Bunratty: Ireland’s Most Authentic Medieval Castle

I beg to differ with anybody who says Bunratty Castle is overrated. I think it’s been underrated by several of the popular guidebooks and would prefer a day strolling through the castle and folk park here any day to trying to hang upside down so I could kiss the Blarney Stone. I mean, really…think about it…Of course, by the time we arrived, Alan could only think of one thing: “I hope they have a tea room with good food and a good view!” Ah…we were in luck! 🙂We got to sit at the best table in the house and enjoyed steaming pots of tea with egg salad sandwiches and carrot cake. If you know Alan, you know this was a big hit! (And, he deserved lots of good food and appreciation, because he did 100% of the driving—a very difficult job with his crazy wife planning the itinerary!)With proper sustenance and renewed courage, we were ready to storm the castle.Bunratty (“at the bottom of the river”) has a long history, dating back to 970 when Vikings first erected dwellings here along an estuary of the Shannon River. The present castle was completed in 1425 AD by the MacNamara family, although—like all good castles—it was fought over and passed from man to man and clan to clan, with the most powerful clan in the area, the O’Briens holding it until 1646 when the last O’Brien (christened “Brian O’Brien”) left for England.The present castle was bought by the 7th Viscount Gort in 1954 and has been wonderfully restored to give an authentic representation of a medieval fortress fully furnished and decorated with over 450 treasures from the 15-16th centuries. They also let you roam at will and take pictures, which is a real bonus!Bunratty has become famous for their (also authentic) medieval banquets featuring foods from that era, period costumes, and musical entertainment. If you want to attend a banquet, book reservations months in advance and be prepared to pay as much as you would for a day at Disney.

To conquer the castle, first you have gain access via the drawbridge, which we accomplished under cover of day.Having defeated all foes on the ground level, we charged up the stairs.After several terrific skirmishes, we were able to take the turretsand banished all our enemies to the dungeon.Once we were able to ascertain that all evil doers were captured or had fled,we were able to take a break and assess the situation.We were definitely famished, and so we raided the pantry first.We’d never tried cooking in a tortoise shell before, but it seemed to work.The dining room was more than adequate…even for someone with an appetite as immense as Stephen’s!Then, we were ready for a nap. The straw-stuffed mattresses in the servants’ quarters weren’t very soft, and the dead fox motif didn’t appeal,so we tried out all the rooms until—like Goldilocks—we found some comfy beds.Alan and I really loved the hand-carved wardrobe in the room we chose,and their library was incredibly ornate. It even had stained glass windows!Speaking of windows, did you know that medieval castles were really dark? Alan had so much trouble trying to read that we decided to give the castle back. After all was said and done, we all agreed that we’re really glad to be living in the light ages instead of the dark ages! 🙂

“Giving thanks unto the Father…who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.”

Colossians 1:12-14