What Is Bunratty, Ireland Famous For? Great Things To See And Do In 2024

Bunratty is a village of 349 people (2016) in County Clare within the Munster Province in Southwestern Ireland- so what could this tiny village called Bunratty, Ireland be famous for?

It is believed that the area around Bunratty originated as a Viking settlement in the late 10th century. Bunratty’s most spectacular landmark is Bunratty Castle & Folk Park, a gorgeous castle built in the 15th century and a reconstruction of life in an Irish village during the 19th century.

Across the street, you’ll find Durty Nelly’s The Original Irish Pub. It’s the other special attraction in the village of Bunratty and first opened its doors back in 1620! This makes it one of Ireland’s oldest pubs.

In this post, we’ll find what Bunratty, Ireland is famous for, and why you shouldn’t skip this village on your Ireland trip!

What is Bunratty, Ireland Famous For?

Book Flights To Bunratty Here!

Bunratty Castle

If you translate Bunratty Castle into Irish, it’s Caisleán Bhun Raithe, meaning “castle at the mouth of the Ratty”. The latter is the river that flows right next to the castle.

A Brief History of Bunratty Castle

So, how old is Bunratty Castle exactly? Well, the earliest origins of the Bunratty Castle site go back to 970 AD, when it was a Viking trading camp.

In 1250, the Norman Robert De Muscegros built the first defensive fortress here. It was a large mound made of soil and had a wooden tower at the top.
Later, it was given to Thomas De Clare (c. 1245-1287), the Lord of Thomond, who constructed a castle out of stone to replace the other one.

Unfortunately, the castle and the town of Bunratty were destroyed in 1318, after Richard De Clare (Thomas’s son) was killed in a battle between the Irish and the Normans.

35 years later, the castle was rebuilt by Sir Thomas Rokeby from Yorkshire, England. The Irish then attacked it, and it stayed in their hands afterwards.

The present-day Bunratty Castle was built by the MacNamara Family in 1425.

The largest clan of North Munster (the O’Briens) then took it over in 1475. As time went on, the owners of Bunratty Castle changed quite a lot. The last owners, the Studdart family, left and abandoned the castle in 1804.

In the late 19th century, the roof of the Great Hall collapsed, and Bunratty Castle was pretty much in ruins in the mid 20th century. But Viscount Lord Gort, a medievalist, bought and restored it in 1953.
He also donated furniture, artworks, and everyday items of the MacNamara and O’Brien era, which made an authentic restoration of the inside possible. Bunratty Castle was opened to the public in 1962.

A Tour of Bunratty Castle

Bunratty Castle has three floors and four lookout towers with six stories. After entering the castle through a drawbridge, you’ll find yourself inside the Main Guard (living room of the common soldiers and the Earl’s retainers).
Then there’s the Great Hall (the original banquet hall). It has French, Belgian, and Flemish tapestries, which I think makes it the most impressive room of the castle.

Bunratty Castle also has a basement, kitchen, the Earl’s bedroom, dungeon, the Earl’s family apartments, guest apartments, a private chapel, and Priest’s Room.

The entire castle has mostly 15th and 16th century furniture, which is the finest collection of medieval furniture in all of Ireland.

When we visited Bunratty Castle in August 2022, some of the helpful staff members wore traditional 15th and 16th century clothing, which made the visit even more fun!
Also be sure to walk up the stairs all the way to the top, and you’ll be rewarded with an amazing view of the Ratty River and the Clare countryside!

Upcoming Events at Bunratty Castle

Don’t have plans yet for the upcoming Halloween weekend (October 28-30, 2023)?
If you’re in the area, check out the Monsters, Misfits, and Mayhem events for the whole family at Bunratty Castle & Folk Park! You can enter the Torture Chamber inside the castle’s dungeon (murderhole), join the wake of Mickey MacNamara’s corpse, or visit the Witches Kitchen!

There will be Traditional Halloween games, Spooky Storytelling, and some creepy characters haunting the castle grounds as well! Prices are €18 or adults, €12.50 for children older than 3 years, or you can book a family ticket (2 adults and 2 kids) for €49.95.

What is Bunratty, Ireland Famous For?

Bunratty Castle & Folk Park also hosts tons of fun Christmas events this year! The most exciting one is the meet and greet with Santa in his grotto on the Village Street from December 1 to 23, 2023! You’ll also run into Mrs. Claus and lots of Christmas characters on the streets. It’s €35 per child, and an adult needs to be with them at all times (for an extra €18).

If that’s not enough, your kid(s) will surely be thrilled to have Breakfast with Santa! You can sing along with Santa, Mrs. Claus, Jack Frost, and Christmas elves while eating yummy pancakes! It happens on certain days between December 2 and December 23, and prices are €37 per adult and per child. You can also get a keepsake photo with Santa (at an additional €12.50)!

