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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Bunratty Castle

The first Bunratty Castle was constructed in 1250 and consisted of a earthen mound with a wooden tower. Throughout it's history Bunratty changed hands, was destroyed, rebuilt and destroyed again. In 1425 the current castle was built by the MacNamara clan and was surrounded by a village of over 1,000 habitants. The castle fell into disrepair until the Viscount Lord Gort purchased the land and building in 1954. He then began extensive renovation on the castle and it opened to the public in 1962. Bunratty has a fascinating history if you would like to learn more.

We visited Bunratty the same day we visited Knappogue Castle. They are only a 20 minute drive from one another. This castle and it's medieval banquet came highly recommended by everyone we spoke to. There is free parking for this castle and they had the biggest parking lot of all the castles we visited on our trip. We arrived later in the afternoon, and were not able to get a reservation to the medieval banquet for that night; so we prebooked a reservation for the following night. We purchased our tickets and followed the pathway to the castle. We had limited time before closing and the castle was a higher priority than the folk park.

Bunratty Castle was definitely the biggest castle we saw and the most functioning castle we saw. A lot of the castles we saw were in disrepair, but because of the renovation done on the castle it was like walking through time. Every room was restored to look as it would have in 1425.

Bunratty was a very imposing castle and cold! I had always read about how drafty and cold castles were, but its completely different to experience it in person. It's a self guided tour through the castle. Guests can stay as long or as little in each room as they would like.

Ready for Battle
The great room was cavernous. It was easy to imagine the laird of the clan listening to his subjects complaints in this room. On the upper level of the castle there is a peephole in the wall looking down in the great room. How many people have stood there ease dropping on conversations in history past? Some rooms did have railings preventing the furniture and tapestries from being ruin. They also ask that you refrain from using flash photography in parts of the castle. The flash will deteriorate the tapestries.

No further entrance

Nook in the room above the Great Hall

Visitors are able to visit the dungeon and battlements at the very top of the castle. The dungeon wasn't something to get too excited about, but they are dungeons. Visitors are able to take the stairs down into a little hole, turn around and walk back up. I can tell you that it made the day of every child we saw.

I liked that we were able to visit the battlements. Most castles have those closed off to visitors. The views were amazing!

Warning: be careful when coming back down. The stairways were extremely crowded with people trying to come up, so it created a bit of a jam. This is a castle that requires you to be mobile. There are lots and lots of stairs. If mobility is a problem you would only be able to access the Great Hall. Overall, I'm so glad that we stopped and visited this castle. It was beautifully restored and it was incredibly easy to imagine someone living in the castle during 1425. The ticket price includes Bunratty Castle and Bunratty Folk Park (look for the review in the next post). Please leave any comments or questions below.

Ticket Prices:

Adult: 10 euros
Child 6-16 years: 8 euros
Child 0-6: FREE!!
Seniors: 9.45 euros
Here is the link to purchase tickets for Bunratty Castle and Folk Park:

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