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Bunratty Castle

Stories of Ireland

Story by Korinn Braden
Bunratty Castle is located on a Viking camp, dating to 970, in what is now Limerick. After the Norman Invasion, the land belonged to Robert De Muscegros who built a defensive fortress. After 1250 the land was granted to Thomas De Clare, who built the first stone castle on the site. It is estimated the town had 1,000 residents at that time. The present building was built between 1450-67.b

In 1318 a De Clare heir was killed in battle. The De Clares were defeated by the Normans, who destroyed the castle and town. The castle was then restored for the King of England. Irish chieftains, in 1332, attacked and demolished the fortress. It was later rebuilt by an English lord. And again, the Irish attacked. This time they would hold on to the castle and the lands. In the 17th century a visiting Archbishop was impressed by its beauty, including 3,000 deer and ponds. The village also included an incredible, still serving pub, called Durty Nelly's But that is another story. It's no wonder Bunratty Castle had something like fifteen privies!

By Cromwellian times, the castle and land had been surrendered. The lands were granted to the Studdart family who left the castle in 1804. In 1954 Viscount Lord Gort purchased the castle and began restoration. Items introduced to the castle were Lord Gort's impressive collection of Medieval funrniture. Opening in 1960, it is the most authentically restored and furnished castle in Ireland. The Bunratty House and its folk village are well worth the time as well. Don't forget to stop into Durty Nelly's for a pint...or two...