I’ve visited Bunratty Castle and Folk Park three times on vacation to Ireland. The first time was in 2002. I was traveling alone and set to fly out of Shannon the next morning. My incredible hostess Marian O’Meara at Estuary View B&B insisted that a Medieval Banquet should not be missed. As I thawed from a visit to the Cliffs of Moher with hot tea and a warm bath, Marian arranged my evening- everything from the banquet ticket to transportation (she didn’t want me to have to drive back to the B&B after drinking mead and wine all evening). I remember my evening at Estuary View fondly; Marian is a most welcoming hostess.
My second stop at Bunratty Castle was in 2005 with my husband and daughter Brenna, who was then 1 year old. In 2008 we returned with Brenna, now 3 1/2, Caelan, aged 18 months, and my mother – on her first trip to Ireland. The following post is excerpted from posts written for my site Family Rambling. (Original posts: May 2007 Bunratty Castle and Folk Park and May 2008 More Bunratty Castle and Folk Park)
Bunratty Castle and Folk Park deserves at least half a day. Which half really depends on the age of your children.
If your kids are older- and not picky eaters- I suggest making this your afternoon and evening entertainment and joining the festivities at the Medieval Banquet.
Bunratty Castle was built in 1425 and restored in 1954 and contains 15th and 16the century furnishings, art and tapestries. (You can view these items by clicking here) You are allowed to wander through the castle at your own pace. It is possible to climb to the roof of the castle and look out over the “kingdom”.
Just keep in mind that anything above the lowest level of the castle is centuries old and therefore accessible only by very narrow,very steep, very windy steps. If your kids aren’t walking don’t forget your carriers as strollers will not be able to be taken above the main level.
The Bunratty Folk Park is a fabulous adventure for the whole family. Filled with examples of Irish homes, shops and a village there is plenty to explore. Many of the buildings were disassembled at their original locations and rebuilt at Bunratty; you really get a feel of what Irish life was like from medieval times until quite recently.
The village is “fully functioning” with costumed performers going about their “lives”. It includes a school, a doctor, a pub, pawnbroker, printer and post office- to list just a few. Be prepared to stop and chat with both the “citizens” of Bunratty as well as other visitors. And don’t forget to take time to sample the fresh baked items in the Tea Room or a pint at the pub.
If you like to garden- or just enjoy looking at a beautiful garden- don’t miss the Bunratty Walled Garden, modeled after gardens of the Regency era. It is beautifully laid out and a joy to wander through.
If the Medieval Banquet isn’t on your agenda but you would like to have an Irish Experience you might enjoy the Traditional Irish Night. This evening is not so formal as the banquet and includes live music and dancing as well as traditional Irish food.