The most fun excursion that we got up to here in the West country of Ireland was our trip to Bunratty Castle and folk park. We were there 17 years ago when our son was just 8 years old. So we had some memories of seeing this big castle through his eyes. It has changed over time and has gotten much better. They have added more cottages and houses from the 18th century to the folk park. It is a great place to take children to help them understand some of the history of Ireland.
There is the 1425 castle which was restored in the 1950s and opened to the public in the 1960s. This part of the tour was the same, climbing up many small spiraling staircases that lead off from each of the four walls of the great hall. There are bedrooms to see. Beautiful stained glass windows to look out on to the river. Wonderful 16th century office with a long wood table and colorful ceiling carvings. There are even toilets to show you how people in the castle relieved themselves. That stone seat must have been cold in the winter.
After we toured the castle, we wandered through the folk park which has 30 buildings of farm and fishermen’s cottages from the 18th century. Here is a two room thatched cottage that a County Clare farmer might have lived in. Here is the one bedroom that the farmer and his wife would use. Everyone’s fireplace was also their stove and oven as this photograph of a wealthy farmer’s hearth illustrates. Most of the cottages were heated with peat blocks. I was surprised at how warm they keep the room. They often used the stones that were part of the landscape to build their homes and barns.
It was a fascinating look back in the Irish history of County Clare.
Before we left we decided to eat at Durty Nelly’s, a historical pub that has been serving the local people, or maybe just the tourists, since 1620. The food was very good.
Today we are finishing up our first house sit, and so we are cleaning house, packing and saying good bye to Cassie, Bella, Pipsie and Midnight.