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Listen to piper, fiddler, bodhran, singers, and watch dancers weave story of tradition of Celts. Enjoy home cooked food, excellent wine, and join in with song and dance. The Ceili is twice nightly (subject to demand), at 17:30 and 20:45. If you arrive at Castle in early July you will see costumed knights on grounds, cooking traditional foods, displaying superb swordsmanship, and fighting over local and beautiful wenches.
Bunratty Castle and Folk Park represent a microcosm of Irish history. At one end is Castle, built in 1425 by MacNamara Clan; history of this beautiful building stretches over 500 years of turbulence. However, it was Vikings who first set up a trading post in Bunratty in 950 AD. There have been four castles on site. The Castle was acquired by Anglo-Irish Studdart family in 1720, which lived there until 19th century when they abandoned Castle and built Bunratty House, which stands on a hill on opposite end of Folk Park.
It was in 1954 that Lord Gort purchased Castle and restored it to its present and splendid condition. The huge stones under my feet in Great Hall are not original slabs, but imported from a villa in Italy, but from same era. When Lord Gort purchased Castle there was no roof and rain had pitted floor. He also installed finest collection of medieval furniture in country, thereby preserving a vital part of Celt past and heritage of County Clare. This is a living classic castle, with period furniture, tapestries, and works of art on display. The reasons for tapestries were to cut down on cold, winter draughts. In ancient days all merchants and noblemen filled their homes with wine, furniture, and iron from Spain and France, tapestries and bronze dishes from Netherlands, leather and cloth from Germany and Italy, and spices from Levant. Irish furniture and furnishings have vanished from castles and homes over centuries. Only three or four Irish pieces dating to pre-1600 still exist, two of which are in Bunratty Castle.
Bunratty Castle stands on former island of Tradaree, a spur of beautiful Shannon River, longest in Europe at 200 miles, still flowing in vale in front of Castle. During my afternoon visit to Castle views of Shannon from tower slit windows and battlements are magnificent, with cows grazing peacefully like they did hundreds of years ago in green lushness.
I think how great it would be to live in a castle, until I see one of dank, smelly bedrooms, and think of pests, lack of running water, and general unsanitary conditions. Even Earl of Thomond slept on hay stuffed beds, so hence term, hitting hay!
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By Kriss Hammond, Editor, Jetsetters Magazine – Visit www.jetsettersmagazine.com
Kriss Hammond, Editor, Jetsetters Magazine - Join the Travel Writers Network in the logo at www.jetsettersmagazine.com