Your Complete Guide to Visiting Bunratty Castle & Folk Park

 

Bunratty Castle, Co. Clare. Source: www.greenirelandinternational.com

You could fill a whole holiday just with the activities available at Adare Manor, from the thrill of clay pigeon shooting, archery and falconry to the total relaxation of the spa. There are long walks to take through the woodlands, rousing rounds of golf on our championship course, and unforgettable evenings spent in the company of friends. It can be tempting to while away the hours without ever leaving the estate, but Adare Manor makes a fantastic base for adventures a little farther afield. We are within an easy drive of some wonderful spots that everyone who visits Ireland should see at least once. For example, just a short 20 minute drive from Adare Manor is one of Ireland’s most beloved visitor attractions, Bunratty Castle and Folk Park.

Consider saving a little time in your itinerary to pay a visit to this fascinating living museum, a place which has been frozen in time. The showstopper of the site is the grand castle on the hill, originally built in 1425 and authentically restored in the 1950s by Lord and Lady Gort, who filled it with medieval treasures which can still be enjoyed in all their glory today. Clustered around the castle, in what would once have been its grounds, is the 19th Century Folk Park, which has preserved the history of Ireland as it was over 100 years ago, complete with fully furnished homes, working shops, and a lively petting farm. All in all, this is a spectacular spot for a daytrip from Adare Manor.

We love sharing Ireland’s many wonders and attractions with our guests, so to to help you plan your visit to Bunratty, we have written this comprehensive visitors guide. It contains all the information you need in one place, so that you don’t waste a minute of precious holiday time combing the internet or guidebooks before you set off on your trip.

 

Folk Park at Bunratty Castle. Source: www.packthepooch.com

 

Enjoying Bunratty Castle and Folk Park

The castle itself is a magnificently restored 15th century tower house, one of the finest and most complete examples in the country. It has been furnished with authentic 15th and 16th century art, tapestries, and furniture. As you explore the exhibits over 4 floors, you can feel a what it must have been like to make your home behind these thick stone walls in the days of medieval Ireland.

Immediately surrounding the castle is the Folk Park, where the time travel continues. This time, you are transported to a typical 19th century rural Irish village. Over 26 acres and over 30 buildings, you can share in the experiences and daily routines of the villagers, portrayed by costumed interpreters (with a generous helping of wit, charm, and good-hearted fun). There is a fully recreated village street, featuring a school, doctor’s house, pub, printmakers, grocery, bookmakers, pottery and more. You will also be able to visit authentic, historically furnished homes of the era, from humble thatched cottages to the Bunratty House: the “big house” of the town, where the gentry lived. The magical Regency Walled Garden, located beside the Big House, is a lovely spot to wander.

 

Restaurants and dining at Bunratty Castle

If you want to eat at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park during the day, there are two options on site:

  • The castle Tea Room serves tea, coffee, cakes, sandwiches and soups.
  • MacNamara’s Pub offers a varied lunch and dinner menu in a 19th century setting.

Ice cream and sweets can be bought from shopkeepers in the historical village street. You are also welcome to bring a packed lunch and enjoy a picnic on the grounds.

 

In the evenings, Bunratty Castle and Folk Park hosts dinner entertainments. As space is limited, reservations are essential and can be made on the Shannon Heritage website.

  • The Bunratty Medieval Banquets take place in the castle banquet room. These events run twice nightly year round at 5:30pm and 8:45 pm. The menu includes a welcoming cup of mead, hearty food and wine. During dinner, costumed actors provide a fun atmosphere, and Irish singers accompanied by harp and fiddle serenade the diners.
  • Irish Nights are held in The Corn Bar nightly from April to October at 7pm. The menu features traditional Irish food with locally sourced ingredients. Dinner is accompanied by traditional Irish music, and there is a 40 minute after dinner show featuring music, storytelling and Irish dancing.

 

Shopping for souvenirs and gifts at Bunratty Castle

There is an official Bunratty Castle gift shop on site, and many of the historical village shops are operational, which means that you can purchase traditional handicrafts, musical instruments and other treasures throughout the park.

 

What is the best time of year to visit Bunratty Castle?

Bunratty Castle and Folk park is open year round, only closing on December 24th, 25th, and 26th. This beautiful place is worth a trip any time of year, but some parts of the

attractions are seasonal. If you are looking for the full experience, the high season, while it’s busier, is probably the best time to visit. The costumed characters who populate the 19th century village are usually on site from April through September, although from late August through October, their appearances may be staggered and in the low season not all

exhibits will be staffed. If you want to be sure to meet the reenactors, you may want to give the castle a call ahead of your visit to see whether they are scheduled for the day of your planned visit. From January to March, Bunratty House is closed.

