West is a town of almost 7,000 residents in West County Limerick. Despite being considerably smaller than Limerick City, it is the county seat.
The town grew up around the 12th century Castle Desmond and has seen wars, conquests and development which has shaped it into a thriving town today.
It expanded rapidly over the last 25 years and has many businesses and employment opportunities. It is home to Pallas Foods (now Cisco) and award-winning Cahills Cheese.
The main visitor attractions are the castle complex, Arts Festival and the Limerick Greenway.
Things to do in Newcastle West (and nearby)
There’s a handful of things to do in Newcastle West and there are endless things to do nearby.
Below, you’ll find info on everything from walks and hikes to unique attractions and historical sites.
1. Stroll along the Newcastle West Slí na Sláinte
If you’re on the lookout for walks in Limerick, this is a nice handy one to get you started.
A great introduction to Newcastle West is a stroll along the Slí na Sláinte which means “path for health”. Marked by colourful signposts, the 3.7km trail was developed by the Irish Heart Foundation.
Start by walking west along the River Arra and follow the footpath into the Castle Desmesne. Enjoy the park setting as you cross the Dooally River, passing the water tower and graveyard. Return along Church St.
2. Step back in time at Castle Desmond
At the heart of the town, Desmond Castle (not to be confused with Castle Desmond in Adare) is a well preserved site in The Square.
Take a tour and see the historic banqueting hall. The building began in the 13th century by Thomas Fitzgerald and was completed 200 years later.
It was an impressive venue for lavish banquets with a musicians’ gallery for entertainment.
3. Tackle the Limerick Greenway
The Limerick Greenway stretches for 39km along a former railway. It’s a relatively flat walking and cycling route.
You can walk some or all five sections as it meanders through Newcastle West heading east to Rathkeale and west to Abbeyfeale.
As well as an abundance of scenery and wildlife, you’ll pass Norman castles, abbeys, medieval ruins, workhouses, famine graveyards, deserted railway stations, rivers and a viaduct.
4. Head for a ramble around Castle Demesne Park
The Castle Desmesne is a 100-acre public park on the west side of Newcastle West with woodland and open spaces. Bordering the River Arra, the park is home to a plethora of nature, flora, fauna and birds.
As well as having trails through the woodland, it has several playing areas and sports fields for everyone to enjoy.
5. Climb nearby Knockfierna
Just 23 minutes’ drive from Newcastle West, Knockfierna has numerous trails leading to the summit from Ballingarry. Follow the waymarkers along the 9km hike to the summit.
It provides easy access and amazing views across the Shannon Estuary, Thomond Park and other Limerick landmarks.
You’ll pass reconstructed famine cottages, a Famine Memorial and Donn’s Cave and cairn at the top.
6. Explore Adare
25 minutes drive northeast of Newcastle West is the delightful village of Adare. Founded in the 13th century, it has thatched cottages and a low multi-arched bridge over the river.
Known as “Ireland’s prettiest village” it has historical buildings and churches along with boutiques, cafes and restaurants. Everything you need in fact for a memorable day out!
7. Saunter around Curraghchase Forest Park
Another gem 20 minutes northeast of Newcastle West is Curraghchase Forest Park. The original Curragh House was built by the Hunt/de Vere family in 1657 and destroyed by fire in 1941.
Once a grand estate, this 313 hectare park has several loop trails for exploring the woodland and lake.
Gardeners will enjoy the Arboretum with its international collection of trees and shrubs planted by the de Vere family.
Restaurants in Newcastle West
Newcastle West is home to a couple of our favourite restaurants in Limerick. Here’s three to get stuck into:
1. The Silver Room Restaurant
The award-winning Silver Room Restaurant in Market Yard is owned and operated by two lifelong friends. With 20 years combined experience, they opened this upscale restaurant in 2017 and have been collecting accolades ever since. Go for lunch, a la carte dinner or Sunday lunch and savour the experience.
2. Brown Morel
Another classy family-owned restaurant, the Brown Morel excels at formal dining in a relaxed ambience. Located on Bridge Street, the modest facade hides a wonderful restaurant that boasts many awards including Michelin Bib Gourmand and National Hospitality Awards.
3. Eilo’s Kitchen Restaurant
Nestled on Bridewell Row, Eilo’s Kitchen is one of Newcastle West’s newer establishments. Open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 6pm, this family-style restaurant specialises in tasty homemade food for breakfast, lunch and early bird dinner.
Pubs in Newcastle West
After spending the day tackling the various things to do in Newcastle West, you’ll have a well-earned pint waiting for you in the towns pubs. Here are several to nip into:
1. Silver Dollar Bar
For a perfect pint in friendly surroundings, head to the Silver Dollar Bar on Lower Maiden Street. The traditional exterior hides a large pub that has the best choice of beers, wines and spirits and plenty of lively entertainment.
2. Central Bar
Offering live music, DJ entertainment and a host of sports, the Central Bar is the place to head for in Newcastle West. It has friendly staff and a heated outdoor smoking area. Located on Bridge Street, this traditional red-fronted pub has excellent reviews for its beer, food, entertainment and ambience.
3. Whelans Bar
Located on Maiden Street, Whelans Bar is a renowned sports bar and live music venue. Strictly for the over 21s, the bar serves tasty food. It attracts live bands playing traditional Irish instruments for a lively foot-tapping night out.
Accommodation in Newcastle West
There’s a handful of places to stay in Newcastle West that make an excellent base to explore from. Here are some suggestions:
If you want to stay in Newcastle West, the modern 4-star Longcourt House Hotel is a 5-minutes stroll from the town centre. The elegant hotel includes 39 rooms, Table 21 Restaurant and Chasers Bar Bistro.
For homely B&B accommodation near Newcastle West including an excellent breakfast, try The Orchard 3 star B&B on Limerick Road.
Known as the “Pink House”, pretty Ballingowan House B&B is 2km from the town centre. It epitomises Irish hospitality with spacious well-furnished rooms enjoying garden and rural views.
Finally, rest your head at Shanagarry B&B, a modern bungalow with 4 ensuite bedrooms plus a twin room. Walk off the tasty breakfast on the 15-minute walk into town.
FAQs about Newcastle West in Limerick
In the section below, we’ve popped in the most FAQs that we’ve received. If you have a question that we haven’t tackled, ask away in the comments section below.
Is Newcastle West worth visiting?
If you’re close by it’s a good spot for a bite-to-eat. It’s biggest draw, for us, is that it makes a great base to explore Limerick from.
Are there many things to do in Newcastle West?
Yes! You can visit the castle, join the Limerick Greenway, walk the Slí na Sláinte, stroll around Castle Demesne Park or visit one of endless nearby attractions.