Bunratty Folk Park
When you visit Bunratty Folk Park you experience a living reconstruction of the homes and environment of Ireland of over a century ago. Set on 26 acres, the impressive park features over 30 buildings in a ‘living’ village and rural setting.
Rural farmhouses, village shops and streets are recreated and furnished as they would have appeared at that time according to their social standing, 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
Prepare to experience village life in 19th century Ireland! The village houses and shops in the Folk Park have been chosen from many different areas, to form a collection of typical 19th century urban Irish buildings including the School, Doctor’s house, Pawnbrokers, Pub, Drapery, Printworks, Grocery, Hardware shop, Pottery and a Post Office.
In the early 19th century the country people provided for most of their own needs in food, clothing and supplies and bought only luxuries such as sugar, salt and tea. 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.
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. Among these well known and loved characters are the Bean a Ti (woman of the house), RIC (Royal Irish Constabulary) policeman, Schoolteacher.
Traditional jobs and crafts are also represented, milling, the forge, pottery, printing, baking, farming etc.
Bunratty Fairy Village
One of the most exciting finds in Bunratty Folk Park in recent years is that of a Fairy village located in a pretty woodland section of this historic landmark.
Ireland is famed for these magical creatures of myth and legend and they have a special significance in Irish culture and folklore and story.
Most of these stories were passed from generation to generation and are rooted in truth. Some less imaginative people however doubt the existence of fairies and elves. The fairies play hurling, they dance, they celebrate; they are seen as a community that coexists with our own, and occasionally interact with us. The mystical creatures inhabiting the little fairy house at Bunratty Folk park have been here for quite some time living quiet yet productive lives.
The fairy people welcome visitors into their village but are notoriously shy and may not always appear themselves! Explore the fantastic new willow tunnel and willow hut in the surroundings of the magical forest trail.
Bunratty Walled Garden
Don’t miss the beautiful walled garden at Bunratty House. It is a surviving part of the demesne which was originally formed around Bunratty Castle. The garden was built for the house c 1804. As walled gardens go it is small, just less than half an acre, this was due to the fact that a large garden would have existed within the demesne, located north of the castle. This large garden would have functioned as a kitchen garden for Bunratty House and therefore it was unnecessary to have another large production garden.
The garden was built on the east side of the house and beyond the stables protected from the prevailing westerly winds. It is enclosed by four original stone walls forming an irregular space. Apart from the walls, no original features remain except for a disused entrance to the south wall near the house, which would have been used by the family and a cart entrance near the south east corner, with original Iron Gates. Views from the garden to the east overlook the reclaimed salt marshes of the Owengarney River Valley and to the south toward the River Shannon Estuary.
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 garden 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.