Bunratty, County Clare, Ireland
Bunratty Castle is situated alongside the River Ratty in the centre of the village between Shannon and Cork which are only 7 miles away.
The castle is a large single tower house over five floors, built in grey stone. It is the most authentically restored and complete medieval fortresses in Ireland and situated within a folk park of 26 acres.
The main attraction to visitors of Bunratty Castle is the collection of medieval furniture and objects with over 450 pieces on display. All the articles are genuine, not reproductions. There are knowledgeable guides to talk about both the pieces and life for the castles occupants.
The castle is open all year (with the exception of Christmas and good Friday) and closes at 16:00 to prepare for the nightly banquet; tickets are available separately.
The castle does not have its own restaurants or gift shop but they can all be found (along with a traditional pub) within the folk park.
The first stone castle to be built on the site was in the 1270’s by Thomas De Clare. In 1318 his son Richard was killed in battle and the castle and nearby town totally destroyed. The King of England restored Bunratty only for it to be demolished by Irish chieftains 14 years later when it was left in ruins for over 20 years and then rebuilt by Sir Thomas Rokeby before yet another attack by the Irish.
Today’s castle was built around 1425 by the MacNamara family. During a battle in 1475 it fell into the hands of the O’Brien clan who were granted the title of ‘Earls of Thomond’ by Henry VIII but later surrendered Bunratty to Cromwell’s troops. The last family to live at Bunratty was the Studdart family; they left in 1804 when it fell into disrepair.
In 1954 Viscount Lord Gort purchased the castle and restored it with the help of the Tourist Board and Government. In 1960 it was opened to the public as a national monument and is now managed by Shannon Heritage.
Other Castles in the Area
Adare Manor, County Limerick
Askeaton Castle, County Limerick
Bourchiers Castle, County Limerick
Carrigogunnell Castle, County Limerick
Desmond Castle, County Limerick
Dromoland Castle, County Clare
Dysert Castle, County Limerick
Dysert O'Dea Castle, County Clare
King Johns Castle, County Limerick
Knappogue Castle, County Clare
Matrix Castle, County Limerick
Shanid Castle, County Limerick