My Favourite Place - Dr Des Fitzgerald

President of University of Limerick, Dr Des Fitzgerald pays homage to one of the most beautiful places in Ireland.

The President’s House is one of the most beautiful and innovative buildings on campus.

It’s by far the largest and most unique of the 17 homes my wife Maggie and I have lived in during our life’s journey from Dublin to London, to the US and back. The house is meticulously looked after by Pat McMahon and the team in Buildings and Estates – a continuous challenge given the number of receptions held there for visitors and staff every month, all ably managed by Orla Kenny and the Aramark team.

My favourite part, though, is the riverbank by the house. It’s just 50 metres or so away, opposite the beach or the ‘Banks’ and lined with reeds, bulrushes and now early spring flowers. It’s a quiet spot except for the sound of the river and, on sunny summer days, the shouts and screams of kids jumping into the water from the ‘beach’, colloquially known as ‘The Sandys’.

The river changes constantly; sometimes it is as high as the garden of the fishing hut that sits just below the house, sometimes calm and other times rushing over the nearby rapids, churning grass and mud torn from the riverbed.

The fishing hut is one of a series sitting on what used to be the bank of the Shannon as it winds its way west, but peculiarly they are now well back from the river after Ardnacrusha hydroelectric station was built and the river diverted upstream of the campus. There’s quite a community of fishermen and hunters there in wildly different ‘huts’, including an old railway carriage.

I sit here reading and taking pictures on my phone of a constantly changing ‘garden’ like none I’ve ever had and feel privileged to witness one of the most beautiful places in Ireland.