Ireland Calling
Ireland Calling Store

Bunratty Castle – a passport to another time

Bunratty Castle is a medieval castle on the River Shannon in the village of Bunratty in County Clare.

Bunratty Folk Park
Attractions in Ireland

Along with the folk park next to it, the castle is a passport to another time where you can experience life in Ireland in the 19th century.

The area is run by Shannon Heritage and they have gone to great effort to restore old ruins and construct new period buildings so visitors can get an authentic glimpse at how Irish people of differing social status, from lords to gypsies, used to live.

Bunratty Castle on the River Shannon is a passport to another time

There is entertainment in the form of medieval banquets in the castle and the folk park contains several elements of the lives of the villagers.

Castle in mouth of Ratty

The name Bunratty Castle comes from the Irish ‘Caisleán Bhun Raithe’, which means ‘Castle in the mouth of Ratty’.

The first incarnation of the castle was built in 1270, about 300 years after the Vikings first settled in the area. It was used as a defence fortress or ‘motte and bailey’ castle and contained a watch tower.

Over the centuries the castle has been taken over several times by the English and each time the Irish clans like the O’Briens and the MacNamaras have eventually fought to reclaim it.

Bunratty Castle copyright Tourism Ireland

It has been destroyed and rebuilt a number of times, often after it had been fought over but also when it had been neglected and left to lie in ruins for several years.

The Irish laid siege to the castle

The current structure of the castle was built by the MacNamara clan in 1425. It is a three storey high rectangular building with two towers on opposite corners. It wasn’t long before the O’Briens, who were the more powerful clan, claimed the castle for themselves.

Over the years the O’Briens became more friendly with the English nobility and when Barnabas O’Brien gave permission for the English Parliamentary garrison to land in Bunratty in 1646, it did not go down well with the Irish.

They laid siege to the castle and O’Brien had to flee to England for his own safety. The castle was taken by the Studdert family but they left in the early 1800s after they built Bunratty House which was more homely and modern.

Today the Castle and Park are used to entertain visitors.

Click to find out more about Bunratty folk park and Medieval banquets at the castle.

Sign up to our FREE newsletters

Please click on your confirmation email,
Check your junk mail folder in case it gets sent there.

Bunratty Castle
Bunratty Folk Park

Visit IrelandMore on Irish holidays

Tourist attractions in Ireland

Celtic Symbol Bags at Ireland Calling store The Blarney Stone
Bru na Boinne
Bunratty Castle
The Burren
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
The Cliffs of Moher
Croagh Patrick
Dingle Peninsula
Garnish Island
The Giant's Causeway
The Guinness Storehouse
Hill of Tara
Lakes of Killarney
The Peace Bridge
Ring of Kerry
Wild Atlantic Way
Personalised Celtic prints. Ireland Calling store

Irish cities


Tourism articles

TripAdvisor's top 10 destinations in Ireland for 2015
Top holiday destinations in Ireland - as voted by the Irish
Top holiday destinations in Ireland - as voted by tourists

Ireland's favourite heritage site
The most romantic city in Ireland
Hidden gems in Ireland

The top ten Irish beaches
Where would Irish people take overseas guests?
Tips for first time visitors to Ireland

What not to do when visiting Ireland
Ireland's top sacred pilgrimage sites
Eight reasons why Irish pubs are Ireland's top attractions

What do you like about Ireland?
Local Irish pubs number one attraction for tourists
Tourists happy with 'value for money' on visits to Ireland

Video - initiative to promote 'Ireland's Ancient East'
Ireland can boast the best 'cliff view' in the world
Most visited tourist attractions in Ireland in 2014?

Industry warned not to 'repeat the mistakes of the past'
Dublin 'favourite worldwide city' for young travellers
Which tourist attractions in Ireland made the Lonely Planet's ultimate guide?

Dublin is one of the world's top three cities say Lonely Planet
Ireland has three of the world's four friendliest cities

XSLT Plugin by Leo Jiang