Featured image of Bunratty Castle

The History of Bunratty Castle

LocationBunratty, County Clare, Ireland (Google Maps)
Open for visitorsYes
Owned byClare County Council
Official WebsiteBunratty Castle
Rooms AvailableNo

Built in 1250 by Robert De Muscegros, a Norman, Bunratty Castle is one of the National monuments of Ireland. Located in the center of the Bunratty village, this place covers a whole area near Shannon town and the adjoining Folk Park.

History

“Bunratty” is an Irish name that means “river basin” or “Ratty” river signifying the river alongside the caste that flows to the Shannon estuary. The first stone to be established on the site was by Robert De Muscegores, a Norman, who was granted permission to do the same by King Henry III of England. The first castle constructed there was of motte and bailey. A few years later, in approximately 1276, the same land was handed back to King Henry III over some dispute which he subsequently granted to Thomas De Clare, a descendant of Strongbow. De Clare built the first stone castle on the disputed land, which consisted of a large single stone tower with lime white walls. In 1284, the site was captured and destroyed by the O’briens and their allies which led to its reconstruction in 1287. Unfortunately, in the Irish Bruce Wars, De Clare and his son Richard were killed, and the castle was burnt down.

The present castle, which is the fourth structure, was built by the MacNamara family around 1425. For many years the castle kept on changing hands; it was captured by some very powerful clans until, in the 19th century, it finally came into the hands of the Royal Irish Constabulary. In 1956, the castle was purchased and restored by the 7th Viscount Gort with the assistance of the Office of Public Works. He reestablished the disrupted insides of the castle and saved it. The castle was opened to the public in 1960 with a view of sporting furniture, tapestries, and works of art from the 1600s.

Tourism

Bunratty Castle is very popular for its Folk park. Bunratty Folk Park is spread across a span of 26 acres of land with reproductions of traditional Irish country cottages and homesteads from the Victorian era. There are various guides full-time available to guide the visitors through demonstrations of old crafts from bread baking, stonewall building, butter making to even traditional farming methods. Though being one of the greatest attractions of Bunratty Castle, the greatest of all highlights is undoubtedly the castle itself. The castle is present in all its glory, which was refurbished in 1954. Furnished with a fabulous collection of 15th and 16th-century hand-carved furnishings and tapestries, the castle is famous for its medieval banquets, which are held twice nightly in a year and are a must-visit. Bunratty also holds regular Irish Nights in the Corn Barn of the Fold Park; all decked up with singers, dancers, performers, and wonderful musicians celebrating in sweet Irish melodies.

Bunratty Castle and Folk Park
Bunratty Castle and Folk Park”, by KnitSpirit, is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Movie Features

Great castles of Europe– Bunratty Castle was featured in one of the episodes of a TV series directed by Mark Verkik, wherein the castle and its history were discussed.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Why is Bunratty Castle famous?

Bunratty Castle is particularly famous for the medieval banquets it holds twice a year. Bunratty Castle offers nights of merriment with great food, music, Irish assortments, and a lot of medieval vibes.

  • What happened at Bunratty Castle?

In the late 13th century, the Bunratty castle was attacked many times by the O’briens and their allies. The castle is specifically famous for switching possessions, witnessing wars, and being reconstructed over the course of time.

  • Why was Folk Park built in Bunratty?

Folk Park was built in the castle to function as a large kitchen garden for it. The garden would’ve been sufficient for the kitchen, and no other production garden would’ve been necessary for it.


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You can email us your pictures of the castle at castrumtocastle@gmail.com. Please use the name of the castle in the subject line.

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