Bunratty Castle & Folk Park situated in the heart of County Clare is one of Ireland’s premier visitor attractions is one of the finest surviving examples of an Irish tower house in Ireland
Bunratty Castle was built in 1425 by the MacNamaras and then passed to the O’Briens who were Earl of Thomond.
The Castle has had a bloody and violent history. Its strategic position on the river Shannon made it the centre of many a battle, and it has it has been destroyed and re-built on at least eight occasions.
Stone castles were first built by the Normans who guarded their territory from a structure known as a “motte and bailey” – a watch tower on an artificial hill, surrounded by a stockade.
The Irish chieftains soon copied this means of defence, particularly during the 15th century when there were over 80 tower houses in the baronies of Bunratty and Tulla.
Bunratty Castle is a cross between the earlier Norman Castles and later Gaelic tower houses. It is a rectangular tower with three main floors and four, six-storey corner turrets.
The Castle is the most complete and authentic medieval fortress in Ireland and contains furnishings, tapestries, and works of art from the period.
The castle is famous for the night time medieval banquets which operate there throughout the year (reservations necessary).
Bunratty Folk Park, set on 26 acres, is a stunning recreation of 19th Century Ireland and aims to show what everyday life was like in rural Ireland about 100 years ago.
It contains and features various types of farmhouses, a church, a magical walled garden and village street complete with pub, post office and various shops.
Care has been taken to make them as authentic as possible, particularly with regard to furnishings.
Bunratty Folk Park is a living museum : animals are tended, bread is baked, milk is churned, walls are whitewashed and roofs are thatched. You may visit an Irish farmhouse, watch the blacksmith fit a horseshoe, attend a weaving demonstration, and bake and eat scones at the local tea house.
A traditional Irish Night operates in the Folk Park on evenings from April – October.
Click here for full touring itinerary:The Best of Ireland Touring Itinerary
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