Want to head back in time, in Ireland? One of the best spots to do so is at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, in County Clare. It’s very close to the Shannon airport, so if you fly in and out of there, you’re only 5 minutes away
The Bunratty Castle and Folk Park is the home to both the Bunratty Castle (dating from the 15th century) and the Bunratty Folk Park (dating from the 19th century).
Bunratty Castle and Folk Park covers 26 acres, with over 30 buildings that show life in 19th century Ireland. You can see life in all socioeconomic classes in those times – wealthy, poor, working class. You can also visit schools, shops, a pub, and a post office. There are horses, gypsy carts, and even some very large Irish wolfhounds!
This living museum is an incredible way to learn about Irish history. There’s nothing like ducking into the short door of a small cottage, with a smoking fire inside, and seeing how people lived (and slept – tiny period beds!). A local thatcher works on the roofs, and costumed employees of Bunratty Folk Park cook from the times (we tried some apple pie), as well as teach classes in the school.
You can also explore Bunratty Castle, and even attend a Medieval banquet, as we did! The Castle was built at the location of a Viking camp (970). It was built several times after being destroyed, and was restored in the 1950s. There are lots of winding staircases, and it is very beautiful inside. The Medieval Banquet starts with period music and glasses of mead, and then moves to communal dining tables with entertainment from the fabulously dressed Bunratty Castle Entertainers, who are excellent musicians. The atmosphere is incredible – while touristy, definitely worth doing (and the food is delicious)!
If you’re anywhere on the west side of Ireland, it’s worth your time to visit Bunratty Castle & Folk Park – it gives a very real sense of Irish history.
Information: Bunratty Castle & Folk Park is run by Shannon Heritage, who “endeavours to preserve our culture and heritage, traditions and customs, castles and places of history for future generations to enjoy. Our attractions bring visitors into the magic and mystery of the Prehistoric, Celtic, Viking, Anglo-Norman and native Irish communities starting 5000 years ago and continuing to the present day.”
Open daily except for 3 days around Christmas.
For more information, please see:
Dr. Jessie Voigts is a mom who loves sharing the world with her daughter. She has a PhD in International Education, and is constantly looking for ways to increase intercultural understanding, especially with kids (it’s never too young to start!). She has lived and worked in Japan and London, and traveled around the world. Jessie is the publisher of Wandering Educators, a travel library for people curious about the world. She founded the Family Travel Bloggers Association, and directs the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program. She’s published two books about travel and intercultural learning, with several more on Moving to Southeast Asia on the way. You can usually find her family by water – anywhere in the world.