In 2014, Limerick became Ireland's inaugural National City of Culture, with a wide variety of artistic and cultural events occurring at various locations around the city throughout the entire year.
The Limerick City Gallery of Art on Pery Square is the city's chief venue for contemporary art exhibitions. It is home to a permanent collection of Irish art, which shows works from the early 18th to 20th century. The gallery houses the National Collection of Contemporary Drawing founded by the artist Samuel Walsh in 1987. Limerick's major contemporary art event is EVA International, Ireland's Biennial of Contemporary Art. EVA International (formerly EV+A – Exhibition of Visual+ Art) is curated by a new guest curator every two years and includes contemporary artworks by both international and Irish artists. The centre of the exhibition is the Limerick City Gallery of Art, but EVA generally uses numerous other venues throughout the city including public spaces.
The Lime Tree Theatre officially opened at the Mary Immaculate College campus on 30 October 2012. The modern venue is able to host theatre, music, comedy, traditional arts, schools' performances and conferences.
The Belltable Arts Centre on O'Connell Street (in liquidation as of February 2013) hosts for local playwriting and drama. Mike Finn's numerous plays have been successful, including Pigtown, set around a century of the city's history, and Shock and Awe, an energetic retelling of Homer's Iliad. The University Concert Hall located in UL is a 1,000 seat venue and provides a large venue for national and international acts to visit the city. Limerick is also the home of street theatre companies, including "The Umbrella Project".
Other active Limerick arts groups include Contact Studios, which provides individual studio spaces for visual artists; the Daghdha Dance Company, a contemporary dance company that has adopted a renovated church in John's Square, adjacent to St John's Cathedral, as a performance space); the Fresh Film Festival, which is held each spring, and includes films made by young people (7–18 years) from all over Ireland; Impact Theatre Company; and Limerick Printmakers Studio and Gallery, which provides printmaking facilities, a venue for exhibitions and events and an education programme. The Limerick Youth Theatre provides young people with an opening into acting and production. It received attention in the national media with its 2005 production of Romeo and Juliet, which made comparisons between the ongoing feud in the city with that of the Montagus and the Capulets in the play.
The Irish Chamber Orchestra and the Irish World Music Centre are both based in the University of Limerick. The university has a thousand-seat state-of-the-art concert hall that frequently hosts visiting performers. The city has an active music scene, which has produced bands such as The Cranberries and guitarist Noel Hogan's MonoBand, The Hitchers and many more. World-renowned electronic musician Richard D. James, more commonly known as Aphex Twin, was born in Limerick in 1971. The Limerick Art Gallery and the Art College cater for painting, sculpture and performance art of all styles.
Limerick is also home to comedians The Rubberbandits, D'Unbelievables (Pat Shortt and Jon Kenny) and Karl Spain. Dolan's Warehouse on the Dock Road has two venues specialising in live music; an upstairs venue which tends to accommodate comedians and folk and jazz acts, and a much larger warehouse venue holding 400, which tends to stage more popular (usually rock) acts, both national and international. Dance music is catered for at Baker Place which holds mainly local underground nights and Trinity Rooms which has regularly hosts big names like Hot Chip, Groove Armada, DJ Yoda and Jazzy Jeff alongside more cutting-edge names like Dan Le Sac, Christian Smith, and Missill.
The city is the setting for Frank McCourt's memoir Angela's Ashes and the film adaptation. The Frank McCourt Museum situated in Frank's former school on Hartsonge Street opened in 2011 and contains many artefacts from the book, it also houses Frank's Ashes. It is the setting for the contemporary coming-of-age drama Cowboys & Angels and Robert Cunningham's Somebody's Daughter], which was shot in various locations around the city and had its premiere in King John's Castle in July 2004.
A limerick is a type of humorous verse of five lines with an AABBA rhyme scheme: the poem's connection with the city is obscure, but the name is generally taken to be a reference to Limerick city or County Limerick, sometimes particularly to the Maigue Poets, and may derive from an earlier form of nonsense verse parlour game that traditionally included a refrain that included "Will [or won't] you come (up) to Limerick?" The earliest known use of the name "Limerick" for this type poem is an 1880 reference, in a Saint John, New Brunswick newspaper, to an apparently well-known tune.
Riverfest is an annual summer festival held in Limerick. The festival was begun in 2004. The 2014 festival was held from 2 to 5 May and had a record 80,000 visitors.