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The College Guide To UL: Picturesque walks, hidden roof gardens, and scones to die for

A guide to the campus resting on the banks of the Shannon.

LYING ALONG THE banks of the River Shannon, University of Limerick (UL) has courses in nearly everything you can imagine.

Arts, education, health sciences, engineering, business – you name it, they have it. And the college is always building something new.

But it’s not an all work and no play kind of place. UL is known as ‘Ireland’s sporting campus’ and has an altitude training centre, Olympic-sized swimming pool and is Munster Rugby’s main training centre. Sure if it’s up to their high standards, it must be good.

If you’re planning on going to study in UL this year, here’s what you need to know before stepping on campus.

What’s the campus like? It’s a picturesque spot full of nature. Here you are beside the Stables – the social hub of the campus.

What’s the most Instagrammed place on campus? It’s not even a contest – the Living Bridge connecting two parts of the college and gives some wonderful views of the Shannon.

What’s the best spot for a chicken fillet roll? When you say “chicken” to any UL veteran, their mind will probably think of Chicken Hut’s famed gravy. But that’s a bit far for a quick lunch bite, so the Spar on campus is probably your best bet for a classic chicken fillet roll.

Overall, students are spoiled for choice. There’s over a dozen eateries, with the Paddocks Restaurant in the student centre doing nice home-cooked meals and Subway is popular for its meal deals.

Where are the best study hideouts? Glucksman Library is a serene spot, with lovely big windows and views. You can see the world go by, but that can also be a distraction.

After week seven, you will notice a pick up in demand for desks, so don’t expect to rock up and claim a spot. Postgrads have their personal study rooms, but undergrads aren’t so lucky and need to be sharp to find somewhere. Ask the library about the extra overflow rooms that are there to be used so you can pounce quickly.

Is there a bar on campus? The Stables is the focal point of UL’s social scene. It’s where people get lunch and for 30 years it’s also been a regular haunt for students who want a few drinks in the evening. But it’s not alone, The Scholars Club also attracts a crowd and is another good spot on campus.

How can you sound like a final year? Impress your new college friends by knowing that the Living Bridge is the longest pedestrian bridge in the country. And also get in their good books by bringing them on a trip to Chicken Hut at the end of a night out. Their gravy is a Limerick delicacy that has cult status in the city.

And for something a bit different, avail of Limerick’s busy museum scene. It’s a handy way to keep occupied on a tight budget since some spots like the Hunt Museum are free on Sundays.

But closer to campus, a little hidden gem worth knowing about is the college’s community roof garden. Accessible through the D1 corridor in the main building, it’s a nice spot away from the hustle and bustle and on rainy days is a great place to sit next to read a book.

Also, it won’t affect most people, but be mindful that UL has banned smoking and vaping on campus since 1 June last year.

What do UL students love about it? The many places to explore, says English and educational studies student Linda Thurein.

The beautiful river walk towards the city centre was one of my favourite things to do when I had some free hours in between my classes.

The location of the campus is also a plus, according to Skye Murphy, who is studying teacher training.

The majority of the students I know loved it for the campus placement in relation to the city – it’s adjacent to the river and out of the city a tad. The fact that there is such a high standard of education without being as stuck up as some other colleges and universities would be a plus too.

And… what do they NOT love about it? Skye says finding accommodation is a problem for students.

The only complaints I’ve heard about UL is in the past few years where people have been upset with rising rent rates, and the quality of external housing. And some don’t like the trek it takes to get to the city if needs be.

What should freshers know? Certain cafés should be on your to-do list, says Linda.

The coffee shop right beside the library offers the best scones, at least that’s what I think.

If you have a car, leave it at home, says Skye.

Try not drive to college, if you can. Parking is so difficult to find, or is just expensive!

Who should I follow? Whether it’s the exploits of the UL students involved in the hockey world cup or notable research by his fellow academics, college president Des Fitzgerald is always shouting loudly about how great UL is.

For matters of a more national, or worldly, nature associate professor of economics Stephen Kinsella is worth a follow. He has a knack for distilling complex social and economic issues with one tweet. Handy for those water cooler moments where you want to sound smart.

And if you want some updates on what the need-to-know news is on campus, look no further than student newspaper An Focal.

What’s the accommodation situation? Like most spots in the country, it’s not easy finding accommodation as a student in Limerick, but the college has some services available for students that need help finding a place. Here’s a look at rentals in the area on Daft.ie.

If you want to be near the action on campus, UL has around 2,700 rooms spread across six residential villages that are available at a range of prices.

UL in numbers

  • 10: The height of UL’s new book vault in metres. The vault has the capacity to store 500,000 books. It has a robotic crane and everything.
  • 137.5: The size of the campus – in hectares – that is spread across the two banks of the Shannon.
  • 3,529: That’s how big in square metres the new student centre building, beside the Stables and the Library, will be when it’s finished.
  • 12,000: Give or take the number of students that study at UL each year.
  • 600,000: The hefty number of visitors to the sports arena on campus each year. It has the largest artificial grass development in Europe.

Are you going to UL this coming semester (or is it your alma mater)? Share your opinion in the comments!

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