Chapter 2 - Settlement in Context

Open2 Sep, 2023, 12:00am - 16 Oct, 2023, 5:00pm

2.1 Settlement Location

Patrickswell is located approximately 12km southwest of Limerick City Centre. Patrickswell’s hinterland is a rural area, defined by the Limerick Development Plan 2022-2028 as an area under Strong Urban Influence. The large village is strategically located in proximity to the national roads network. The village is bypassed and can be accessed at either end from the M20 Cork to Limerick motorway. The east of the village can be accessed from the junction for the Limerick Racecourse, whilst the Attyflin Junction (M20/N21 Junction) provides access to the west of the village.

The village retains the appearance of a linear settlement with many traditional single storey buildings located along the Main Street. Patrickswell’s village centre stretches along the old N20 national road and consists mainly of retail, commercial, public/institutional buildings and some dwellings. A more loosely knit pattern of development, consisting mainly of dwellings, spreads further north from the Main Street. The settlement boundary straddles two Municipal Districts, both the Metropolitan District of Limerick and the Municipal District of Adare-Rathkeale.

2.2 Settlement Profile

Census Data is a crucial element of the plan, as it provides the only robust, credible and systematic source of data available to analyse at a local level. This includes social economic trends and mobility/transport patterns available to support the policies and objectives of the Draft LAP for the sustainable development of the village.  As of June 2024, the CSO Census Data have released ‘Profile 1 – Population Distribution and Movement’.  According to the data released to date, the population of Patrickswell has remained stagnant with an increase of only one person between 2016 to 2022, (0.12%) to 848 persons. The total population increase between the Census years 2011 to 2022 was 0.83% (7 persons). Previous Census data also illustrated limited growth, as can be seen in the graph outlined in Figure 2.3 below.

The lack of population growth to 2013 was largely due to the unavailable wastewater treatment capacity resulting in no significant development being constructed during the Celtic Tiger boom years of the 2000’s. However, Patrickswell was connected to the Limerick Main Drainage scheme in 2013 for the disposal of effluent and growth has subsequently commenced in the village.  

Figure 2.1: Patrickswell in context

The 2016 Census recorded the working population to be just below the national average at 45.7% (53% national average). Unemployment rates were significantly higher in Patrickswell in comparison to Limerick City and County at 7.5% (11.6% in Patrickswell) and across the state at 7.08%.

Figure 2.2: Patrickswell Census Data 1991-2022

Patrickswell has a median gross household income of €44,426. This is just below the national median average of €45,256. In terms of the Pobal Relative Deprivation Index areas, the village is divided into five small area administrative boundaries, three of which are identified as ‘very disadvantaged’, ‘disadvantaged’ and ‘marginally below average’.  Figure 2.2 below provides a socio-economic overview of the village.

Figure 2.3: Socio-Economic Profile of Patrickswell (Source: Census 2016)


2.3 Historical Context

The earliest known surviving settlement in Patrickswell is represented by the large ringfort (LI012- 089) in Ballyanrahan East. Ringforts were the homes of farmers in the early medieval period (500-1100A.D.) and the translation of the townland name is the town of Ó hAnracháin. There are at least another five ringforts within a kilometre of the village centre. St. Patrick’s Well, which gives the village its name, may date from this period also. The Well, when originally open, was recorded as curing sores, toothaches, other pains and also cattle. The stone plaque associated with the Well dates back to the beginning of the 19th Century, it was covered by a pump in 1890 (Danachair, 1955, 215).

The Civil Survey of Ireland (1654-56 ref Simington)[1] makes no mention of the village, but records the land in Ballyanrahan East as agricultural and associated with Donogh O’Byrne of Carrigogunnel Castle. The ensuing transfer of lands saw new families, such as the Roses (from Devonshire) and the Westropps, moving into the area (Irwin, 2013, 184).

It has been suggested that Patrickswell evolved as a worker’s village at the edge of several 17 Century landlord estates. In 1806, the right to hold fairs in Patrickswell was granted to Hickman Rose. The village began as a cluster of housing, where the workforce resided, at the common edge of a number of estate houses and demesnes, such as Attyflin, Faha, Greenmount, Dooneen and Fortetna. The earliest description of the village is in the first Ordnance Survey (1840), when it appears as a well-established urban centre having 41 houses, 3 public houses, 2 blacksmiths, 2 carpenters, 4 masons, 1 broguemaker, 3 hucksters, 3 taylors, 2 shoemakers, 1 weaver, 4 lodging houses, a Police Station with 1 constable and 7 sub-constables, a court house, a post office (established 1828), 1 summons server and a Petty Sessions clerk. (O’Donovan, 1840 unpub.)

[1] Simington, R.C. 1938 The Civil Survey AD 1654 – 1656, County of Limerick, Vol. IV, Dublin.

