Over the years the castle was neglected and became uninhabitable but was used by the police as barracks.
It was restored to its former glory after being purchased by the 7th Viscount Gort in 1954. It now contains the country’s most impressive collection of medieval Celtic furniture and tapestries.
In 1963, they started to entertain visitors to the castle with medieval banquets and they have been doing so ever since. This includes dinner, drinks, music, dancing and medieval entertainment.
Visitors are also allowed to explore narrow corridors and impressive rooms of the castle. Notable rooms you won’t want to miss are Great Hall, the Earl’s Chamber and the chapel.
The folk park is next to the castle. It is a fun destination for families. Thousands of tourists visit every year.
It takes you back in time to 19th century Ireland. The main street in the village is full of houses and cottages built to look like they were from that era. They are filled with old period furniture.
The feeling of authenticity in the houses is increased by the smell of peat fires, which would have been used for warmth in the 19th century.
Some of the houses are small, just one storey high but there are also some that are two storeys high where the more wealthy residents would have lived.
You get a taste of what life was like for people in different classes of Irish society. You can see tools including old Irish gypsy carts.
There are shops still open in the village including a bakery where you can have tea and scones and a pub where you can sit over a pint and watch the ‘olden’ world go by.
The folk park has been called a ‘living museum’. It includes women dressed in outfits of the day. They are seen churning milk, baking pies or weaving. There are also blacksmiths shoeing horses.
The park contains lots of animals including ponies, sheep and livestock roaming around. There is also an Irish wolfhound exhibit and there are two wolfhounds in the folk park that you can see.
A big barn in the village stages ceilis, where you can listen to local music and old stories.
The Bunratty Castle and Folk Park offer a fascinating insight into how Irish society and culture of yesteryear worked, making it one of the area’s leading tourist attractions.
Take a look at the video on Bunratty Banquets below.
Bunratty Folk Park