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Understanding Limerick

Social Exclusion and Change

Edited by Niamh Hourigan

Publication Year: 2011

Understanding Limerick is an edited collection featuring contributions from leading Irish scholars in the fields of Sociology, Social Policy, Criminology and Urban Geography. Limerick city has some of the most severely disadvantaged neighbourhoods in the Republic of Ireland. The city has also experienced a range of problems in relation to organized crime, gangland feuding and community violence. This collection seeks to explore how profound social exclusion and poverty-related criminality emerged in Limerick city.

Published by: Cork University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. vii-viii

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Editor’s Preface

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pp. ix-x

As a sociologist who grew up in Limerick, I have always believed that there was much that was distinctive about the social structure and culture of the city. When the Regeneration programmes for Limerick were launched in 2007, I approached Cork University Press with the idea of compiling an edited collection of expert research on social exclusion in the city. I quickly realised that almost all the research available ...

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Introduction. Social Exclusion and Change in Limerick

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pp. xi-xvi

The city of Limerick truly earned its motto ‘an ancient city well versed in the arts of war’1 during a series of sieges by Oliver Cromwell and the Williamites in the late seventeenth century. Citizens of the city were acclaimed for their capacity to withstand attack and survive in harsh siege conditions. Today this reputation for a certain ‘toughness’ continues to inform the image of Limerick in popular consciousness. ...

Part One: Contexts

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1. Divided City: The social geography of Post-Celtic Tiger Limerick

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pp. 3-22

As the country’s third-largest urban centre, and the industrial and commercial capital of the Mid-West region, Limerick has grown rapidly in terms of population, labour force and economic activity in recent years. Between 1996 and 2006 the population of the urban area expanded by 14 per cent, the labour force by 32 per cent and the total number at work by ...

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2. Getting a Fix on Crime in Limerick

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pp. 23-38

For many, the dominant framework through which Limerick is perceived is that of crime, whether this is through its incarnation as ‘stab city’ or its more recent re-designation as the ‘murder capital of Europe’, yet most forms of crime are relatively infrequent occurrences in the city. The criminal image of Limerick has come from a small but socially significant amount of criminal activity that emanates ...

Part Two: Living with Fear and Feuding in Limerick

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Introduction: Living with Fear and Feudingin Limerick

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pp. 41-43

In 1965, sociologist Liam Ryan conducted a study of one of Limerick’s most deprived neighbourhoods. In his book Social Dynamite, he predicted that the anger, deprivation and social exclusion that he found there would lead to an explosion. These communities were, in fact, dynamite, primed to explode in the faces of the more middle-class citizens of Limerick city who made comments like, ...

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3. A History of Social Exclusion in Limerick

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pp. 44-59

Limerick1 is the third-largest city in the Republic of Ireland. It is situated on the banks of the River Shannon and has a population of over 90,000. The city dates from the Viking settlement of 812 and prominent city landmarks such as King John’s Castle were constructed in the twelfth century. By the nineteenth century, Limerick had developed as a prominent hub for trade and manufacturing in Ireland.2...

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4. Divided Communities: Mapping the social structure of disadvantaged neighbourhoods in Limerick

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pp. 60-73

The macro-study of inequality in Limerick city presented by Des McCafferty in Chapter One demonstrates the sharp divisions between rich and poor within the greater Limerick conurbation. Within this context, it can be tempting to view disadvantaged communities in Limerick as uniformly marginal and dysfunctional, a classic example of social exclusion. However, this model fails to recognise the complexity of these ...

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5. Organised Crime and Community Violence: understanding Limerick’s ‘regimes of fear’

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pp. 74-102

In November 2003, a media furore emerged in Ireland when a murder case against a young Limerick gangland criminal collapsed because of what Justice Paul Carney called a ‘case of collective amnesia’. The Irish Times reported that ‘six witnesses, some of whom had initially given detailed statements to Gardaí identifying the defendant, either refused to answer questions or said they could not ...

