Bunratty Castle (Gaelic: Caisleán Bhun Raithe, meaning "Castle at the Mouth of the Ratty") is a large tower house which lies in the centre of Bunratty village (Irish: Bun Ráite), close to Shannon Airport. The name Bunratty, Bun Raite (or possibly, Bun na Raite) in Irish, means the 'bottom' or end of the 'Ratty' river.

This river, alongside the castle, flows into the nearby Shannon estuary. From the top of the castle, one can look over to the estuary and the airport. The castle and the adjoining folk park are run by Shannon Heritage.

Bunratty Castle is the most complete and authentic medieval fortress in Ireland. It was built in 1425 and was restored in 1954 to its former medieval splendor and now contains mainly 15th and 16th-century furnishings, tapestries, and works of art that capture the mood of those times. Today, the castle stands peacefully on delightful grounds. The houses and cottages of the folk park spread out at the foot of its massive walls, much in the way that the cottages and crofts of old would have clustered around its base. You can wander through the castle and marvel at the finest collection of medieval furniture in Ireland which brings to life a vital part of our Medieval past. The Castle closes each day at 4 pm (16:00) in order to prepare for the nightly Medieval Banquet

Bunratty Folk Park

Within the grounds of Bunratty Castle is Bunratty Folk Park where 19th-century life is vividly recreated. Set on 26 acres, the impressive park features over 30 buildings in a 'living' village and rural setting. Meet and chat with the Bean an Tigh  (Woman of the House) and various street characters including the Policeman and Schoolteacher who give the site its sparkle during the summer months. Enjoy the tastes, scents, sights, and sounds of this enchanting place as you stroll from house to house or around the charming village complete with school, post office, doctor's house, hardware shop, printers, and of course the pub! It's a wonderful experience for adults and children alike with something for everyone to enjoy!

It gives a glimpse into Irish life in the 19th century and features reconstructions of historical cottages and buildings, recreating the general feel of the 19th century with a period-style village main street. Old tools, furniture, and artifacts are displayed and the village is kept alive by some inhabited shops, an old home bakery, and peat fires in some of the cottages. The Folk Park excels at showing life in all classes from around Ireland throughout recent history. In the village, you can see the school, post office, shops, and enjoy drinking at a working pub. Animals (and Irish gypsy carts!) are a big attraction for the younger generation, including two very large Irish wolfhounds.

This living museum is a resource to learn about Irish history. From chickens wandering around to local women in costume, making apple pies, it's a glimpse into Irish life in the 19th century. The houses are furnished with period furniture - note the very small beds, the prized dishes, and how smoky the houses were from the peat fires. There is still a local thatcher that works on the thatch roofs. From the blacksmith's forge to fishermen's cottages, from single-story houses to double story houses of the more wealthy folks, from the Golden Vale Farmhouse (from Limerick) - a house of a prosperous family - to the classical Georgian Bunratty House, you can learn of the various ways that the social classes lived and worked. You can visit the Bunratty website here.

Bunratty Walled Garden

Another very interesting feature is the formal Bunratty Walled Garden, modeled on the original Regency period garden which supplied fruit, vegetables, and flowers to Bunratty House built in 1804 and now refurbished in typical Victorian style.

The Bunratty Collection

The Bunratty Collection features over 450 items of medieval furniture and artifacts housed in the Castle. Superb images of each item have been added to create an interesting and accurate website to record the Bunratty Castle contents. You can visit and enjoy the site at www.bunrattycollection.com.

At night time the castle is the impressive setting for medieval banquets which are held all year round.

Key events in Bunratty's history include:

The first dwellers to occupy the site, in 970 were part of a Viking trading camp.

In 1270, Robert De Muscegros built the first defensive fortress, known as a motte and bailey castle.

These lands were later given to Spencer Maine and Tom Hughes granted to Thomas de Clare, who built the first stone structure on the site. At this time Bunratty town had grown to a population of circa 1,000.

In 1318, Thomas's son Richard de Clare, Steward of Forest of Essex (new holder of the castle) was killed in the Battle of Dysert O'Dea during the Irish Bruce Wars 1315-1318. The castle and town were completely destroyed by the victorious O'Briens.

In 1332, soon after being restored for the King of England, the castle was once again razed by the Irish Chieftains of Thomond under the O' Briens and the MacNamara's.

In 1353, after lying in ruins for 21 years, it was rebuilt by Sir Thomas Rokeby, but was almost immediately attacked again by the Irish and was held by Irish hands thereafter.

The present structure was completed by the MacNamara family around 1425 and was briefly occupied by the Siodhachain (Sheehan) clan, but 50 years later was in the hands of the O'Briens, the most powerful clan in Munster.

In 1646, during the Irish Confederate Wars, Barnabas O'Brien, 6th Earl of Thomond, allowed a large English Parliamentary garrison to land in Bunratty. The castle was besieged and taken by the forces of Confederate Ireland under Donagh MacCarthy, Viscount Muskerry.

When Barnaby, or Barnabas O'Brien, 6th Earl of Thomond, left Bunratty for England in 1646 for his own safety, during the Confederate wars, he was the last member of the O'Brien Clan ever to reside in Bunratty Castle. He was actually christened Brian O'Brien, after his famous ancestor Brian Boru, but being a political gymnast, he preferred a more English appellation to appease the King, and to be socially acceptable in the climate of the time.

Bunratty Castle and its lands were granted to the Studdert family. They left the castle in 1804 (allowing it to fall into disrepair), to reside in the more comfortable and modern adjacent Bunratty House built by the family. The reasons for the move are bound up in family arguments over the eldest son marrying his first cousin.

For some time in the mid Nineteenth century, the castle was used as a Barracks by the Royal Irish Constabulary, the colonial police force of the era.

In 1953 the castle was purchased and restored by the 7th Viscount Gort. He re-roofed the castle, which had no longer been lived in as much at the time, and saved it from ruin.


YouTube Video          By  Shannon Heritage           Duration  3:56

"We toured Ireland West Tours and are so glad we did. Jim suggested that we see the Cliffs of Moher from the water, and it was a wonderful experience. Thanks so much for a wonderful day."

Barbara, Georgia, USA


You can read the full review on 


Satisfying the customer 

Over the years we have had several compliments on our drivers from many of our satisfied customers. Click on the link to "Tripadvisor" below to read, in full, the reviews of some of our many happy customers.

"We spent a wonderful day with Jim and are still raving about all we saw and did, as Jim showed us so many fabulous places. Your day will be very well spent if you can schedule Jim to show you this beautiful section of Ireland!"

Kathy J, Florida, USA


You can read the full review on 


Connect with us: