Ireland Travel and Culture

Travel in Ireland: Bunratty Castle and Folk Park

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Bunratty Castle in Co. Clare, is one of Ireland's finest medieval castles. Built in 1425, it is a cross between earlier Norman Castles and the later Gaelic tower houses. The Normans frequently built "motte and bailey" type structures - a watchtower on an artificial hill and surrounded by a stockade and designed with defense in mind. Later, Irish chieftains copied this defensive structure and in the 15th Century many of these castles sprung up around the Bunratty area.

Bunratty Castle consists of a rectangular tower with three main floors and four six-story corner turrets and it was destroyed and rebuilt after battles on at least eight occasions. In 1954 it was perfectly restored to its original state and is now furnished with authentic medieval furniture, armorial stained glass, magnificent tapestries and fine works of art.

During the day visitors can enjoy tours of the castle and at night can indulge in a recreated medieval banquet. It is a chance to relive the tremendous feasts that the Earl of Thomond would have attended and just for a while to imagine you are part of those 15th Century celebrations.

Adjoining the castle is the Bunratty Folk Park - a recreation of a 19th Century Irish village covering 26 acres. The park is a living museum and visitors can watch someone bake bread, a blacksmith fit a horseshoe or someone thatch a roof. In an attempt to make the village as real as possible the streets are lined with thatched cottages, farmhouses, school, pub, post office, Church, shops and an hotel - all open to visitors. It is truly a step back in time.
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