Bunratty Folk Park is a living reconstruction of the homes and environment of Ireland of over a century ago. Rural farmhouses, village shops and streets are recreated and furnished as they would have appeared at that time.
In the Folk Park there is an extensive array of vernacular buildings; indicative of all of the social strata, from the poorest one roomed dwelling to Bunratty House a fine example of a Georgian residence for the gentry (built 1804 home of the Studdarts, the last family to occupy Bunratty Castle).
The Village Street denotes village life in 19th century Ireland. Fairs and markets at the Village gave the farmers and the rural craftsmen an opportunity of selling their products for cash, while shops provided for the rural dwellers needs. In the early 18th century the country people provided for most of their own needs in food, clothing and supplies and bought only luxuries such as sugar, salt, tea ….The village houses and shops have been chosen from many different areas, to form a collection of typical of 19th century urban Irish buildings.
Visit the School, Doctor’s house, Pawnbrokers, Pub, Drapery, Printworks, Grocery, Hardware shop, Pottery and a Post Office.
MacNamara and Sons at the top of the village street is a fully licensed working pub in the style of an old fashioned hotel bar and provides modern catering facilities. Be sure and drop into Mac’s for a pint! The pub is furnished to reflect the lifestyle of the time and the fact that the publican not only sold drink in former times but also traded in groceries and hardware.
Costumed characters recreate the traditions and lifestyle of a bygone age and animate the Folk Park. The characters include the Bean a Ti (woman of the house), R.I.C. policeman, Schoolteacher and so on. Traditional jobs and crafts are also represented, milling, the forge, pottery, printing, baking, farming etc.
Ardcroney Church - an original Church of Ireland building, was moved stone by stone from Ardcroney, Co. Tipperary and rebuilt in the Folk Park and was unveiled here at Bunratty to the public in 1998.
Hazelbrook House (rebuilt in the Folk Park in 2001) was the originally built in 1898 and was the home of the Hughes Brothers who produced HB ice cream - a household name in Ireland. Hazelbrook House, built in 1898, was the home of the Hughes Brothers who started a dairy industry in the 1800’s and later produced HB ice cream, which became a household name in ice cream in Ireland and remains to this day.
Hazelbrook House offers the visitor the unique opportunity to learn about the evolution of Ice cream making from the domestic dairy to the modern day production plant. The House features the history of the industrious Hughes Brothers family who pioneered the HB brand
Vertical Mill –a classic example of a rural undershot watermill and the Horizontal Mill – a working corn mill based on findings of an excavation in Mashangla Co. Cork. This type of mill is described in detail in Irish Law texts of a 1000 years ago. Such mills were still in use up to the middle of this century.
Throughout 2008 there have been two new welcome additions to the folk park........
Another feature of the Folk Park is the formal Bunratty Walled Garden, modelled 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 gardens at Bunratty Folk Park have been restored with the assistance of an ERDF grant through the Great Gardens of Ireland Restoration programme. The project includes the environs of the Folk Park as well as the formal walled Regency Garden adjacent to Bunratty House. Each of the gardens plots of the vernacular dwellings in the Folk Park have also been restored, with special attention to the planting and land use of the period. The concept creates a product, which is unique in Ireland and the rest of Europe. Its uniqueness is in the fact that the gardens and environs form part of the history of the everyday lives of the inhabitants of the houses as well as depicting our horticultural heritage.
The house of small fisher –farming folk. The thatch is roped down to protect it against the Atlantic Gales. Bean a Ti (woman of the House) is baking bread, milk separating and butter making in high season. A traditional sweetbread known as ‘spotted dick’ is baked here and is very popular.
A simple two roomed home of a North Kerry Salmon Fisherman. Much of the timber used in this house would have been salvaged from the sea. The floor is of rammed clay.
A poor farmers house of a type found on the borders of Limerick and Kerry. It has a loft for extra sleeping space.
The first farmhouse to be reconstructed on the site and which marked the beginning of the development of Bunratty Folk Park. The house was removed from where it originally stood on the site of a runway at Shannon Airport.
One roomed dwelling of a poor landless labourer.
A prosperous farmers home, from the rich lands in the Golden Vale of counties Limerick and Tipperary. It has stables, byres and a corn barn. Here, Bean a Ti's bake brown bread, porter cake, apple tart, and griddle bread all year round. Slices of hot griddle bread with melting butter are a great favorite in this house.
Reflects the building style and materials of Moher area of North Clare. This house was from an area near the Cliffs of Moher in North Co. Clare. The local stone, a thick flagstone is used as a multi-purpose building material for houses, out buildings, various field walls gate piers etc. Flagstones were very often brought in a dowry gift by the bride to her new home.
An example from County Mayo of a dwelling occupied by both humans and their milking cows. There is a pigsty nearby.