Some twelve kilometres west of Limerick, bypassed by the main N18 Ennis road, lies the village of Bunratty whose castle and folk park form one of Ireland’s most popular attractions. A castle was first built here in 1277 during the Anglo-Normans’ brief occupation of southeast Clare, though the present version dates back to the mid-fifteenth century and was constructed for the MacNamaras, a branch of the O’Brien clan. Majestically restored in the 1950s, its keep contains an impressive array of artwork and furniture, mostly dating from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In the evenings “medieval” banquets are staged here, their entertainment consisting of a somewhat twee form of traditional dance, music and song. The expansive castle grounds host the folk park, a recreation of a nineteenth-century village, replete with post office, shops, a church and a pub, all populated by actors in contemporary dress.

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