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6. The Sociology of Feuding: Limerick gangland and Traveller feuds compared

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pp. 103-125

This chapter seeks to provide a sociological analysis of feuding in the Irish context and compare the structure of Limerick ‘gangland’ and Traveller feuds. There is relatively little scholarly analysis available on contemporary feuds in Ireland despite the growing intensity of feuding during the last fifteen years. Two studies were undertaken in response to Traveller feuding in the Midlands,1...

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7. Lessons from Limerick: policing, child protection, regeneration

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pp. 126-154

The object of the study of fear and feuding in Limerick was to provide a richer sociological understanding of the mechanics of intimidation which were being used to create ‘regimes of fear’ in some parts of the city. The study was not designed to specifically critique social policy or criminal justice responses to these problems. Nevertheless, during the three years when this ethnography was conducted, some wide-ranging policy ...

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8. Neighbourliness and Community Spirit in Moyross and Southill: Life narratives

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pp. 155-166

I have no bad side of neighbours to talk about. I mean neighbours now inside of this whole park, as far as I would know people. A long long time ago when I was fairly new to the place, we were coming out from Mass one morning and there was a group of women and they were talking about a family nearby. I didn’t know the family, I may have known their name but I didn’t know much about them because ...

Part Three: Key Research Perspectives

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9. Men on the Margins: Masculinities in disadvantaged areas in Limerick city

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pp. 169-184

Large numbers of men benefit materially, socially and politically from patriarchy, but the advantages described as the ‘patriarchal dividend’ are not spread equally among men.1 In other words, not all men are equally privileged. In this context, a key issue is how do men negotiate their identities as men within disadvantaged areas? This raises questions about the social and economic structures in which they ...

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10. Social Capital, Health and Inequality: What’s the problem in the neighbourhoods?

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pp. 185-210

A key characteristic of Limerick is the high level of social inequality at spatial level in the neighbourhoods that make up the city and suburbs.1 For a variety of reasons including ‘mistakes’ in planning the city, Limerick city and suburbs are characterised by distinct neighbourhoods which are segregated along social class lines, are physically bounded (poor physical connectivity across neighbourhoods ...

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11. Behind the Headlines: Media coverage of social exclusion in Limerick city—the case of Moyross

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pp. 211-229

In a media setting, and within the public mind, Ireland’s ‘Third City’ has acquired an intensely negative reputation over time.1 While there are many historical precedents for the maligning of the place’s image, it is generally agreed that it reached a new low within media practice in the 1980s with the ascription, in some media quarters, of the label ‘Stab City’ to Limerick. The blanket representation ...

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12. City, Citizenship, Social Exclusion in Limerick

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pp. 230-245

In contemporary societies, social exclusion has emerged as a key concept by which to analyse the adverse effects of economic and social processes on different groups in the population. Social exclusion can be understood as the cumulative impact of weak participation or non-participation by individuals or groups in activities, routines and practices taken for granted as normal in a given society....

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Conclusion: Understanding Limerick? Conclusions

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pp. 245-252

Given the research presented in this text, there can be little doubt about the significance of the problems which have emerged in Limerick city in terms of broader debates about social exclusion and criminality in Irish society. At the heart of Limerick’s problems lies a complex interweaving of what could be considered the problems characteristic of a more ‘traditional’ Ireland such as feuding ...

Notes and References

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pp. 253-290


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pp. 291-300

E-ISBN-13: 9781908634108
E-ISBN-10: 1908634103
Print-ISBN-13: 9781859184578
Print-ISBN-10: 185918457X

Page Count: 316
Publication Year: 2011

Edition: 1

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Marginality, Social -- Ireland -- Limerick (Limerick).
  • Limerick (Limerick, Ireland) -- Social conditions.
  • Gangs -- Ireland -- Limerick (Limerick).
  • Urban policy -- Ireland -- Limerick (Limerick).
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