The Medieval Banquet at Bunratty Castle

For a truly unique experience, attend the Medieval Banquet Dinner in the Main Guard of Bunratty Castle! Join the Earl of Thomond and his ladies and butlers for a four-course feast. It includes honey mead, parsnip soup with Irish soda bread, spare ribs, pan fried chicken with vegetables, and more! A vegetarian or vegan option is available, too.

While you’re stuffing your face, the world famous Bunratty Castle Singers will entertain you with medieval Irish music, song, and dance!

The Medieval Banquet happens daily at 5:30 pm and 8:30 pm. The cost is €66.00 per adult and €37.50 per child (4-10 years). Please note that children under 4 years are not allowed to join and reservations are necessary.

Admission Fees to Bunratty Castle & Folk Park

The admission fees to Bunratty Castle are as follows:

Day TicketPrice
Child (4-18 years)€11.50
Senior or student€11.50
Bunratty Visit Family (2 adults and 2 kids)€40.85
Bunratty Family (2 adults and 6 kids)€61.50

Children 3 years and under are free of charge.
There’s a car park next to the entrance to the Bunratty Castle & Folk Park area and parking is free.

With thousands of visitors every year, Bunratty Castle is one of Ireland’s most popular attractions- it is recommended to buy your tickets before you go!

💫 Purchase Bunratty Castle And Folk Park Tickets HERE! 💫

Hours & Accessibility at Bunratty Castle

Bunratty Castle & Folk Park is open daily from 9 am to 5:30 pm (April to September) and 9:30 am to 5 pm (October to March). The last entry to the castle is at 4 pm.

Unfortunately, Bunratty Castle itself is not wheelchair accessible, though access is possible to inside the castle basement, which has storyboards on the wall that tell the history of Bunratty Castle.

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Bunratty Folk Park

Now that you’re done touring Bunratty Castle, turn right to explore the Bunratty Folk Park, which covers 26 acres and has more than 30 buildings to look at! You can find a map of this area here.

The 19th Century Village Street

Without a doubt, this was the busiest part of an Irish village in the 19th century! The vibrant coloured shops and buildings -sat alongside each other- and the streets represent a typical village layout.

There’s a post office, school, Doctor’s house, grocery store, J.J. Corry’s Pub, The Public House (hotel/bar), hardware store, and more on the Village Street! There’s a good chance you’ll meet some village characters, like the Bean an Ti (woman of the house) baking bread and pastries, teacher, policeman, and a local musician playing a fiddle in the pub!

In the early 19th century, most people were self-sufficient at home. They only bought luxuries, like sugar, salt, and tea at the village shops and local markets. But soon, more and more unique food items were available at the shops, which first competed with and later replaced home production.

If you keep on walking, you’ll see more fascinating buildings, e.g. the Hazelbrook House, Ardcroney Church, a corn mill and water mill, and the Traveler Wagons. They were horse drawn wagons and the main mode of transportation back then.

What is Bunratty, Ireland Famous For?

The Hazelbrook House is where the Hughes Brothers lived, who started a dairy industry and later produced HB Ice Cream. Still today, it’s one of Ireland’s most popular ice cream brands! Visitors are allowed to go inside this house as well.

Next to the Traveler Wagons is the Viking Playground, that has a Viking Playship, a smaller version of Bunratty Castle, a 25-meter (82 ft) zipline, rope walks, slides, and more!

The Fairy Trail

Wandering around The Fairy Trail at the upper end of Bunratty Folk Park is a perfect adventure for kids and adults alike! It has enchanting woods, a walled garden, and picturesque woodland trails. Fairies have been a part of Irish folklore for a long time and are supposed to bring good luck!

Feel free to download and print the Fairy Trail Booklet before your visit, that includes lots of fun games and activities to solve! Besides, you can try on fairy wings, and may spot some little fairy houses!

Lastly, be sure to visit the Fairy University or Fairy library and read from the magical Book of Spells.

Pa’s Pet Farm & Farm Animals

If you’d like to meet and learn about more friendly locals from Ireland, keep an eye out for the animals living in their natural environment at Bunratty Folk Park!
From sheep, cows, Irish Red Deer, pigs, horses, Connemara Ponies, to Irish Wolfhounds, there’s something for everyone!

Moreover, a variety of cute baby animals are waiting for you at Pa’s Pet Farm, such as lambs, calves, rabbits, ducks, goats, chickens and many more!
Expert farmers are on site to make sure everyone’s got a great time and are happy to answer questions about the animals.

