Friday, May 29, 2009



Specifically, Bunratty, an easy drive from Shannon.  Yes, it's touristy.  I don't care!  I loved the atmosphere.  Medieval feasts, a working potter, period furnishings not only in the castle but in the village, and the animals created a fun anachronistic (the sites at Bunratty vary wildly in period) park-like destination.  During the height of the tourist season, it probably is quite crowded and might get Disneyland-ish, but while we were there it was near-perfect. 

 Alas, to counterbalance our experience, a lot of the places within the park were closed or unattended.  You could still go inside the unattended buildings.  In the ones that were attended, we were able to sample bread made with period methods, and purchase pottery made on site, among other things.  [Fudge. *ahem*] 

I wish we could have stayed for the medieval feast at the castle.  Ten courses, if I remember correctly, with live period music and entertainment, and irish wolfhounds in attendance.

The keeper for the wolfhounds happened to walk them to the castle while we were on the last leg of our tour of the grounds.  We had to pet the dogs.  Had to.  People a bit more shy of dogs than we are watched rather than participated in the ongoing corruption of their doggerly obedience.  The dogs seemed much more interested in attention than dinner.

A walled garden, cottages designed to illustrate how people of different walks of life lived, mills (that I believe still grind flour!) sheep, a donkey, deer, a castle, hens, a manor house, pubs, a doctor's house, printer ... there's much to do and see at Bunratty, all kid appropriate without being insufferably downsized or safety-fascist so the adults can play and not feel stifled.

  Afterward, have a meal at Durty Nelly's, established 1620.  Yum.  It's just outside the park, so no need to pay an entrance fee to eat.  If you're with law enforcement, bring a spare patch from your jurisdiction.  They have them stapled to the beams.

I brought home a pin and a small pottery tea bag cup, for disposing used teabags in.  (Used teabags are useful for fertilizer, sunburns, and other oddball stuff--google sometime!)  It's also beautifully decorative, and if I was serving tea to friends I'd happily set it on the table so they could make use of it after their teabags were done steeping.  One of those things that you didn't know might be useful until you have it.

Bunratty is definitely high on my recommended list.  You'll have to decide for yourself whether it's better to visit during the height (more energy, more things to see and do, much more crowded) or during the off season (no crowds, quieter, potential to talk with guides and folk who work there about Bunratty and period life in general, fewer exhibits in full swing).  I haven't decided.  I guess I'll just have to try both.

1 comment:

The Moody Minstrel said...

(Makes entry in list, thinks about it, moves it closer to the top...)