Figure 2.4: First Ordnance Survey Map of Patrickswell - Edition 1840

From 1839 there was a Roman Catholic school containing 60 boys and 40 girls. The Roman Catholic parish church was located in Ballyanrahan West, which was replaced by another structure in Lurraga in 1847, functioning until the existing church was built in 1977 (Irwin, 2013, 182)[2].  The present day parish of Patrickswell-Ballybrown consists of parts of the pre Reformation parishes of Kilkeedy, Killonahan, Mungret, Croom and Adare. Until the middle of the 18th Century, the parishes of Kilkeedy and Clounanna were joined with Adare.  When the parish of Patrickswell was formed, Kilkeedy and Clounanna became part of the new parish.

[2] Irwin, L.2013 The diocese of Limerick: an illustrated history, Holywood, Co. Down.

2.4 Recent Development and Current Context

Patrickswell village retains the appearance of a linear settlement with many traditional single storey buildings located along its Main Street. The village centre stretches along the old N20 national road and consists mainly of retail, commercial, public/institutional buildings and some dwellings. A more loosely knit pattern of development, consisting mainly of dwellings, spreads further north from the Main Street. The settlement boundary straddles two Municipal Districts, the Metropolitan District of Limerick and the Municipal District of Adare Rathkeale.

Patrickswell is essentially a linear village having developed along the old N20 Limerick to Cork road. It has a largely fragmented urban form with developments from different periods dispersed loosely around the built-up area. Patrickswell is typical of an urban settlement located in a predominantly rural area. The village performs an important civic and service function, with a concentration of civic amenities including a Primary School, Garda Station, a Community Resource Centre and a church located just outside the village boundary. These provide services for the resident population and for a much wider rural based population. The majority of the village’s building stock is of nineteenth and early twentieth century origin. The village lacks a strong urban structure but displays a number of notable buildings, including the former parochial house at Ballyanrahan East, the Community Resource Centre building, the Dark Horse pub and the Cύ Chulainn bar located on Main Street.

Figure 2.5: Residential Estates in Patrickswell  

The population of Patrickswell grew gradually over the latter two decades of the twentieth Century. The attractiveness of the village, as a dormitory village for Limerick City began to emerge in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s however, at this time, infrastructure constraints meant that only limited development occurred. These constraints continued into the first decade of the 2000’s. The lack of waste-water treatment infrastructure had, up until 2013 stifled growth in Patrickswell, however a number of planning permissions, having being granted since the adoption of the 2015 LAP, some of which are now being activated and construction is evident in the village. A Limerick City and County Council housing scheme was completed in 2019 with the delivery of 16 no. units in Ballyhanrahan East. An additional Limerick City and County Council Part 8 consent on the Clarina Road for 24 no. units was permitted in 2022. 

Having regard to its historic importance, its location in the Limerick-Shannon Metropolitan Area and high quality connectivity, the Limerick Development Plan identifies Patrickswell as a Level 4 settlement in the settlement hierarchy for Limerick, in terms of population growth. For Patrickswell to fulfil its role as a Level 4 settlement, the village requires consolidation of land use, investment in services, infrastructure, sustainable transport options, amenities and local employment balanced with supporting the existing residential, community and providing for additional housing growth.


2.5 Plan Issues and Development Challenges

On review of the existing Local Area Plan for Patrickswell, a number of key issues, considerations and challenges were highlighted, which have shaped the overall policies and objectives of the Draft Plan. 

Patrickswell has a number of positive attributes that create a distinct sense of place. In particular, its sporting history has placed Patrickswell at the forefront of GAA both at a local, county and national level. However, the lack of amenities and quality of open space, particularly in the village centre, is undermined somewhat by a combination of poor public realm, lack of residential development within the village and property vacancy or neglect on the Main Street. Phase 2 of a Village Renewal Scheme on Main Street, which seeks to upgrade the public realm and remodel the street to improve traffic management and active travel connectivity, is currently under construction. Separately, the economy of the village is predominantly based on the service sector, including pubs, takeaways and professional services. Commuting patterns further highlight the limited employment opportunities within the settlement, with 68% travelling outside the settlement for work purposes (Census 2016).

Patrickswell has faced challenges in relation to vacancy, declining vibrancy and deficiency in transport infrastructure. This plan seeks to balance the needs of the local community, businesses, landowners and the environment along with enabling Patrickswell to become an important local driver and self-sufficient village, providing a range of functions for its resident population and the surrounding catchment. Patrickswell’s strategic location benefiting from its close proximity to Limerick City and ease of access to the N/M20 Motorway, makes it a desirable location for future development. With a relatively compact village and the centre being readily accessible within a ten-minute walk time, opportunities exist for achieving modal shift targets for short journeys.

2.6 SCOT Analysis

The SCOT Analysis is a study of the Strengths, Challenges, Opportunities and Threats that exist within Patrickswell. Such analysis identifies both the key issues in Patrickswell and the opportunities that exist to address these issues. The SCOT Analysis provided for in Figure 2.6 below, has helped inform the overall development strategy for the Plan Area.

Figure 2.6: SCOT Analysis of Patrickswell