If thinking about visiting this April, you may consider our Spring into Adare experience: For two deeply relaxing nights, you will call one of our inviting and beautifully appointed guest rooms home. Each morning, indulge yourself with an elegant breakfast in the inspiring surroundings of The Gallery. On one evening, treat yourself to a tempting dinner for two in The Carriage House Restaurant, where the menu is full of exquisitely prepared dishes to please all palates.  To find out more on how to book this experience, visit our website.

 

What is the best time of day to visit Bunratty Castle?

Bunratty Castle is a very popular attractions, which means that it can get very busy at peak times. If you prefer a quieter atmosphere, visitors who have been there before recommend trying to visit early in the day, before the majority of group tours arrive. Right at opening or before 11am is best. Weekdays are generally less crowded than weekends.

 

How long should you plan for your visit?

To give you a chance to see and do everything at the castle and park, a visit of at least an hour and a half is recommended, but about two and a half hours should allow you to take everything in at a relaxed pace. Some reviewer recommend making a whole day of it to really savour the experience, especially if you are visiting with children or planning to attend one of the evening dinner entertainments.

What to wear and bring to Bunratty Castle

Anywhere you go in Ireland, the weather can be unpredictable, so dressing in layers and bringing a waterproof jacket are always a good idea. Many of the attractions are indoors, but you’ll want to stay dry while you explore the site and go from building to building on a rainy day. A camera is a must, and both photographs and video recording are allowed throughout the site.

 

Bunratty Folk Park. Source: www.packthepooch.com

 

Visiting Bunratty Castle and Folk Park with little ones

Bunratty Castle is an ideal destination for children: there is so much to see and do. Small children will love that there are friendly farm animals such as lambs, miniature horses and chickens to admire, big gentle Irish Wolfhounds to pet, and the enchanting Fairy Village with miniature versions of the castle and cottages to discover. For older children, there’s a thrilling viking-themed playground with a pirate ship and zip line, interactive costumed characters, and all the excitement of travelling back in time.

Strollers are welcome in the Folk Park but will not be usable in the castle. Children should be carried or have their hands help by an adult while climbing the tower stairs. Baby changing facilities are available.

If you attend the Medieval Banquet with children, it is worth noting that there is no separate children’s menu, but child-sized portions are provided.

 

Is Bunratty Castle Wheelchair Accessible?

Because of the age of the building, only the basement of Bunratty Castle is accessible to wheelchair users. The other 4 floors of the castle are accessed by a narrow spiral staircase, which is somewhat steep and may represent a challenge to those with limited mobility. The Folk Park is wheelchair accessible with smooth hard-surfaced paths, but there are some steeper parts where assistance may be required, and some of the buildings in the village may need to be viewed from the door. There are wheelchair accessible toilet facilities. A limited number of wheelchairs are available for guest use, subject to availability. There is a refundable €25 deposit required.

For those considering attending the Medieval Banquet, you should be aware that the banqueting room is accessed by the main castle entrance and is not wheelchair accessible. The main entrance at the top of about 20 wooden cased steps, and there are a further few steps up into the banquet room itself. If you or a member of your party uses a wheelchair and would like to attend a similar banquet, the nearby Knappogue Castle Banquet offers a very similar experience and is fully accessible. You also have the option of attending the Irish Night in the Corn Barn, located in the Folk Park.

 

Getting There

It’s a quick and easy drive from Adare Manor to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park. You can see the full directions from Google Maps here. If you would like to arrange private transportation from Adare Manor to the park, our concierge will gladly help you make the arrangements.

 

Opening hours for Bunratty Castle and Folk Park

The site is open from 9:00am to 5:30pm daily, except for the 24th, 25th, and 26th of December.

The castle itself closes at 4pm to prepare for their nightly medieval banquets, so arriving an hour or so ahead of that will give you time to see and experience everything without a rush.

 

Booking tickets online

Bunratty Castle tickets include admission to both the castle and the Folk Park. Tickets can be purchased at the gate, but reserving them online at the Shannon Heritage website offers a 10% savings. Online tickets must be bought at least 24 hours in advance of your visit. As a guest of Adare Manor, our concierge team is always delighted to help you plan your trip and book your tickets.

  • Adult: €15.25
  • Senior: €10.50
  • Child: (4 to 18 years) €10.50
  • Child: (under 3 years) Free
  • Family ticket: €61.50 (2 adults and up to 6 children)

 

A day out at Bunratty Castle is a wonderful way to get a glimpse at the Ireland of long ago and come home to Adare Manor with a heart full of memories that will last forever. Back at the Manor House, you can enjoy a quiet nightcap in The Tack Room as you recount the day’s events before retiring to your sumptuously comfortable room for a restful night of sleep. When you wake in the morning, we will be ready and waiting to help you plan your next adventure.

 

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