Ireland's Hidden Gems by Susan Byron
Experience Irish culture and history at Bunratty Castle, Clare
Posted on Wednesday, September 08, 2010 at 04:00 AM
- Green trails and massive variety characterize Ireland's walking vacations
- Lough Bawn House a hidden gem beautifully catered in mystical Westmeath
- King John's Castle, Limerick City, revamped and ready for action
- Irish jewelry designer creates a contemporary Ring of Kerry
- Barron's Bakery, a family-run, Waterford staple baking the best bread in Ireland for over 125 years
If you have only one day in which to ‘to do’ Ireland I would highly recommend visiting Bunratty Castle and Folk Park as it will give you a very good feel for the culture and history of Ireland. It very close to Shannon airport, about 10 miles, so an ideal place to visit prior to departure as we all invariably leave way to much time for dropping off the hire car, why spend hours hanging about the airport when you could be here instead?
Bunratty Castle itself, is a very fine and impressive furnished 15th century medieval fortress with great views out over the estuary and surrounding lands it once protected. Visitors can enjoy a medieval style banquet each night during the summer or simply wander around the keep and ramparts during the day as part of your admission to the Folk Park complex, which will keep you occupied all day as you visit the various cottages and homesteads that were once occupied by farmers, fishermen and shepherds.
These buildings are the ‘real’ deal not mock-ups, in fact one of the cottages was actually transported stone by stone from its original position nearby, in the middle of Runway 1. No 1! Most though, have been faithfully rebuilt in the style and of the day using vernacular materials such as local Liscannor stone, and river reeds for thatching.
You can see fruit scones being baked, sit in on a school lesson or enjoy the ‘craic’ in the pub. It was said ‘that a yard of a counter was as good as a farm of land’ in the old days. Most grocery shops included a bar, some still do. Most small towns in Ireland had a disproportionate amount of pubs to the population, but again that’s another story.
There is even a ‘big house’ with a walled garden, planted with original Irish species of flowers, fruit and vegatables, depicting the landed gentry and subsequent tenant’s lifestyle. Keep a good eye out for poachers and the illicit ‘poitin’ still down by the lake. And consider yourself blessed altogether if you land up at one of their special themed events like the Harvest Festival at the end of September.
For 10 more Things to Do and See in the area including the Hunt Museum, a guided walk of Angelas Ashes landmarks and Limerick City itself? click here