Nestled away in Bunratty Village in Ireland’s County Clare, Bunratty Castle and the nearby Folk Park are absolute treasures and are both major tourist attractions for the area.
With an expansive, vast, and layered history dating back to the year 970 were an early Viking trading camp stood in its place, Bunratty Castle is absolutely fascinating, and there is so much to discover here.
Whether you have a young family, are a history lover, or are seeking a romantic getaway, Bunratty Castle and the surrounding Folk Park have so much to offer. Here is everything you will need to know:
A Guide to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park
How to Get to Bunratty Castle
The closest airport to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park is Shannon Airport (SNN). There are several ways that you can travel to the castle, and each depends on which mode of transport you find most comfortable, the number of travelers, and your budget.
One option is to take the Line 343 Bus, which takes approximately 26 minutes and can cost anywhere between 7 and 10 Euro per trip, depending on the time of year and the age of the traveler. However, this mode of transport takes the longest and is not the most direct route from the airport to Bunratty Castle.
Alternatively, you can take a taxi from the airport, which will take just ten minutes, and cost anywhere between 20 and 27 Euro. It is metered, so the price will depend on traffic, etc.
You could also hire a car at the airport, which will take the same amount of time as the taxi, but it will cost more. However, this is a great option if you are exploring more of the area afterward.
History of Bunratty Castle
Before the current Bunratty Castle was constructed, a Viking trading camp stood on the site, which dates back to the year 970. The castle that stands today is actually the last of four castles to be built on the grounds.
Bunratty Castle is one of Ireland’s most iconic castles and one of the country’s most authentic medieval castles, and it has a long and fascinating history.
With its origins dating back to 1425, after it was founded by the powerful MacNamara family, it soon fell into the hands of the O’Brien family by 1475, who were a prominent clan in Munster, and later Earls of Thomond.
The O’Brien’s were formally granted the title of Earls of Thomond, so long as they agreed to profess their undying loyalty to the King of England, which they did.
They were forced to abandon their Irish traditions, as well as renounce their Catholic faith, and instead, adhere to the principles of the emerging Anglican church.
Unfortunately, Bunratty Castle fell into disrepair in the year 1804, and it was eventually purchased again in 1954 by Viscount Lord Gort, who set out to restore the castle to its former glory.
With the renovation work beginning in 1945, with the aid of several authorities, and it first opened its doors to the public in 1962, and has been a National Monument and symbol of heritage ever since.
Inside Bunratty Castle, curious visitors can explore furnishings that date back to the 15th and 16th centuries, tapestries that are incredibly well-preserved for their age, and works of art that truly capture a time gone by.
A fun fact about Bunratty Castle is it is actually the most complete and authentically restored and furnished castle in the whole of Ireland, and you really feel as though you have gone back in time as soon as you step inside.
Bunratty Castle Folk Park
Covering over 26 acres of expansive and beautiful land, as well as over 30 buildings that make up a ‘living’ village, the Folk Park is a fantastic place to visit on a day trip.
One of the highlights is The Village Street, which is essentially a collection of typical 19th-century urban Irish buildings, including the likes of a Doctor’s house, Pub, Drapery, Grocery shop, Hardware shop, a Post Office and a School.
Set in a time of great historic change in Irish society, this village provides a unique and fascinating insight into this particular time period and is fantastic fun for both adults and children.
It is also well worth checking out the Regency Walled Garden, which is a wonderful living reconstruction of the homes and environment that were typical of Ireland well over 100 years ago.
This amazing garden was constructed for the house in the year 1804, and it is well over half an acre. There are so many beautiful plants and flowers to explore, and it is the perfect place for an afternoon historic stroll.
Bunratty Castle and Folk Park are fantastic places for children to explore, enjoy, and learn about history, and one of the highlights is the Viking Playground & Farm Animals. Nestled at the end of Village Street, this enormous playground takes on the shape of a mini fortified castellated tower, and there are wonderful views of the surrounding countryside.
There is no better way to end an exciting day of exploring everything that Bunratty Castle and Folk Park have to offer, than having a warm drink and a bite to eat at Mr. O’Regan’s café.
Here there are lots of delicious eating options, as well as a wonderful gift store, where you can find an enormous range of beautiful glassware from all corners of Ireland. As well as this, there are so many incredibly perfumes, button artworks, and jewellery to treat yourself to.
Bunratty Castle & Folk Park Opening Hours
Bunratty Castle & Folk Park is open daily from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm.
Bunratty Castle & Folk Park Day Admission Tickets
The following tickets can be booked online and include a 10% discount
- Adult: 15.25€
- Child 0 – 3 yrs: free
- Child 4 – 18 yrs: 11.50€
- Senior Ticket: 11.50€
- Student Ticket: 11.50€
- Family Ticket (2 Adult + 2 Children): 45.40€
- Family Ticket (2 Adult + 6 Children): 61.50€
Bunratty Castle and Folk Park are absolutely extraordinary places with so much to offer, regardless of your specific interests. There is so much history to discover, and so many fun and adventurous activities to experience.