Bunratty is a village whose name in Irish is Bun Raite which means at the
mouth of the River Raite. The village is dominated by a castle which was
once the seat of the O'Briens, Earls of Thormand. There has been
a castle on this site since 1251 but the present castle dates from the
15th century, when it was built by Sioda MacConmara. It became
the stronghold of the O'Briens, once kings later earls, of Thomond.
The castle stands on what was once an island surrounded
by marshes, but it is now all drained and turned into rich farmland.
The castle was restored in 1954 and furnished by its owner Viscount
Gort, who then gave it to the nation. It now looks inside much as
it did under the "Great Earl" who died in 1624. It has an impressive
recessed doorway at its entrance and is filled with medieval furniture, art,
utensils and weapons.
In 1960 the famous medieval banquets began to be served. Here
diners are entertained as they eat to this day, with singers, harpists, and
Next to the castle is the Folk Park. In the 1960's a farm house
rescued from land where Shannon Airport was being built, and was
rebuilt here. Over the years many buildings have been added,
and now the site covers 22 acres and has 25 houses , a village
street, pub, and workshops that show how things were
done in the past such as the blacksmiths, printers shop and a drapers.
The photograph shows a traditional thatched cottage.