Limerick is located on the banks of Shannon, not far from the point where it opens out into a vast estuary, and it thus provided an ideal base from which to visit monuments both north and south of the river. One of intriguing aspects of this region is the survival of medieval friaries, many of which are still substantially intact, complete with intimate cloisters and elegant campaniles. The west of Ireland is indeed a locus classicus for the study of the mendicants, and survival of so many of their buildings is a reminder of their importance in medieval England. Limerick is also focal point for castle studies. Quite apart from the royal fortress in Limerick itself, there are major castles nearby at Adare and Askeaton, not to mention numerous late medieval tower houses. The modest scale of Irish churches and cathedrals is usually attributed to poverty of the country in the Middle Ages, but this is not the whole story.