The castle is famous for the medieval banquets they put on for visitors, though I must admit we did not attend one since I’m not really into that sort of entertainment! For me, just wandering up through the many floors of the castle and through its rooms was super interesting.
It is believed the first wooden castle was built on the hill around 1250, and Bunratty castle and village were granted the right to hold markets and an annual fair. Unfortunately, the prosperous castle and town were not to be granted a peaceful existence.
Typical of the capricious favors of royalty in those days, the land was seized by the crown and re-granted to Richard de Clare (descendent of Strongbow) who built the first stone castle in 1276. Continuous attacks by the O’Briens (the most powerful clan in Munster) and then The Irish Bruce Wars, took their toll on the castle and it was destroyed. Another castle was built in the 14th century, but as Irish/English conflict continued, this castle did not survive either.
In 1712 the castle was sold and over the next 200 years allowed to fall into disrepair. Lucky for us, in 1956, the castle was purchased by the 7th Viscount Gort, who restored it with the help of the government and opened it to the public.
The furnishings, tapestries and works of art you see at the castle now are from the 15th and 16th century and if you would like an in-depth look at them, go to the BunrattyCollection.com website, where you can learn all about the fabulous items inside the castle before you visit!
The Private Apartments and Bedrooms
One of the Kitchen and Service Rooms
Since it is a living museum, you will be able to interact with people who are dressed in costume of the period and busily going about their daily chores and craftsmen work at their handicrafts like milling, blacksmithing, making pottery, printing, baking and farming. There is even an old style Irish pub where you can get a pint of beer! And best of all, we finally found our Peat fire!
Typical 19th Century Cottages with Peat Fires
Early 20th Century Irish Home with the "Woman of the House" doing house-chores
Bunratty Castle and Folk Park is an incredibly informative and fun place to visit
and if you have children, it should be a must-see on your itinerary!