A couple of months ago we created a list of five popular castles around Ireland to share with you. (Read that story here.) Soon after that post, we quickly realized five was not enough! Ireland is filled with amazing castles—many of which are open for touring and exploring. In this new series, which will appear here periodically over the next few months, we’ll take a deeper look at more of Ireland’s historic, breathtaking castles. This week, we’re stepping into Bunratty Castle.
Bunratty Castle is in southern County Clare near the County Limerick line. It is located just miles from N18. The land on which the castle is situated was originally a Viking trading camp.
The present castle, which is the fourth to be constructed on the site, was built in 1425. During the 19th century it was unoccupied and fell into disrepair until the mid 1950s when Viscount Lord Gort purchased the property and restored it to its former glory with aid from the Office of Public Works, the Irish Tourist Board and Shannon Development. In 1962 it opened for visitors year-round, and today it is touted as the most complete and authentically restored and furnished castle in Ireland.
In addition to the castle, a visit to Bunratty should include time spent at the adjoining Folk Park. Here, you will experience life as it was in 19th century Ireland, complete with villagers in period costumes and the opportunity to visit buildings of the era, including a vertical mill, grocery, post office, pub, and more.
While you are at Bunratty Castle, also be sure to see the Walled Garden. This area was built around 1804 and functioned as a small garden on the east side of the estate.
The Castle’s Interior:
Lord and Lady Gort along with archaeologist John Hunt and his wife Gertrude, spent countless hours furnishing the castle with medieval furniture, artwork, and pieces that would have been a part of every day life at the time the castle was constructed. Guided tours are available or your can browse at your own leisure.
While you’re visiting, be sure to book a ticket for dinner at the castle’s medieval banquet. These nightly meals offer a glimpse of days gone by complete with musical entertainment and visits from characters in period costumes.
Additionally, Bunratty Castle continues its enchanting tradition by hosting birthday parties and special occasions. Costumed guides are available to entertain small children or give tours of the castle and folk park, making it a destination that continues to delight visitors of all ages from both near and far.
Bunratty Castle is open year-round from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Learn more at shannonheritage.com.