Ireland has an amazingly vast history for such a small island. Celts, Picts, Vikings, Normans, and the English all called Ireland theirs at one time or another. A stroll through Ireland’s history at Craggaunowen takes you from the late Bronze age (1200-500 BC) through the Elizabethan Period (1558-1603) in an interactive history lesson that is both fun and easy to understand.
Located in County Clare, just east of Ennis, a visit to Craggaunowen can easily be combined in a day trip to visit the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, or Bunratty Castle.
Relying on our sat nav got us close to the Living Past Experience, but it was the signs, sometimes difficult to see, that finally led us to Craggaunowen.
We were greeted by shaggy ponies, adorable donkeys and Bronze age Soay Sheep on either side of the spacious parking area and it took a few minutes before my daughters were persuaded to leave the “sweet, adorable” animals and enter the small cottage that houses the Visitor’s Centre. As I picked up our tickets and received an overview of the Craggaunowen map, the girls kept themselves busy studying the trinkets for sale in the gift shop.
Ireland’s History at Craggaunowen
Craggaunowen is set up as a self guided walk. Information plaques and the detailed map provide the history of each point of interest, while costumed characters appear at many points throughout the Experience, providing hands-on history lessons.
Beginning at Craggaunowen Castle, labeled #1 on the map, we set out on our exploration. Though sparsely furnished, you can explore to the very top of the castle, which gives you a nice view of the surrounding demense. Descending back to the first floor, we were greeted by a weaver, who taught my girls how wool was prepared and spun in the 16th century.
Following the numerical map, we discovered Ireland’s ancient history.
We spent nearly 2 hours wandering the grounds, exploring Ireland’s history. While Craggaunowen could be toured in less time than that, I wish we had visited earlier in the days so we had more time for historic discoveries.
Craggaunowen Quick Facts
Craggaunowen is managed by Shannon Heritage. Discount tickets may be purchased online at the Shannon Heritage website.
Though paths are cleared, they are not paved. Wear good walking shoes. Some areas may not be accessible to those with mobility issues.
Craggaunowen is open spring through fall; check the Shannon Heritage website for dates and hours.