Limerick is known as the Treaty City, so called after the Treaty of Limerick signed on the 3rd of October 1691 after the war between William III of Hanover of England and his Father in Law King James II.
Limericks role in the successful ascession of William of Orange and his wife Mary Stuart, daughter of King John II to the throne of England cannot be understated.
The Treaty, according to tradition was signed on a stone in the sight of both armies at the Clare end of Thomond Bridge on the 3rd of October 1691.(1)
The stone was for some years resting on the ground opposite its present location, where the old Ennis mail coach left to travel from the Clare end of Thomond Bridge, through Cratloe woods en route to Ennis.
The Treaty stone of Limerick has rested on a plinth since 1865, at the Clare end of Thomond Bridge. The pedestal was erected in May 1865 by John Rickard Tinslay, mayor of the city. (2)
The stone from its formation is something like a step and in its original position was near an Inn called the Black Bull, kept by a man called Marty Egan from nearby Thomondgate. It was found useful for women mounting and dismounting from what in olden days were called pillions. A pillion was an upholstered seat with a rest for the feet suspended from it by 2 leather straps and was placed on a horse behind a mans saddle. For this way the animal carried 2 comfortably, the man in front with woman sitting sideways behind him. When first introduced they were used by the better class, and were hansomely made of scarlet cloth, then rather costly. After a time they were made of drab cloth, being less expensive.
Another stone has claimed the doubtful honour that it had the Treaty signed on it. Prof. Denis Gwyan had an interesting article (Cork Examiner, 13th Jan 1962) on the Irish monument of Fontenoy, which was erected in 1907 and consists of a Celtic Cross on a granite base. The base has 2 inscriptions, one of which is translated as follows: "On this stone was signed the treaty by which England guaranteed religious liberty to the Irish people. She violated that treaty, and the Irishmen driven from their own country, enrolled with the armies of France and won renown on the battlefields of Europe"
Although tradition backs the theory of Treaty Stone, it is not unlikely to be true. A medal was struck to perpetuate the memory of the surrender of Limerick. The busts of King William and Queen Mary were represented. On the reverse was "Fame" sounding her trumpet, her wings spread, holding in her right hand a xxxx Crown and palm branch, which she extends towards a bright light diffused from heaven. The city is seen in the background, closely besieged, the bombs flying into it and round the medal this inscription; " Non haee sine numine Divum"- then things are due to propitious Heaven. On the exergue "Limerick cupta, Hibernia Subacta, October 1691"- Limerick taken and Ireland subdued in October 1691.
The stone on which this symbol of betrayal and broken promises was reputedly signed became and remains, the symbol of the city itself.