Limerick, Maine

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Limerick (pronounced "LIM-rick") is a town in York County, Maine, United States. It is part of the PortlandSouth PortlandBiddeford, Maine metropolitan statistical area. The population was 2,240 at the 2000 census.



This was territory of the Newichewannock Abenaki Indians, whose village was located on the Salmon Falls River. In 1668, Francis Small of Kittery, a trader, bought from Chief Captain Sunday (or Wesumbe) a large tract of land, for which he exchanged two blankets, two gallons of rum, two pounds of gunpowder, four pounds of musket balls and twenty strings of beads. Small thereupon sold half of his interest to Major Nicholas Shapleigh of Eliot, one of the wealthiest merchants in the Piscataqua region. [1]

Settlement was delayed, however, by the ongoing French and Indian Wars, which finally ended with the 1763 Treaty of Paris. In 1773, the heirs of Francis Small and Nicholas Shapleigh promised a township to lawyer James Sullivan of Biddeford if he defended their larger claims. Sullivan accepted and in 1775 helped settle Limerick Plantation, named after Limerick in Ireland, his father's birthplace. It would be incorporated on March 6, 1787. Among the early settlers was Dr. Joshua Leavitt, for whom Leavitt Brook in Limerick is named. The town of New Limerick in Aroostook County would be settled by people from Limerick, Maine.

The village grew along the old Sokokis Trail (now Route 5), which connected the Sokokis village at Pequawket (now Fryeburg) to the tribe's coastal encampment at what is today Saco. Endowed with good soil, Limerick became a thriving farming community. Chief crops included hay, apples, grapes and cranberries. Cattle and dairy products were important. In addition, the town had four blacksmith shops, four shoemakers, two hatmakers, two harness makers and three tanneries. Various brooks provided water power for industry, including four furniture factories and a clothing factory. There were also gristmills, shingle mills and lumber mills. In 1826 the Morning Star, a Free Will Baptist abolitionist newspaper, was founded in the town. In 1846, James Bradbury established the Limerick Manufacturing Company at Brown Brook. It was bought in 1857 by Joshua Holland. The firm produced the nationally famous Holland Blankets, which were supplied to troops during the Civil War. A village once called Hollandville developed around the mill. [2]

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