Bunratty House & The Regency Walled Gardens

Bunratty House, a late Georgian house, is at the Northeastern end of the Bunratty Folk Park and was finished in 1804.
The Studdart family, the last owners of Bunratty Castle, moved here in the same year, as Bunratty House was more comfortable and modern. It’s open to the public as well.

Next door, you’ll find the Talbot Collection, a storage place for 19th century agricultural machinery and implements. Lastly, there’s the Regency Walled Garden (also completed in 1804), that is part of the original much larger gardens that existed back then.

Bunratty House. Photo by Ian Capper on Wikimedia Commons.

Eating & Shopping at Bunratty Castle & Folk Park

If you need a break from touring Bunratty Castle & Folk Park, sit down for some food and drinks at one of the eating establishments! For example, MacNamara’s Pub (Mac’s) is famous for its tasty soups and sandwiches and creamy Irish Coffee and Guinness! It’s open all year.

Then there’s The Tea Room with its tea selection, homemade scones, soda bread, and yummy apple pie! It’s open from April to September. 
The Corn Barn is open for group lunches only (with warm meals, soups, sandwiches, and desserts), and pre-bookings are mandatory.

When you enter the admissions building at the entrance, you’ll notice the Café Bunratty with its coffee drinks, soup, salads, sandwiches, and pastries right away. It’s also open year-round, and both paid visitors and walk-in customers are welcome.

Are you looking for some cool gifts before leaving Bunratty Castle & Folk Park? Then browse around the Bunratty Craft and Design Store for a bit! This contemporary store offers quality Irish products from brands like Foxford, Avoca, Newbridge Silver & Waterford Crystal, but also supports small businesses. 

With glassware from all over Ireland, a great perfume selection, pewter, jewelry, and the famous knitwear from the nearby Aran Islands, you’ll strike a bonanza for sure!

You can bring your dog on a leash to Bunratty Folk Park, but they are not allowed in the castle or food and beverage areas (except service dogs).

Durty Nelly’s: The Original Irish Pub

A local of Bunratty recommended having dinner at Durty Nelly’s and I’m glad we did! What makes this place special, apart from the food, is its outside and inside design. For example, we loved the bright yellow wall colour, the old school phone booth and bicycle standing right in front of the restaurant!

According to legend, Durty Nelly did exist for real, and she was a kind lady who helped many travelers that came through Bunratty on their journey. She invented Poteen, a strong and “magical” brew, which nowadays is illegal in Ireland! 

They only use local and homemade ingredients. Durty Nelly’s is open seven days a week and often hosts live music! Besides, you can book special occasion dinners (e.g. weddings or Christmas parties) in The Loft upstairs.

Either way, the warm and inviting atmosphere of this place makes people feel welcome still to this day, whether you’re a local or visitor to Bunratty Village!

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Where To Stay In Bunratty Village?

💫 Parkhouse B&B 💫

Only a 10-minute walk from Bunratty Castle, this quaint B&B is perfect for those wanting a relaxing break away at a low cost.

💫 Bunratty Castle Mews B&B 💫

Just 5 minutes from Bunratty village, Durty Nelly’s and Bunratty Castle, the themed rooms of this B&B are ideal for a cheap getaway.

💫 Bunratty Manor Hotel 💫

Highly recommended by couples, this hotel is a little bit of luxury in Bunratty with beautiful rooms, and friendly staff.

How To Get To Bunratty Village

Bunratty Village is only a 20-minute drive from Limerick (via the N18 motorway) and 1 hour 15 minutes from Galway (via the M18/N18 motorway). From Dublin, it’s about 2.5 hours via the M7 motorway.
It’s only a short drive from other tourist attractions in the area, such as the epic Cliffs of Moher and the famous Wild Atlantic Way, which meanders along Ireland’s west coast.

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The nearest airport is Shannon Airport (15 minutes), which offers flights to many European and some overseas destinations. 
Bus Éireann and the Expressway bus are going from Galway, Limerick, Shannon Airport, and the Cliffs of Moher to Bunratty as well.

Conclusion: What Is Bunratty, Ireland Famous For?

A visit to Bunratty Castle is a great way to step back in time for the whole family! We really liked learning how the castle owners and their families lived at Bunratty Castle during the 15th and 16th century. 
Of course, Bunratty Folk Park is just as exciting with its authentic restored 19th century village streets and shops, Fairy Trail, and who could forget the cute fuzzy animals that live here? 

For dinner, it’s very convenient to have a bite at Durty Nelly’s, and they’ll be happy to spoil your tummy with their special food items!

So I highly recommend to visit Bunratty Village at least once in a lifetime!

What is Bunratty, Ireland Famous For?

Joey also has posts on Dublin, Athlone, and Killarney for you to browse!

At time of writing, there are currently no Coronavirus measures limiting tourists to enter Ireland. This is in accordance with the information provided on gov.uk.

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