Skip to Content

Ireland Family Travel: Visiting Bunratty Castle & Folk Park

If your family loves time travel, and exploring distant lands and times, read on. One of my family’s favorite places to do so is at Bunratty Castle & Folk Park, on the west side of Ireland. Located near Shannon Airport, Bunratty Castle & Folk Park is a glimpse into many distant ages (and many different ways of living).

Now, there are two parts to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. As you can probably tell from the name, they include the castle and the folk park. And both are very different experiences – but all are wonderful for families to explore, and learn about Ireland’s history. Here’s the best of each:

Bunratty Folk Park

If you're traveling to Ireland on your next family vacation, you won't want to miss Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. These attractions "bring visitors into the magic and mystery of the Prehistoric, Celtic, Viking, Anglo-Norman and native Irish communities starting 5000 years ago and continuing to the present day.”

Bunratty Folk Park is a glimpse into 19th century Ireland. Located on 26 acres, the folk park shows different aspects of life in Ireland, from a fisherman’s cottage to an upper-class mansion. There’s also a “town” where you can see a post office, a school (with really hard wooden benches), shops where you can really purchase items, and a working pub. There are also animals – enormous Irish wolfhounds, goats and horses, chickens, etc. My daughter’s favorite parts were the gypsy cart and the extremely tiny horses. My favorite part was a cottage where local women (in costume) were making fresh apple pies. Alas, we didn’t stay around for the finished product – too much to see!

Plan on plenty of walking – and if you have a stroller or wheelchair, there are both paved and cobblestone pathways – and hills. The pathways are wide, and paved, for stroller or handicap accessibility. Buildings (especially doorways) are not accessible.

Details: Bunratty Castle & Folk Park is run by Shannon Heritage, who “endeavours to preserve our culture and heritage, traditions and customs, castles and places of history for future generations to enjoy. Our attractions bring visitors into the magic and mystery of the Prehistoric, Celtic, Viking, Anglo-Norman and native Irish communities starting 5000 years ago and continuing to the present day.”
Open daily except for 3 days around Christmas.
For more information, please see:
http://www.shannonheritage.com/BunrattyCastleAndFolkPark/

Bunratty Castle

Bunratty Castle

Located within Bunratty Folk Park, Bunratty Castle is a princess or knight’s dream come true. Soaring stone walls, narrow windows, stained glass, winding staircases, and an incredible view from atop the ramparts all lend to the medieval charm. The castle is located on the site of an old Viking camp (970!). There was a first castle, as there always is. It was destroyed, and repaired, and destroyed, and rebuilt. Such is the history of important sites. This site has been open to the public since the 1960s.

Visitors can tour Bunratty Castle as part of the Folk Park experience (same entrance fee – all in one location). You can also come back later, for the Bunratty Castle Medieval Banquet. While it is (of course) a tourist attraction, it is one that will leave an indelible mark on your family. You’ll hear beautiful music from the Bunratty Castle Entertainers, and have a bite of friendship (bread dipped in salt) and a glass of mead (or juice) as a prelude. Then troop downstairs to the banquet hall, where you’ll be entertained by medieval music, much fun, and the joy of learning to eat with only a knife. I know, such an impact on young minds – our daughter keeps telling everyone that asks about Ireland how in the old days they ate with a knife. ONLY a knife, she exclaims each time. Note that the castle is not handicap accessible, and it would be difficult to bring a stroller inside.

These glimpses into history mark you indelibly. You spend your time there imagining looking over the ramparts of a medieval castle, watching for invaders; sitting in a classroom on a hard wooden bench; riding around Ireland in a gypsy caravan; being a wealthy mill owner vs. a poor fisherman. These lived moments will not only be a highlight of your journey to Ireland, but inspire your family to learn more about Ireland’s history – and come back, again and again.

Details: Bunratty Castle & Folk Park is run by Shannon Heritage, who “endeavours to preserve our culture and heritage, traditions and customs, castles and places of history for future generations to enjoy. Our attractions bring visitors into the magic and mystery of the Prehistoric, Celtic, Viking, Anglo-Norman and native Irish communities starting 5000 years ago and continuing to the present day.”

Jessie Voigts is a mom who loves sharing the world with her daughter. She has a PhD in International Education, and is constantly looking for ways to increase intercultural understanding, especially with kids (it’s never too young to start!). She has lived and worked in Japan and London, and traveled around the world. Jessie is the publisher of Wandering Educators, a travel library for people curious about the world. She founded the Family Travel Bloggers Association, and the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program. She’s published six books about travel and intercultural learning, with more on the way. You can usually find her family by water – anywhere in the world.

 

Restaurants in Quebec City
Previous
Family-Friendly Restaurants In Quebec City
niagara falls with kids
Next
Niagara Falls, NY With Kids